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January, 2006 Vol. 31 No. 1
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Published January 2006

UH Alumni Profiles

Educator is first woman to head Hawai’i guard

Kathleen F. Berg

Kathleen F. Berg
BEd in mathematics education ’73, MEd in secondary education ’80, PhD in educational psychology ’92

Career:Associate specialist/associate director, UH Mānoa Curriculum Research and Development Group; brigadier general, Hawai’i Air National Guard

Hobbies: Running, science and mathematics

Roots: Bushnell, Ill.

Family: Husband Steve

Kathleen F. Berg’s promotion to brigadier general in August 2005 wasn’t the first time she was the first woman in her military post. Hawai’i Air National Guard’s first female one-star general became the first female HIANG colonel in 2002.

Recruited into the guard by her husband in 1977, she commanded the 293rd Combat Communications Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base for seven years. "It was a wonderful way to learn about Hawai⇻i and the larger community. It kept me from being isolated to just the ivory towers," she says. "It allows me to serve my nation and my community in times of need. I feel like the work is important."

Not that she disdains the full-time university work she’s done since 1973. "I am continually learning," she says.""I work with interesting, interested people who challenge me to think and keep current in education and research."

Outside her jobs, Berg works with Great Danes. "They are very loving, people dogs and aren’t easily roused," she says. "They don’t bark a lot; they are actually great house dogs and are very beautiful, majestic animals."

by Karla Brown


Mystery writer sets series in Hawaiʻi

Victoria Heckman

Victoria Heckman
BA in drama and theatre ’86

Advice:"Don’t write it right; just write it down."

Mānoa memory:Hanging out on the benches under the stairs of Kennedy Theatre and Roger Long’s inspirational Asian theatre course

Renaissance fair character: An Irish mercenary

Hālau:Nā Mele O Ke Kai with Kumu Hula Sandy Rodriguez

Home:San Luis Obispo, Calif., with husband and two boys

Red-haired police officer Katrina Ogden, the K.O. of the K.O.’d in Hawaiʻi Mystery Series bears some resemblance to both author Victoria Heckman and a Hawai’i Police Department friend and consultant. "Most of the truly stupid things K.O. does, I’ve done," Heckman confesses.

Her smart move was starting to write about eight years ago. Inspired by people and places she has known, Heckman has her lead character encounter fictional situations based on real events in Hawai’i. Her third book, K.O.’d in the Rift, released Sept. 1, 2005, touches on the politics of Hawaiian sovereignty. A previous volume is set against a Big Island volcanic eruption and a book in progress visits Kauaʻi koi ponds.

A professional actor/dancer and one-time police reservist, Heckman uses her UH training in children’s theatre to teach drama, mostrecently directing San Luis Obispo High School’s production of Dracula and a wild west melodrama at Cayucof Middle School.

by Melissa Chua


One-time mop top is a municipal maestro

Michael Nakasone

Michael Nakasone
BEd ’67, MEd ’68 in music education

From mop top to maestro: it’s a fitting way to describe Michael Nakasone’s musical journey. The one-time keyboard player for a local rock band during the ’60s (the original Mop Tops) in Feb. 2006 completes his first year as bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band, the only full-time municipal band in America.

In between, Nakasone mastered piano and saxophone and spent 37 years as a music educator, 28 of them at Pearl City High, where he lead an award-winning band.

"The first time I touched a piano, I realized that music touches the soul in a positive way and provides a sense of solace and fulfillment," he says. "I wanted to share that feeling with students so I decided to become a teacher."

The career choice involved unexpected sacrifice. Cleaning school restrooms during a 1979 UPW strike, Nakasone acquired a staph infection that invaded his brain, rendering him visually impaired and near death. He underwent brain surgery and made a successful recovery.

Nakasone’s vision for the Royal Hawaiian Band includes a cultural advisory board to recommend hula ha=lau, dancers and singers to perform with the band; expanded outreach with more performances in schools and an international campaign to raise funds.

by Neal Iwamoto


Journal describes life in psychological ops

Mervyn E. Eddie Roberts

Mervyn E. "Eddie" Roberts
BA in history ’84

In the decade following his 1987 enlistment in the Army, Eddie Roberts served in Germany, Operation Desert Storm, Korea and Somalia. After settling into a job as a purchasing manager in Ft. Worth, Texas, he joined the Army Reserves in 2000 and deployed to Afghanistan as part of a Psychological Operations Team after the collapse of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

PSYOP Teams worked with Special Forces, traveling the back roads and trails of the Afghan countryside to assess people’s needs, encourage local leaders and inform people of the impending changes in their country. The journal Roberts kept became the basis for his book Villages of the Moon: Psychological Operations in Southern Afghanistan, published under the name M. E. Roberts.

"I kept the book in journal format in hopes that a person would come away feeling what a deployment is like&8212;lthe slow times, constantly changing mission orders, high stress times when hundreds of actions are compressed into a few minutes," Roberts says. "I also hope people will understand the harsh conditions under which we are operating. This is crucial to understanding why it is not just a simple act to go up and arrest Osama Bin Laden."

by John Burnett


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