UH West O‘ahu honors 10 graduates for outstanding achievements, service to community

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Julie Funasaki Yuen, (808) 454-4821
Public Relations and Marketing Department
Posted: Jul 15, 2009

Ten graduates of UH West Oʻahu (UHWO) were recently recognized for outstanding academic achievements and exceptional service to the community. Each year, UHWO faculty in the Humanities, Professional Studies and Social Sciences Divisions honor individual students who demonstrate extraordinary contributions in and out of the classroom.

"This year‘s honorees proved time and again that service to our communities is one of their primary priorities," said UHWO Chancellor Gene Awakuni. "They are not only a source of pride for us but have demonstrated the values that we seek in our students."

The following 2009 student award winners were honored:


Waialua resident Kische Kumura and Wahiawa‘s Akira LeBlanc won the Outstanding Humanities Student Award for exceptional academic achievements.

With an impressive 3.91 GPA, Kumura graduated with a bachelor‘s degree in Hawaiian Pacific Studies. While a student, Kumura helped fellow classmates with their course work and demonstrated excellent writing skills. She plans to pursue a master‘s degree in Hawaiian Studies at UH Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys working with native Hawaiian plants.

LeBlanc graduated from UH West Oʻahu with a bachelor‘s degree in English and a 3.97 GPA. She was an active member of the UH West Oʻahu Humanities Club. She tutored at Leilehua High School and UHWO‘s Writing and Learning Center -- where she provided guidance to fellow classmates. A New Orleans native, LeBlanc is a mother of two sons, Chris and Josh, and wife of Lemuel LeBlanc, a soldier in the U.S. Army currently deployed overseas in Iraq. She plans to teach English at the high school and college levels and will begin a master‘s program in Secondary Education concentrating in English this August at the University of Phoenix.

Professional Studies

Taryn Okuma of Pearl City was honored with the Hawaiʻi Association of Public Accounts Outstanding Senior in Accounting Award for her excellent academic achievement while completing her accounting studies at UHWO. An outstanding student with a 3.6 GPA, Okuma was president of the Accounting Club and led the club‘s many community service and professional networking activities.

The Hawaiʻi Society of Certified Public Accountants Outstanding Senior in Accounting Award went to Mano Takara who maintained an impressive 4.0 GPA while completing a bachelor‘s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting at UHWO. Takara served as the vice president of the Business Club and was an active member of the Accounting Club through which she participated in a variety of community service activities including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid assistance program. She resides in Mililani and has accepted a position at the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP, with plans to successfully complete the Certified Public Accountant Exam.

Ewa Beach resident Jessie Sacayanan won the Outstanding General Business Administration Student Award for his exceptional academic achievement in pursuit of a bachelor‘s degree in Business Administration.

Ewa Beach resident Catrina Manabe was recognized with the Outstanding General Public Administration Student Award for her exceptional academic record and success as a Department of the Navy Human Resources Technician. Manabe began her postsecondary studies at Leeward Community College where she won the Outstanding Business Technology Student Award in 2006. She graduated with a bachelor‘s degree in Public Administration and a certificate in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management from UHWO. Manabe plans to pursue a master‘s degree in Business while continuing employment with the Department of the Navy.

Richard Uiagalelei of Waipahu won the Outstanding Justice Administration Student Award for his impressive academic achievement while pursuing a bachelor‘s degree in Justice Administration at UHWO. A great role model, Uiagalelei consistently offered help and advice to fellow students and was an active member of the University‘s Justice, Public and Heath Care Administration Club.

Makakilo resident Kristopher Dung won the Outstanding Health Care Administration Student Award. In addition to his excellent academic record, Dung was actively involved in student government and the Health Care Administration Club. Following the completion of his exceptional performance as an intern at the Department of Veterans Affairs, he was recruited and hired as a full-time employee at the VA Medical Center. Dung was accepted into Loma Linda University's MBA program specializing in Health Care Administration and will begin studies this fall.

Social Sciences

Leianne K. Nagum of Kapolei received the Outstanding Social Sciences Student Award in recognition of her high level of academic achievement. Graduating with a bachelor‘s degree in Psychology and Sociology, Nagum is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the national honor society for Sociology undergraduates. At UHWO, she was an officer in the UH West Oʻahu Sociology Club and led several local community service projects including a food drive for the Maililand Transitional Housing Shelter and fundraising for the Leeward Domestic Violence Shelter and Partners in Health malaria prevention project in Malawi. Nagum is the mother of two children and spouse of a U.S. Navy retiree.

Big Island resident Andrew Archibald was recognized with the Outstanding Neighbor Island Social Sciences Student Award for his excellent academic achievements. His positive attitude, and outstanding written and oral presentations served as a model for fellow classmates. Archibald graduated from UHWO with a bachelor‘s degree in Social Sciences with a concentration in Political Science. A non-traditional student, he was inspired to return to college to complete his degree after working as a volunteer at the Hawaiʻi County Council and Hawaiʻi State Legislature, following a career in the military and working as a telephone company electronics technician. He has since enrolled in Adult Education classes in West Hawaiʻi with plans to become a substitute teacher this fall.


About UH West Oʻahu

UH West Oʻahu became a four-year, comprehensive university when it served its first class of freshmen in fall 2007. The University offers quality education, small classes and personalized attention at convenient locations. UH West Oʻahu held a ground blessing ceremony in January in anticipation of the start of construction for a state-of-the art, new campus in the City of Kapolei. For more information, visit uhwo.hawaii.edu, twitter.com/uhwestoahu or call 454-4700 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.

For more information, visit: http://www.uhwo.hawaii.edu