UH Alumni Profiles
- Wahine basketball coach retires a winner
- Laskey brothers manage sister hotels
- Commercial diplomat directs overseas presence
- Attorney-oceanographer helps coastal nations communicate
- Restaurateur adds tastes to Honolulu
Wahine basketball coach retires a winner
Fifth-year certificate, education, ’69 Manoa
All-time record: 334-166
Family: Wife Gay; Children Cappy, Kippy, Casey and Kimi
Favorite golf course: Honolulu Country Club
Favorite hole: "None—they are all equally unkind to me"
On March 9, 2004, Vince Goo coached his 500th and final game for UH Manoa’s Rainbow Wahine basketball team, a 59-56 loss to Boise State in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. In 17 years as head coach Goo had turned a lackluster program into a consistent winner, taking teams to 10 post-season tournaments, winning three regular season conference titles and earning admiration for moxie that defines Goo’s squads even in loses that include near upsets of basketball powerhouses Connecticut and Louisiana Tech.
Off the court, Goo racked up a perfect record. All 41 of his players who completed their eligibility at UH earned their degrees, and four more are expected to follow.
Without game film to study, referees to berate and long road trips to endure, Goo will dedicate most of his energy to golf ("They say you can’t golf everyday, so I think that I’ll just play five times a week") while doing his best to avoid chores at home ("I’ll have a worse attitude than the worst attitude player I ever had").
Mostly, he looks forward to enjoying UH games from the stands rather than the agonizing view from the bench. He says he won’t be stopping by the concession stands, though. "You can’t yell at the refs with your mouth full."
Brothers manage sister hotels
BBA, travel industry management, ’95, Manoa
BA, communications, ’95, Manoa
Claims to fame: General managers, Ryan for Sheraton Waikiki, Jonathan for the W Honolulu
Family: Parents, brother Jason ("the younger and only smart one"), Brandi the dog
Favorite college hangout: Danny’s in Manoa
Except for going to the movies, Ryan and Jonathan Laskey steered clear of Waikiki as youths. They can’t seem to avoid each other, however. Ryan attended Colorado State University and Jonathan enrolled at neighboring University of Colorado, but both returned the UH Manoa to complete their degrees. Ryan majored in travel industry management while Jonathan chose communications, but many of their classes were in the same building.
While working as a banquet busboy at the Sheraton Waikiki, Ryan told Jonathan that the public relations director always had interns in tow. Jonathan completed an internship, was hired and worked his way up through a number of positions, winding up at the Sheraton’s sister property, the W. "I believe Ryan was also promoted. I think he is something like a waiter now," Jonathan teases. Actually, Ryan, the elder brother, made general manager first, and, he could add, at a larger hotel.
Both credit the opportunities provided by UH to gain practical experience and learn from established industry professionals with contributing to their success. "I used to run into other TIM grads, and we’d brag about who passed a capstone human resources class taught by one of the toughest instructors in the school," Ryan says. "It would really make him mad if he found out I was telling everyone I aced it on the first try."
Commercial diplomat directs U.S.’s most extensive overseas presence
BBA ’69 Manoa
Key to diplomacy: Paying attention, being responsive and providing good service to people from many cultures
Languages: Japanese, Korean, Russian
Quote: "India is as fascinating and as complex as has been described by the likes of Kipling, Twain and contemporary observers."
The challenge in promoting American exports isn’t barriers in foreign countries as much as making U.S. firms aware of extraordinary opportunities, according to John Peters. He should know; he has spent 30 years abroad, 18 of them with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Currently minister-counselor for commercial affairs in India, he has protected and advocated the interests of the U.S. in Seoul, Moscow and Japan and managed consulting firms serving government agencies, multinational firms and smaller businesses.
"Seventy percent of companies that export are small, fewer than 20 employees. Such firms need the access and know-how of our overseas experts, as well as the guidance of our domestic network of trade specialists in the U.S.," Peters says.
The Commercial Service helps firms develop successful selling strategies and comply with regulatory issues. "India is booming, and a U.S. firm that does its homework can reap huge rewards. The U.S. mission in India will go the extra mile to make this happen."
Cultural diversity, high standards and internship opportunities at UH fueled Peters’ interest in working overseas, a life he calls exhilarating. "I thrive on the constant stimulation and the fast-pace and enjoy learning new things and understanding diverse values. We’ve got so much we can learn from other cultures," he says.
Oceanographer-attorney helps coastal nations communicate
MS, oceanography, ’89 Manoa
Roots: The Netherlands
Resided in: U.S., Luxembourg, Kenya, Thailand and elsewhere
Quote: "As the quintessential ocean state, Hawai'i can offer a unique selling position for programs that meld marine environmental science and policy."
From an international law firm based in Brussels to a Pacific Ocean resource management project based in Samoa, Philomene Verlaan has collected the training and experience to provide direction where marine science intersects law and policy.
During summer 2004, she completes her latest assignment as regional coordinator for the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem program. She helped countries around the bay establish national task forces and regional collaborations to promote sustainable management of fisheries and other marine resources by addressing coral reefs and mangroves, land-based pollution sources, food security and alternative livelihoods for coastal communities.
Based in Chennai, the project office is hosted by the government of India and funded by the eight participating countries, intergovernmental Global Environmental Facility, the Swedish International Development Agency, Japan, NOAA and the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.
Once the Bengal program proceeds with implementation, Verlaan plans to pursue research questions generated by work for her 2003 doctorate in marine biogeochemistry from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London.
First, however, she plans a visit to Hawai'i, where she helped design the ocean policy certificate program and hopes to meet with new students interested in exploring the science/policy interface. "These skills are appropriate and useful everywhere decisions must be made on how to live well in our environment," she says.
Honolulu restaurateur adds tastes, fosters talent
BBA, travel industry management, ’’69 Manoa
Claim to fame: Owner of Auntie Pasto’s, Dixie Grill
Hometown: Pittsfield, Mass.
Favorite childhood foods: Mom’s Polish pierogies made with sauerkraut, fried clams shared with Dad on Friday nights
Pastimes: Golf, racquetball
On tipping: It’s optional, not an obligation. Servers are only entitled to a gratuity if they earn it.
Like a lot of freshmen, Ed Wary tried on different majors at Gannon College in Erie, Penn. Realized how much he enjoyed his high school and college restaurant jobs, he found his field, shopped around for a appropriate college and transferred to UH Manoa.
With a degree and 13 years of restaurant experience under his belt, he opened Auntie Pasto’s in 1983 as "a real Italian restaurant." Dixie Grill followed in 1997, Wary’s attempt to bring barbecue from around the country together in one restaurant. He developed all the new menu items for both restaurants, including the Grill’s ribs and the popular eggplant Parmesan and pasta seafood at Auntie’s.
Wary represents Hawai'i on the board of the National Restaurant Association and teaches an annual class in restaurant management for Manoa’s School of Travel Industry Management. "Do not confuse efforts with results," he tells students. "Raise the standard of expectation for service." He enjoys their enthusiasm in class and running into them after graduation, when he can see how he helped shape their lives.