Frap with Faculty Fall 2018

Now that we’ve heard from some of UH Manoa’s students, we have prepared a panelists of faculty to share their insights on a successful experience as a student here at UHM.



Dr. Siobhán Ní Dhonacha

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and the first in her family to earn a degree, Dr. Siobhán Ní Dhonacha has enjoyed working with and teaching diverse students in institutions such as Western Washington University, New York University, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

A screenwriter, playwright, and fiction writer, Dr. Ní Dhonacha was awarded the Diamond Head Theatre’s Burnett/Selleck Scholarship, and was the 2010 UHM Page to Stage Essayist.

Committed to lifelong learning and continuing education, Dr. Ní Dhonacha completed a COLT Graduate Certificate in online learning and teaching from the UHM College of Education, has earned a PhD from the UHM College of Education entitled, “The Ethics of Care as a Framework for Higher Education Philosophy and Implemented Policy: Can Mentoring Microconnections Produce Powerful Macro Effects?”, and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing and Theatre from the UHM Department of Theatre and Dance. Dr. Ní Dhonacha was honored and privileged to be invited to serve as a Student Marshall for both graduation ceremonies.

Dr. Ní Dhonacha currently serves as a UHM Honors Program Faculty Specialist/Advisor, and developed and teaches the innovative Honors 333 Experiential Learning and Scholarly Engagement Writing Intensive online course, advises the Regents and Presidential Scholars (RAPS), the Doctor of Medicine Early Acceptance Scholars for Honors, and has served as the Honors Faculty Advisor to the Honors Program Student Organization and RAPS Student Organization.


Dr. Kelly Aune

Kelly Aune has been a faculty member at UHM in the Department of Communicology for 30 years. About half of that time I have spent in administrative positions. Now, at the back end of my career, I get to be a plain vanilla professor. The classes I teach and the research I do focus on how the process of communication works and why doesn’t it work with Siri and Alexa.


Dr. Julie Walsh

Dr. Julie Walsh is an associate faculty specialist at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. She advises undergraduates, teaches courses, and oversees the development and assessment of the BA curriculum in Pacific Islands Studies, including service learning. Her research and expertise involve American adoptions of Marshallese children, Compact of Free Association migration, and Marshallese understandings of the US-RMI relationship. Her current interests include impactful pedagogies, including service learning, civic engagement, and internships; and advancing multimedia and interdisciplinary teaching resources for Pacific Islands studies at all levels . Walsh is the founding editor of the Teaching Oceania digital textbook series. She is also an author of the Marshall Islands’ first high school history textbook, Etto nan Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History (2012). She recently worked with Hawaii State DOE to revise 7th grade curriculum standards for Pacific Islands Studies, which will be implemented in Fall 2019.

Dr. Denise Nelson-Hurwitz

Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz’s journey to Manoa began about a half mile from campus. She was born in Honolulu and raised in a house just a few blocks away from campus. A graduate of Maryknoll School, she walked on to the UH Mānoa campus as the first member of her immediate family to attend college. School took priority as Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz worked multiple jobs to support herself as a economics major and pre-med student. During her junior year, she was introduced to public health in an Honors seminar focused on medical history. Following graduation with a BA in economics, minor in biology, Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz applied for both medical school and an MPH (Masters in Public Health) program in epidemiology. After an initial rejection from JABSOM, she pursed her masters degree in epidemiology at UHM and later decided on a route to a PhD in Microbiology, rather than re-applying to medical school.
For the past five years, Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz has been a faculty member at the UHM Office of Public Health Studies, and has served as chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Public Health degree program for the past four years. She currently teaches PH 201 (Introduction to Public Health), PH 480 (Application of Public Health Principles in Research & Practice), and PH 485 (Applied Learning Experience). Her past research has focused on molecular epidemiology of influenza virus and Native Hawaiian cancer disparities, but her current research projects primarily involve public health educational pedagogy, student services, and improving food access among low-income populations in Hawaii.

Fraps with Faculty Spring 2018 Recap

Thank you everyone who attended and to our panelists for their amazing insights!

