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Senator Hirono crouching and touching the ulu sapling
Sen. Hirono planted an ʻulu (breadfruit) tree during her January 12 visit

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono visited the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu on January 12, and spoke with students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators about initiatives in sustainable food and agriculture, food security, digital media, labor education and research, and more.

As part of her visit, Hirono toured Hale Kuahuokalā and the Student Organic Garden, ʻUluʻulu: The Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi, and the new Academy for Creative Media (ACM) Student Production Center.

“For the last decade, UH West Oʻahu has steadily worked to expand the programs, resources, and support available to its students,” Hirono said in a release. “They have demonstrated their commitment to creating opportunities to enable all students—particularly underrepresented students—to receive a quality post-secondary education.”

During Hirono’s tour of the māla (garden), she met with Albie Miles, assistant professor of sustainable community food systems, and discussed the program, which prepares students for jobs in the sustainable food and agriculture sector. Hirono also spoke to Manulani Aluli Meyer, Konohiki of Kūlana o Kapolei (director of Indigenous education), and Indrajit Gunasekara, financial aid officer, about their NiU NOW!/Uluniu Project movement, and planted an ʻulu (breadfruit) tree in the Uluniu Grove beside the māla.

Her next meeting was with William Puette, director of the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR), which is designed to provide labor education, research and labor-related programs to workers, their organizations and the general public. CLEAR recently established a labor studies certificate program.

Hirono then visited ʻUluʻulu, the state’s official archive for moving images, where she spoke with staff about the digital preservation work they do with audiovisual materials sharing Hawaiʻi’s culture, traditions and collective memory.

Finally, Hirono toured the new ACM Student Production Center with Chris Lee, founder and director of the ACM System; Sharla Hanaoka, director of ACM at UH West Oʻahu; and creative media students and alumni, who shared the work they are doing within the hub for creative media education throughout the ACM System.

Hirono also stopped by and briefly spoke at two events on campus: a board meeting for Pacific Islanders in Communications, a national nonprofit media arts organization whose board of directors represent Hawaiʻi, Guam, American Samoa and public television entities; and the Hawaiʻi Food Systems Summit, where participants brainstormed ideas for food system transformation and policy ideas for implementation during the 2023 state legislative session.

UH West Oʻahu offers diverse programs in promising fields that can contribute to Hawaiʻi’s economy, such as creative media and agriculture, and I enjoyed learning more about these initiatives,” Hirono said. “I will continue working to support Hawaiʻi’s colleges and universities, as well as the students they serve.”

For more, go to Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.
—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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