Group of people in Pacific Island cultural garb

The Pacific Islander Student Center at UH Hilo, celebrating its grand opening in 2010 in the photo above, presents a two-day conference focused on navigating the success of Pacific Island students in higher education. (Photo courtesy UH Hilo)

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosts the Pacific Islander Higher Education Conference, February 8–9.

With the theme Navigating Success, the conference will bring together education, community and government leaders along with high school students and their families to encourage students of Pacific Island heritage to seek a college education and develop strategies to ensure their success.

The event is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored jointly by UH Hilo and UH Mānoa. It is free and open to the public, and registration is required.

UH Hilo has become a popular destination for students throughout the Pacific region. Over the years, many Pacific Island families have also made Hawaiʻi their adopted home, and as with any new immigrant population comes the cultural, social, and educational challenges,” said Vidalino Raatior, director of the UH Hilo Pacific Islander Student Center. “The conference aims to bring together stakeholders to address the critical issues related to these student populations in the local high schools and develop strategies for supporting their needs.”

Leadership summit and “College Day” for high school students

The conference convenes at 9 a.m. on Friday, February 8, in Campus Center 301 with a leadership summit featuring high school and college educators. UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Luoluo Hong will give the keynote address focusing on institutional partnerships to ensure student success at all levels of service as a matter of social justice.

Government, church, Pacific Island and community leaders will join educators during the afternoon session at the Pacific Islander Student Center in Campus Center 307 where talks will focus on developing collaborative partnerships to support students’ needs.

Saturday, February 9, has been designated as “College Day” for high school students and parents of Pacific Island ethnicity to participate in workshops, forums and activities to inform, motivate and inspire them to seek higher educational opportunities and resources.

Sessions begin at 9 a.m. with the keynote address by Lorraine Sonoda-Fogel, a local doctor of Samoan descent who will talk about resilience amidst poverty and the value of hard work as exemplified by her own life story. Breakout sessions, workshops, a resource fair, panel discussions and information from various university officials will wrap-up the conference.

For more information or to register, call (808) 933-3857 or visit the conference website.

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