Leeward Community College Counselor and Professor Ernie Libarios, Sr., center, honored by the Honolulu City Council surrounded by family and friends.

 

At a ceremony on April 20, the Honolulu City Council recognized Leeward Community College Counselor and Professor Ernie Libarios, Sr. for his strong commitment to nurturing and educating Hawaiʻi’s youth. Libarios has touched and shaped the lives of countless students and families of Leeward CC for 47 years and retired from Leeward CC on December 31, 2015.

Libarios embarked on his teaching career in 1967 in Central Oʻahu, where he was a counselor at Farrington High School. In 1969, he was hired by Leeward CC and became the first counselor of Filipino ancestry in the newly established community college educational system. He has nurtured the academic and personal growth of students and served as a role model for his peers.

Through commitment and hard work, Libarios has instilled sound values and principles in future leaders. He gained the respect and admiration of his colleagues as well as the love, honor and respect of his students and their parents. He helped students achieve their full potential and inspired those he worked with.

“Being born and raised in Waiʻanae, if it wasn’t for meeting Ernie as a student and he helping me navigate the registration process when I felt like giving up on college, I would not be the person I am today. Ernie was not only my counselor and teacher, he has been my mentor over the years,” said former Leeward CC student and now a Leeward CC Waiʻanae Counselor Leon Florendo.

His expertise in counseling and the development of a culturally-based self-development course have earned him local, state, national and international acclaim. He has received awards and commendations from numerous organizations including The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents, The United Filipino Council of Hawaiʻi and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.

Shares Ernie Libarios, Sr. “The years I’ve spent at Leeward CC has been an experience of educational privilege, honor and nourishment. Counseling students to find their inner voices, encouraging them to discover the lives they were meant to live and prompting their willingness to share their uniqueness with others was a constant stream of mutual growth for me!”

More on Ernie Libarios, Sr.

Libarios attended elementary and intermediate school in Kona, Hawaiʻi and is the proud graduate of Konawaena High School. He obtained his undergraduate degree in history from Chaminade University and later completed his master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education.

At Chaminade, Ernie met and married the late Shirley Libarios, a teacher at Aiea High School. He has two sons, Ernest “Niki” Libarios, Jr. and Jason Daniel Libarios and four granddaughters.

“My dad, as well as my mom, both have had a tremendous impact on my life and where I am presently in the field of higher education, especially since they were both pioneers in working with underrepresented and at-risk youth in Hawaiʻi education,” said Niki Libarios, director of the Office of Student Academic Services at the UH Mānoa College of Education. “Their imprint inspired in me a heart to help others in my own work.”

Libarios was also an ordained deacon for the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and shared his expertise and talents with community service organizations such as the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission and the United Visayan Club.

—By Tracy Matsushima