Skip to Main Content

Learn more about UH West O‘ahu's response to COVID-19.

Home West O‘ahu Happenings UH West Oʻahu ʻohana share reasons for gratitude

UH West Oʻahu ʻohana share reasons for gratitude


Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

Thanksgiving Day may not be what most of us hoped it would be, but there are still so many reasons to celebrate: The love of family and friends. The support from school and work. The blessings of food and health.

While festivities this year will be different, one thing that shouldn’t change is our sense of gratitude — because there is still so much to be thankful for despite all the lows of 2020.

In a recent message to the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system, UH President David Lassner shared tips on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving and also expressed his appreciation for the UH community.

“As I reflect on the challenges of 2020, I give thanks for the privilege of being a part of this remarkable University of Hawaiʻi community,” Lassner said in his message. “Our students, faculty, staff and leaders have risen to face every challenge the year has thrown at us, and as a result, our 10 UH campuses are among the safest in the country. You make me incredibly proud.”

We reached out to our UH West Oʻahu ʻohana — faculty, staff, and students — and asked them to tell us what they are thankful for this year. We share their stories with you in hopes that you will also reflect on your own reasons to celebrate today.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Rhenessa Lynne Cabudol
Elementary Education major

Rhenessa Lynne Cabudol and family.

Regardless of the 2020 pandemic, I’m grateful for the time I was given to spend with my family. We all live a busy life that we sacrifice time with our loved ones. Although the COVID-19 virus has unfortunately arrived to our Islands, it has given us a chance to slow things down and reflect on our lives. I’m grateful for my family because we all strive to be better for not only ourselves, but for the one that loves and supports us. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.



Sharla Hanaoka
Director of the Academy for Creative Media at UH West Oʻahu

I am most thankful for having the ability to wake up every day and be surrounded by amazing family and friends, including my students — past and present.



Cassie Hardin
North Shore
Information Security and Assurance major
Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu (ASUHWO) Sophomore Class Senator

Thankful for: The fact that I have a home, food, people that support me, and an education!



Iona Kaai
Elementary Education major

Iona Kaai and family.

During this time of COVID, social distancing, and distance learning, some might find it hard to think of things to be thankful for. But I choose to view these times from a positive perspective. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer a year ago. My daughter and I live with him and my mom, so we have been learning to live in this new stage of life on a day-to-day basis. At first I couldn’t see any positives in this situation, but my mom rearranged my positive. She said, due to COVID, the stay-at-home order, and distance learning, we now have more time to spend with my dad, whose time is winding down. We have all grown closer during these trying times and lean on each other in moments of despair. I am thankful for my family, the time we have been given with each other, and the beauty of hope and perspective. I am thankful for the choice I have to view situations from a positive or negative perspective. I am thankful for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, and the company of those I love.



Jenna Marie Marcos
Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing
ASUHWO President

I’m thankful for the people in my life who kept me sane during this whole fiasco of a year. It’s been rough for everyone and at times it’s hard to visualize what is to come. However, I’m thankful there are certain people out there — from friends, family, and school — to keep the narrow vision I would get at times to stay open at the opportunities that lies ahead.



Nancy Nakasone
Director of Human Resources

Although my family didn’t get to celebrate my daughter’s college graduation or my son’s wedding as planned, this was a year filled with gratitude, perseverance and resilience. This year taught us to be better problem solvers, and more patient, thoughtful and compassionate. So thankful that my friends, family and co-workers have been safe and healthy. Looking forward to a prosperous 2021, and maybe news of a grandchild in 2022. Hopes and dreams can prevail.



Kulanui Perez
Kekaha, Kauaʻi
Political Science major
ASUHWO Secretary

This year I am thankful for our mayor, Derek Kawakami, for doing everything in his power to protect our community from the pandemic. I am thankful for everyone who showed aloha to their communities by donating to those who have lost their jobs. I am thankful to be in UH West Oʻahu as college, especially university, never seemed like an option for me in the past. I am thankful for my friends, family, professors, and faculty who have all helped me get through this semester.



Alan Rosenfeld
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Boy and cat.

“We can complain that rose bushes have thorns or we can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses.” – Quotation of disputed origin.

In the midst of the challenges that engulf us all this year, I will strive to focus on the roses in my life: My wife. My son. My health. My career. The morning call of the curious myna. The friendly smile of a complete stranger. The vast expanse of the azure Pacific viewed from the hills of Makakilo. Pleasant memories of times gone by. A place to call my home.



Kimberlin Leilani Sellers
Early Childhood Education major

Although we are stuck at home during this dreadful pandemic, I am grateful and thankful that my husband and I are still able to work (although remotely). The “blessing in disguise” is that I am able to be with my family. No one has thankfully contracted COVID-19 in my home, so we have many things to be thankful for!



Shealyn Torres
Business Administration major

I am thankful that God has granted me and my loved ones another day to wake up to. Alongside that, I am thankful for the trials and tribulations because, although they can be troubling, they ultimately make me a stronger and better individual. The list of thankfulness is truly indefinite!

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff