A former University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo women’s soccer defender has gone from defending the Vulcans to defending her community from COVID-19. Hilo native Chloe Nishioka currently serves as a registered nurse, working three different jobs on the coronavirus frontlines.
A 2014 graduate of UH Hilo in biology and a 2020 graduate of the UH Hilo School of Nursing, Nishioka juggles working at the Hilo Medical Center, the Keaʻau and Hilo Urgent Care facilities and for Premier Medical Group Hawaiʻi. Her work with Premier Medical Group Hawaiʻi brings her back on the UH Hilo campus to help test Vulcan athletes for COVID-19. Nishioka is still defending Vulcans—in a different way.
Nishioka played four seasons (2011–14) for the Vulcans, including the 2013 campaign when UH Hilo had one of the best seasons in school history. In each of her four years at UH Hilo, Nishioka was awarded the Sakai and Harue Wakakuwa Female Student-Athlete of the Year award, given to the top Vulcan among all seven female teams, based on academic and athletic accomplishments. She was later honored for her accomplishments during her time at the School of Nursing, winning the Hawaii Nurses Association Award.
Busy from the beginning, Nishioka said her time at UH Hilo as a student-athlete helped prepare her for what seems like an impossible schedule now.
“There are so many skills that you develop in order to be a successful student-athlete,” she said. “Flexibility, the ability to adapt in situations and critical thinking are crucial to being a student-athlete as well as in the field of nursing. A lot of the time things do not go the way you planned or anticipated, but you cannot simply give up. People are depending on you, whether it’s your teammates or coaches, or your patient and other healthcare team members.”
Chloe is following a family line of Nishiokas that have deep ties to Hilo and the campus. Her father Curtis was the UH Hilo Director of Admissions for many years before retiring in 2013. Her mother Dee has helped organize twice-yearly Vulcan physical exams with athletic trainer Kensei Gibbs since 2012. Her brother Keenan graduated from UH Hilo and played baseball for the Vulcans 2012–16.