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Two people holding award plaques
Raymart Billote and Rebecca Carino-Agustin

University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu faculty specialist Rebecca Carino-Agustin and student Raymart Billote recently received awards recognizing their significant contributions to the success of Filipinas and Filipinos in education.

Carino-Agustin, a college success advisor and first-year experience coordinator, is the recipient of the Dr. Ernest “Niki” Libarios Outstanding Filipina/o Faculty & Staff Award. Billote, who is majoring in secondary education with a concentration in social studies, is the recipient of the Dr. Julius Bajet Soria Outstanding Filipina/o Student Award.

The special awards are part of the Pamantasan UnConference, an annual UH Systemwide event that celebrates and aims to elevate the Filipinx community. This year’s conference was presented by host campus UH West Oʻahu and held on October 21, both online and in person.

In 2018, the Pamantasan host committee from UH Mānoa established the awards honoring two beloved members of the UH community. The awards recognize the significant contributions to the success of Filipina/os in education through mentoring, leadership and support.

Dr. Julius Bajet Soria Outstanding Filipina/o Student Award

“I am incredibly honored and elated to be awarded the Dr. Julius Bajet Soria Outstanding Filipina/o Student Award,” Billote said. “It meant a lot to me as a first-generation Filipino immigrant and the first person in my family to attend college here in Hawaiʻi. I have never imagined getting recognized for anything.”

A nominator commented on how Billote has made progressive strides for his community even before joining UH West Oʻahu as part of the Filipino Curriculum Project.

“Through his effort, he has helped to advocate and lead the effort to integrate Filipino history courses throughout the Department of Education system,” the nominator wrote. “They have been successful with legislation passed to make that vision a reality.”

Dr. Ernest “Niki” Libarios Outstanding Filipina/o Faculty & Staff Award

Carino-Agustin said to be honored as part of Libarios’ legacy reminds her of much of the work that has been done to get her to where she is in higher education as a faculty specialist.

“As a first-generation student, I have used my experiences within college to enact meaningful change in reducing barriers to and within college for the students,” she said. “It also reminds me that there is much more work to do to make higher education more accessible and more responsive to the needs of all students, especially those who have been historically excluded and marginalized.”

One nominator commented on how Carino-Agustin’s bright and positive spirit shines through at every campus event and activity where it’s an utmost priority to personally connect with students. The nominator noted that this year, despite the decrease in enrollment at UH West Oʻahu, the education division was the only division that saw an increase (9%) in enrollment this semester.

“Rebecca plays an essential role in the recruitment and retention of students pursuing a career in teaching because she is the first person that connects with students to share about the education pathway,” the nominator wrote. “She is the face of our education program. Her vibrant personality and genuine heart for students matter.”

Carino-Agustin and Billote were recognized and celebrated at the conference, where they were honored with lei and framed certificates of the awards.

Read more in Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.
—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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