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Lā Pūnua welcomes nearly 200 incoming students to UH West Oʻahu


Lā Pūnua welcomes nearly 200 incoming students to UH West Oʻahu

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

After checking in at a registration table at the start of a University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu event, Kapolei resident Sean Colotario, 17, made his way to find a seat among a crowd of other students at the campus’ Outdoor Learning Space.

Colotario, who graduated this year from Kapolei High School, shared how he was looking forward to the day’s activities.

“I hope I can meet some of my old friends and probably connect with other people, too,” Colotario said.

Colotario was among nearly 200 participants at Lā Pūnua, an in-person orientation event held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 12 on campus for incoming students to support their transition into college. Lā Pūnua aimed to introduce students to UH West O‘ahu’s resources and traditions, and connect them to current and future student leaders in a social environment.

“Lā Pūnua is a big celebration and send off for incoming students to our UH West O‘ahu ‘ohana,” said Rebecca Carino-Agustin, College Success Advisor and First-Year Experience Coordinator. “The hope is that this tradition excites students about our campus while supporting their transition to this new chapter in their lives as young scholars. That is imperative to a successful start in their college journey.”

Incoming student posing next to the Pueo Gaming Club booth.
A student posing next to the Pueo Gaming Club booth. See more photos on UH West O‘ahu Flickr, link below.

Lā Pūnua offered students opportunities to meet new friends and network, learn about getting involved at UH West O‘ahu, and get connected to the campus before classes begin on Aug. 22. The agenda included workshops presented by UH West O‘ahu faculty and staff, games and prizes, lunches and snacks, and more.

Nia Araiza Ramos, 18, said she enjoyed the workshop, “Bridging the Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want to Be,” presented by UH West O‘ahu Career Services Coordinator Loea Akiona. The workshop explored the connection between income and lifestyle, and how this knowledge can be included in the career decision-making process.

“It definitely was helpful, especially for reaffirming what I want to do and how it works with my lifestyle,” said Ramos, a recent Kapolei High School graduate from Makakilo. … “It made me feel more confident.”

Other Lā Pūnua workshops included:

  • “To See or Not to See” by Sharla Hanaoka, director of the Academy for Creative Media at UH West O‘ahu. The workshop looked at creativity and the power it has on the world around us.
  • “Resilience and Growth Mindset” by Dr. Katherine Aumer, assistant professor of Psychology. The presentation featured studies and stories about how people who succeed tend to maintain a growth mindset and foster elements of resilience.
  • “Speaking and Presentations” by Marnelli Joy B. Ulep, Business Administration Program. Participants got tips on being their personal best while speaking and presenting — skills that will help them throughout their academic journey and into their career.
  • “Ka Waihona ‘Ike: A Treasury of Knowledge” by Kawena Komeiji and Carina Chernisky, librarians with the James & Abigail Campbell Library. Students learned a simple technique for evaluating a resource and how the library can kāko‘o (support) them throughout their academic journey at UH West O‘ahu.

Wahiawā resident Avery Smith, 18, said thanks to Lā Pūnua, she’s feeling confident about her upcoming first year at UH West O‘ahu.

“I’m pretty excited about the school year,” said Smith, who graduated from Leilehua High School. “This has helped with seeing the campus and meeting new people.”

To see photos from the event, visit the Lā Pūnua 2022 album on Flickr.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff