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The Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award was established by Tadashi and Elizabeth Kunimoto to honor the founders of Chikara Products, Inc., specializing in Hawaiʻi foods such as Aloha Tofu, Maui Natto and Chikara Konnyaku. This award is given in alternate years: on even years to a faculty member, and on odd years to a student, who makes a significant contribution to career and technical education in the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges.

Student in firefighting gear
Dayton Uchiyama

Dayton Uchiyama, a student majoring in fire and environmental emergency response at Honolulu Community College, is the recipient of the 2023 Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award.

While excelling in academics, Uchiyama’s leadership has instilled pride and purpose into all activities for student leaders and their crews. Before training activities, he leads physical fitness, and following skills training directs after-action reviews to improve individual and group performances. Uchiyama conducts business meetings between classes to organize projects and fundraising for a course certification ceremony and an open house/family day event to comply with fire and life safety education for community service skills training.

Through Uchiyama’s guidance and care, students have improved their skills to pass and qualify for various fire agencies’ physical ability tests leading to employment. He has conducted firefighter muster research, a community event, used to recruit, fundraise and promote fire and life safety. He has coordinated participation and involvement of several fire departments to enhance skills training for students and the community.

Uchiyama exemplifies a caring and proactive leader who has enabled his peers to experience innovative learning as well as excel in their educational journey.

Chancellor Karen Lee said, “Honolulu Community College is so proud to have Dayton be the recipient of this year’s award. He is a true servant-leader, who leads by example in a program that demands integrity and teamwork, and he is deserving of this honor. We look forward to hearing about his accomplishments as a firefighter one day!&rdquo

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