First, we heard from Lisa Kehl, serving UHM as the alcohol and drug educator with Health Services. Lisa shared her journey academic and career journey that has allowed her to adventure from New York to settling in Hawaii. During undergrad she changed majors a lot, initially wanting to major in dance, then interior design, and eventually finding psychology. In order to graduate relatively soon, summer school was a great resource for her to catch up. Following graduation there were a couple more moves along the west coast before Lisa arrived in Hawaii in 2001. At UHM she pursued her Master’s degree, beginning her career in social work thanks to the help of her mentors pointing out her natural desire to work in the field. Towards to end of the Master’s program, Lisa found that working in public health would be a great way to take part in larger change. She believes that being an active member of the community is so important, allowing her to find passion in her work every day.


Our second speaker was Penny-Bee. As a Hawaii Native and former UH athlete, Penny-Bee has roots here at UHM. During her time at UHM, she received her Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with focus in gender laws and society. With a genuine passion for women’s studies and activism, Penny-Bee worked for Planned Parenthood while she lived in California, post-graduation. Though she spent 20 years on the west coast, Penny-Bee ultimately decided that Hawaii was home and came back to reunite with her family. After returning, she decided to go back to school to earn her Master’s degree in sociology. Penny-Bee highlights that it was her passions that drove her career and life path and by utilizing her intellect and intuition, she created opportunities for herself.


Up next Anna shared her story of taking on academic setbacks in stride. Growing up in Michigan, Anna was very invested in writing and wanted to pursue becoming an author, journalist, or teacher. Anna made the move to Seattle to enroll in the Art Institute of Seattle, where she spent some time and ultimately dropped out because she was not as interested as she initially thought. When she decided to re-enter school, Anna worked hard in community college and was set on transferring to University of Washington, however, she was rejected for missing her foreign language. Though this was a major set back Anna found French and ended up studying abroad in Paris because of this opportunity to diversify herself. An important tool in Anna’s academic and career journey was the time she spent putting thought into what she wanted to achieve. By consulting mentors and advisors she found herself on the right track to pursue her Doctorate in English. A misstep in academic can ultimately be a time to reevaluate the opportunities that lie ahead.


Lastly, Justin took us through his growth as a curious individual. As far back as he could remember, Justin wanted to be a Biologist and was fascinated with the nature around him in his hometown in Florida. During his years in high school, Justin dealt with social anxiety that he believes allowed him extreme mental focus and a lot of time to think by himself. Justin became a National Merit Scholar and received offers from many universities, but ultimately chose to stay close to home at the University of North Florida. Though Justin was able to break through his social anxiety during the early years of college, he fell behind as a student while balancing his social and academic life. Justin had to refocus himself in order to pass the Biology GRE and attend the University of Tennessee. A new campus presented new challenges that motivated Justin to attempt areas of academics he was not “excellent” in. His journey of becoming an open individual and pursuing academics taught him that having time to focus on your passion or current endeavors is of utmost importance. His advice to students at UHM, is to set goals even if they are imagined because a “dream job” may not exist yet; the pursuit to make a difference can create a new space for expertise.

Fraps with Faculty – Spring 2018 Panelists Announced!

March is officially here! This means our 2nd event of the semester is coming up.

Here are the panelists you can look forward to hearing speak:

Lisa Kehl

Lisa Kehl is the Alcohol & Drug Education Coordinator and Health Educator at University Health Services, Health Promotion. She is a licensed social worker, with master’s degrees in both Social Work and Public Health. She is currently a doctoral student in Public Health and teaches Public Health Issues in Hawaii, an undergraduate class at the Office of Public Health Studies. She does community work on tobacco policy & advocacy, and provides certification trainings on tobacco cessation for students and health professionals in Hawaii.

Anna Feuerstein

Anna Feuerstein is an assistant professor at UH-Manoa in the English department, where she teaches courses on 18th and 19th century British literature, Victorian empire, and animals in literature and culture.

Penny-Bee K. Bovard

Penny-Bee Kapilialoha Bovard earned her B.A., M.A., and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a specialization in Women’s Studies, Sociology, and Indigenous Research and Teaching Models. Additionally, she serves as the Undergraduate Advisor for the Department of Women’s Studies. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. Her dissertation research is concerned with developing and implementing sexual assault prevention and intervention programming, grounded in Native Hawaiian values, at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Justin Walguarnery

Justin Walguarnery studies how humans and other animals acquire, process, and respond to information in a rapidly changing world. He has a BS in Biology from the University of North Florida and simultaneously completed an MS in Statistics and PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. At the University of Hawaii he has taught fifteen courses on subjects ranging from advanced statistical analysis, animal behavior, ecology, conservation, origin of species, and the origin and future of life. He has authored and edited online content for five textbooks on biology, and digital educational tools that he’s developed are currently used at over 500 colleges and universities.

FWF Recap Fall 2017

Thank you to our panelists!

Faculty at Fall 2017 Fraps with Faculty

Faculty at Fall 2017 Fraps with Faculty

Jason Kenji Higa

On his quest to obtain a degree in Biology, here at UH Mānoa, Jason learned that college is not meant to be a “cookie cutter experience.” He learned that being a full-time student for four years straight was not he approach that best fit him. Jason took a gap year. He encourages students to be productive through internships and jobs, while they take a break from school. Jason says that time management is the key to being a successful student and the reality of adulthood. Remember, no single path is right for every student.


Karyl Garland

As an English professor, Karyl strives to teach the importance of skillful writing. In every job writing is involved and what sets a job candidate apart from the rest continues to be writing. “If you can care about writing well, with precision, you’re beyond everyone else who cannot in your field.” Writing can certainly be a powerful tool when done well.


Pia Arboleda

Born and raised in the Philippines, Pia has learned a great deal about the importance of education. Pia learned, through the heartbreak and misdirection in the young adult years of her life, “education is the only thing people cannot take from you.” Substance will set you apart from those focused on their charm, Pia says. Though you have every right to celebrate the smallest accomplishments, be mindful of the areas in which you can grow.

Fraps With Faculty Fall 2017

Featured Panelists

Karyl Garland

Lecturer Department of English Shidler College of Business

“Being able to work with an amazing number of students through both our University of Hawai‘i English Department and the Shidler College of Business is an honor for me,” states Karyl Garland. She has been teaching for over 26 years, the most recent 7 of which have been at UH. Her commitment is to helping others learn to write with power and precision. The courses Garland consistently teaches are English 100/100A: Composition 1, English 408: Professional Editing, and Business 209: Written Communication in Business. Essentially, she understands how writing well is essential for success regardless of one’s major or chosen profession. In addition to her status as a UH lecturer, Garland is a freelance writer and editor with dozens of stories and articles in local publications including two cover stories for HILuxury magazine.

Pia Arboleda

Associate Professor and Coordinator Filipino and Philippine Literature Program

Recipient of the 2015 Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching, Pia Arboleda is Associate Professor and coordinator of the Filipino and Philippine Literature Program. She holds a Doctor of Arts degree in Language and Literature (major in Literature), a master’s degree in Language in Literature (major in Filipino) and a Bachelor of Science in Commerce (major in Marketing) from De La Salle University.

Prior to joining UH, she served as Visiting Professor at Osaka University where she taught Southeast Asian Culture, Philippine Literature, Language and History for almost five years. At UH, she teaches Filipino Translation Theory and Practice, Philippine Folklore, Philippine Travelogue: People, Places and Practices, Rizal’s Life and Writing, Philippine Food, Music and Rituals, among others. In Spring 2018, she will also be joining the UHM Honors faculty.

Her research interests include sexism in Philippine language, gender and literature, Philippine folklore and traditional cultures. She produces multi-media instructional materials. Her latest project, Ub-Ufok Ad Fiallig: Tales of Enchantment from Barlig, is an online resource that includes digital comic books narrated in Filipino with English subtitles, teaching modules and library resources. This is hosted by the UH Manoa Center for Southeast Asian Studies with additional support from the UH Open Educational Resources Office.

Jason Kenji P. Higa

Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anatomy, Biochemistry, & Physiology

Born in Hawai’i and raised on the west side of Oahu in Ewa Beach and Makakilo, Dr. Jason Kenji Higa is a UH alumnus, former Regents Scholar, scientist, and “local boy” who is now an Assistant Professor of Physiology at the John A Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). He first earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at UHM, earned his Master of Science degree in Biology (with diversification in artificial intelligence) at the University of San Francisco, and then returned to Hawai’i to earn his doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology from JABSOM.

During his graduate and postdoctoral studies, Jason published in several scientific journals and received awards such as the ARCS Scholar of the Year award. After obtaining his doctorate, Jason started lecturing at the medical school, which further stoked his interest and passion in teaching future health professionals. Last year, he joined the faculty at the main UH Mānoa campus, and now enjoys teaching physiology to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students.

Recap: Fraps With Faculty Spring 2017

On Wednesday April 5th, 2017 we heard very insightful advice from some of UH Mānoa’s faculty! Dr. Brent Sipes and Dr. Jenee Odani shared about their college experiences, gave perspective on college as a member of the faculty and shared advice about how to gain the most from higher education.

Dr. Brent Sipes a professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences earned his Bachelor’s at Purdue University and his Master’s and Doctorate at North Carolina State University. From early on Dr. Sipes knew he wanted to be a professor or scientist and through his extensive education, is now a professor who conducts research at UH Mānoa. As a first-generation college student, Dr. Sipes felt as though it was hard to explain what he had learned to his parents because college was a “different” concept. His major had no application outside of academics, further encouraging him to become a professor and conduct research in his field. Dr. Sipes encourages us to “be a real participant in life” and that starts with joining clubs and exploring your academic environment. He emphasized that success in college is engaging with your professors because they are just as willing to learn from you as you are from them. Dr. Sipes wants students to be proactive in their endeavors whether that be academic or extracurricular.


Dr. Jenee Odani is an Associate Specialist for the Veterinary Extension and a Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program Advisor working in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Sciences. For some time during her college education she wanted to be an engineer and after doing poorly in her calculus course Dr. Odani rethought her academic path. She thought back to what she wanted to be when she was a child, a veterinarian. On her path to obtaining her degree in Zoology at the University of Washington Dr. Odani felt overwhelmed and was not sure if she had chosen the right path, however, by reaching out to the Dean of her department she felt more at ease with her decision. She encourages students to talk to their professors and ask questions when you are feeling concerned about your path. Dr. Odani encourages students to prioritize their education like you would a job because there is so much to learn in the four short years you spend at the university. Joining clubs and expanding your social circle within education is important too because being involved can help shape your career path. Like Dr. Sipes, Dr. Odani wants students interact with heir professors because that is where outstanding letters of recommendation can come from. Dr. Odani wants students to think about the future because if you have a plan for where you want to be in life then you can act now to achieve what you want.

Fraps with Faculty Fall 2016


Anastasia Kostetskaya, PhD
Assistant Professor of Russian, Chair, Undergraduate Adviser
Born in Volgograd, Russia, Anastasia Kostetskaya obtained her undergraduate degree from Volgograd State Pedagogical University where she was trained to become a teacher of English and German as a foreign language. She got her PhD in Russian Literature and Culture from the Ohio State University in 2013. She is now working as an Assistant Professor of Russian at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Her research in metaphor studies looks at how we think of our emotions in terms of water. She also works on memory of civilian Stalingrad in WWII at the intersection of Russian and German cultures: Russian and German cinema, oral and written narratives of child-survivors, preservation of memory and post-memory of Stalingrad.
Karen Jolly, PhD
Professor of History
Dr. Jolly received her B.A. in English (1978), M.A. in Anglo-Saxon England combining English, History, and Religious Studies (1981), and Ph.D. in medieval History (1987), all from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research interests began with popular religion in medical remedies and extended into interdisciplinary approaches to magic, science, and religion. More recently, she has focused on liturgical rituals, bilinguality, and manuscript studies. Her most recent book publication is The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 (The Ohio State University Press, 2012), a cultural study of a viking-era religious community and their bilingual service book. She is now working on a historical fiction project exploring the life of Aldred and the other scribes at Chester-le-Street, which you can follow on her blog.
Todd Sammons, Phd
Professor of History


Fraps with Faculty Spring 2016

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Eric B. Szarmes, PhD.

Originally from British Columbia, Canada, Eric Szarmes received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Engi- neering Physics from the University of British Columbia in 1985, and his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1992, where he did his doctoral research in high resolution free-electron laser spec- troscopy under Professor John Madey. He was a postdoctoral research scientist at the Duke Free-Electron Laser Laboratory from 1992 to 1998, where he made pioneering contributions to the development of the phase-locked and chirped-pulse free-electron laser. In 1998 he joined the faculty of the University of Hawaii where he is currently an associate professor of physics. His current research interests include the theory and design of novel optical resonators for high-resolution free-electron laser spectroscopy, x-ray generation and high-field physics. His greatest passion is for teaching.

– Pursue what you love! If you do what you and pursue what you love, every opportunity that presents itself to you will be to your benefit.
– Don’t get discouraged by what is the most popular or trendy career choice at the moment, be true to yourself.

