U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono visited the University of Hawaii–West Oahu 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 Kuahuokala and the Student Organic Garden, 'Ulu'ulu: The Henry Ku'ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaii, and the new Academy for Creative Media (ACM) Student Production Center.
“For the last decade, UH West Oahu 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 mala (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 Kulana o Kapolei (director of Indigenous education), and Indrajit Gunasekara, financial aid officer, about their NiU NOW!/Uluniu Project movement, and planted an ulu (breadfruit) tree in the Uluniu Grove beside the mala.
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 'Ulu'ulu, the state’s official archive for moving images, where she spoke with staff about the digital preservation work they do with audiovisual materials sharing Hawaii’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 Oahu; 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 Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and public television entities; and the Hawaii Food Systems Summit, where participants brainstormed ideas for food system transformation and policy ideas for implementation during the 2023 state legislative session.
“UH West Oahu offers diverse programs in promising fields that can contribute to Hawaii’s economy, such as creative media and agriculture, and I enjoyed learning more about these initiatives,” Hirono said. “I will continue working to support Hawaii’s colleges and universities, as well as the students they serve.”