The Leeward Community College ʻohana has been winning big. Awards from the Hawaiʻi Association for Career and Technical Education (HIACTE) spotlight faculty members Tommylynn Benavente and Roy Kamida for their stellar contributions to the community and education, while culinary arts graduate Shaylyn Funasaki took top place in the much-sought-after Regional Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs Competition.

Tommylynn Benavente
Roy Kamida
Shaylyn Funasaki

Hawaiʻi Association for Career and Technical Education awards

Leeward CC faculty snagged two of the three HIACTE distinctions this year.

Tommylynn Benavente

Postsecondary Teacher of the Year award recipient Tommylynn Benavente is the chair of the professional arts and technology division and a culinary arts professor. She has dedicated 35 years to crafting a curriculum and education opportunities that will help her students succeed and prosper in the culinary industry.

Benavente’s creative thinking and community-building efforts have led to scholarships, community fundraising culinary events and student externships at top Honolulu restaurants.

Roy Kamida

Carl Perkins Community Service award winner Roy Kamida, a Leeward CC professor of accounting for more than 33 years, has proven himself time and again to be a dedicated, versatile and tireless teacher and community member. Former students are eager to credit their professional success to his exemplary guidance and student-centered style.

As Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program coordinator, he oversees the recruitment, training and certification of tax preparers who volunteer their services to low- to moderate-income taxpayers who need assistance preparing their federal and state returns. Last year, the volunteers and Kamida prepared a whopping 870 federal returns.

Regional Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs Competition

Leeward CC graduate Shaylyn Funasaki hasn’t yet hit 30, but she’s already got some serious culinary cred under her belt. As the winner at this year’s highly competitive Regional Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs Competition, Funasaki was pitted against five professional chefs in a challenge that tested their creativity and skill in the kitchen. Contestants were given a “mystery” basket stocked with local produce and meats that included Kona lobster and ʻulu—then tasked with whipping up a gourmet masterpiece.

She credits her Leeward CC chef instructors for preparing her with the knowledge and tools to cook up a first-place-caliber spread. Funasaki, who is also a pastry chef at fine dining “it”-spot, MW Restaurant, worked with special needs children before making a serious trajectory shift to follow her dream and enroll at Leeward CC’s culinary program. Next stop for her: South Carolina, for the National Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs competition in May.

—By Kathleen Cabral