Julie Walsh, PhD.

Dr. Julie Walsh is an assistant faculty specialist at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at UH Manoa. Although hired as faculty in 2008 to develop curriculum and a proposal for a BA degree in Pacific Islands Studies, Julie has been at Manoa since 1995 when she began her PhD (2003) in the Anthropology Department. She now serves the Center in many capacities: as academic advisor to the undergraduate students, as committee member to MA students, as professor of the core Public Policy and Community Development course (PACS 301 WI, E), as student engagement coordinator, and curriculum and assessment coordinator. Julie’s research interests and publications are focused on the Marshall Islands, US-RMI relations, and issues faced by Micronesian people in Hawaii. She serves on the board of directors for a number of local non-profits.  She is committed to supplementing classroom learning with community engagements and meaningful application of students skills and knowledge in the ‘real’ world before students graduate (!). She welcomes students, their questions, frustrations, and hopes with open arms.

– Be open-minded and get engaged!
– Follow in “small baby steps”, listen to your inner voice of what you like and don’t like.
– Trust the people who you care about, ask them for their opinion for their perspective on your decisions.


Amy Hubbard, PhD.

Amy Hubbard is a Professor in the Department of Communicology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  She currently serves as the Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies of her department.  Born and raised on Oʻahu, Dr. Hubbard attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and her Master’s degree in Speech.  Her doctorate degree in Communication is from the University of Arizona.  While there, everyone would ask her why she left paradise for the desert heat!  Dr. Hubbard has been with the University for over 20 years, teaching both undergraduate and graduate students.  Her main areas of study focus on conflict management, nonverbal communication, interpersonal relationships, and deceptive communication.  She has received recognition for her teaching and research, including the Board of Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching and Top Paper awards at conferences around the U.S.  She is also the current past Chair of the Nonverbal Communication Division for the National Communication Association.

– Take all the classes you can! You never know how useful it might be. Be open and humble to new experiences!
– Avoid the “should’ve; could’ve; would’ve”!
– Be involved and be on campus! This will enrich your college experience!
– Be a planner! “Prior Propper Planning Promotes Pro-Performance”

Past Panelist

Fraps with Faculty Spring 2015

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The Spring 2015 Fraps with Faculty event was well-attended with over 70 students, advisors and faculty in attendance. Attendees checked in, helped themselves to MSE logo items, and then visited the buffet of sweet treats. Frappuccinos were available in four flavors, along with shamrock-shaped sugar, M&M, and red velvet cookies.

Each faculty panelist spoke for 15 minutes about their personal experiences, highlights of their time as undergraduates, and life post-graduation. A few highlights are below each speaker’s bio.


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Gerald Lau

Gerald Lau is an Assistant Faculty Specialist at the Department of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1976 and a Master of Science degree in Information and Computer Sciences in 1978 from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. After graduation he worked 13 years in industry before making a career change to education. He has been with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for the past 23 years.

Words of Advice:

– Be challenged to see what you really like to do.

– Keep moving forward even if there are setbacks and try new things that might interest you.

– Don’t make money your priority when it comes to what you want to pursue.

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Kathryn Hoffman

Kathryn Hoffmann (PhD Johns Hopkins U.) is Professor of French and creator of the Freaks and Monsters courses at UHM. She does interdisciplinary work in literature, history, and the history of medicine. She has a Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, and involves undergraduates in teaching and research through internships. Her book Society of Pleasures won the Modern Language Association’s Scaglione Prize and she has held fellowships from the Camargo Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and others. Research and lectures have taken her to over a dozen countries. She particularly enjoys taking students to Europe to experience museums, art, and life abroad.

Words of Advice:

– “Life becomes a tissue of relationships.” Find professors that share the same interests as you and let them guide you towards the route you’d like to pursue. Take the initiative to get to know your professors.

– College is the only time in your life to allow you to decide and explore what you would like to do. After college, you won’t have that same flexibility in your life.

– In order to succeed, you must fail at times. Don’t give up and keep trying towards your goals.

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Mandy Westfall-Senda

Mandy Westfall-Senda currently serves as the Coordinator for New Student Orientation and Leadership Development Services, a faculty specialist position, in the Office of Student Life and Development (SLD).  Prior to joining SLD in 2011, she spent 4 years at Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, a UH System initiative that seeks to strengthen the education pipeline from birth to college.  Serving as the Operations Manager for the P-3 Initiative, a $10 million grant that focused on literacy by grade three, Mandy learned much about educational policy and institutions of learning at different levels in Hawaii and on the Continent.  In addition to her years with University of Hawaii, Mandy was an adjunct faculty member at Hawaii Tokai International College where she taught American Studies courses, the Programs Director at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and the Exhibitor Coordinator and Comptroller for the annual Made in Hawaii Festival.  Mandy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and Asian American Studies from Scripps College in Claremont, California, a Master of Arts degree in American Studies from UHM, and has completed all the required coursework for her PhD in American Studies, also from UHM.

Words of Advice:

– Get involved–find similarities/connections between your academics and co-curriculars that you could get involved in. Be able to balance between academics and co-curriculars.

– Be willing to put yourself out there. Take risks to be more involved.

– When you have the opportunity to talk to your professors, take it and get to know them.

Thank you to the faculty panelists, MSE committee volunteers and everyone who attended this event. Thank you to the Student Activity and Program Fee Board (SAPFB) for funding the Spring 2015 Panel Series!


Fraps with Faculty Fall 2015


Event Summary: The Fall 2015 Fraps with Faculty event was a success! Attendees enjoyed drinking their tasty Frappuccinos while listening to advice from UHM faculty, as well as their college experiences.

Each panelist shared stories from their lives as undergraduates and shared helpful tips for success (which have been added to this post below each panelist’s bio).


lori miyo ideta

Lori Miyo Ideta

Dr. Lori Miyo Ideta currently serves as the Interim Vice Chancellor for Students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. Ideta is also a tenured, Full Faculty Specialist, and an adjunct professor of the University of Hawaiʻi College of Education, where she teaches graduate courses and serves on guiding master’s and doctoral students through their graduate programs. Dr. Ideta received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Higher Education Administration, with a focus on student affairs administration, from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. Ideta holds regional, national, and international positions with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and the Golden Key International Honour Society. As an internationally trained facilitator, Dr. Ideta has conducted diversity, social justice, conflict resolution, and leadership development workshops in Hawaiʻi, on the continental United States, and in Europe. As a qualitative researcher, Dr. Ideta’s interests center on leadership development, higher education, Asian culture, women’s issues, and the larger juxtaposition of all of these elements. Dr. Ideta is a proud product of Hawaiʻi’s public school system and is a first-generation college attendee.

– It’s important to have a community
– Make lots of friends
– Explore your options
– The experience outside academia is absolutely essential
– “You are good enough to do this, you can do this.”


Kristin Pauker

Kristin Pauker is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii and director of the ISP lab. She received her A.B. from Dartmouth College (2002), Ph.D. from Tufts University (2009), and completed postdoctoral study at Stanford University. Originally born and raised in Hawaii—a drastically different environment than either Hanover, NH (Dartmouth) or Medford, MA (Tufts)—she became fascinated with exploring how a person’s immediate environment and culturally-shaped theories about race impact basic social perception, social interactions, and stereotyping in childhood and throughout development. Dr. Pauker enjoys hiking, surfing, and yoga (when she has time). A fun fact: Dr. Pauker has had three serious head injuries, one of which, occurred her freshman year in college, and spurred her interest in Psychology.  

– Get involved in experience with faculty, as well as off term internships
– Be willing to follow your passions and take risks!
– Form relationships with faculty members
– Learn how you study best!
– “School contacts are just as important as your school contacts!”


Mike Nassir

Mike Nassir has been an Instructor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa since 2001, where he teaches undergraduate lecture and laboratory courses in both physics and astronomy.  He also performs academic advising for Physics & Astro majors, serves on UH General Education committees, and engages in numerous secondary-school and public outreach programs.  Since 2009, Mr. Nassir has also been a Science Communication instructor for the Akamai Internship program, coaching undergraduate summer interns in writing and speaking skills for a future in engineering or science.  Mr. Nassir grew up in Southern California, where he received his B.S. in Physics from Caltech.  He moved to Hawaii to earn an M.S. in Astronomy at UH Manoa, where his research focused on infrared and microwave observations of protostars in nearby star-forming regions.  He enjoys classical piano, pet chameleons, and trivia games, and he was once a contestant on Jeopardy!

– Get involved in an internship
– Get exposed early to out of class experiences

Past Panelists