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UH-Hilo Distinguished Alumni Awards banquet set for Feb. 27


The University of Hawaii at Hilo Alumni and Friends Association honors three of its own with Distinguished Alumni Awards while three others will be recognized with Distinguished Service Awards at 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27 in the UH-Hilo Campus Center Dining Room. 

Distinguished Alumni Awardees for 2009 are environmental, planning and land use consultant Dr. Ron Terry, real estate broker Carol Ginoza-Arikawa, and Kumu Lehua Veincent, a noted teacher and school administrator. The husband and wife duo of Margaret Ushijima and the late state Sen. John Ushijima and state Rep. Clift Tsuji are the Distinguished Service Awardees.

Ron Terry

Dr. Ron Terry earned his BA in geography at UH-Hilo in 1980, and went on to earn a PhD in 1988 from Louisiana State University. He was an associate professor at UH-Hilo from 1989-1992, developing a reputation for excellence as a teacher in geography and environmental sciences.

Ron Terry

Ron Terry

In 1991, Terry started an independent consulting firm, Geometrician Associates. Despite his busy schedule as a successful CEO, Terry has managed to teach a course a year at UH-Hilo in environmental impact assessment and has also provided frequent guest lectures for other geography courses.

Terry served several years as education chairman of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board. In 2000, then-Gov. Ben Cayetano appointed Terry to the state’s Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council (MCZAC), a public advisory body that addresses coastal issues and advocates for the state’s Coastal Zone Management Program.

He has provided his environmental expertise pro bono to a number of community initiatives, including forest stewardship, Hawaiian farming rights, cultural learning and community facilities. Geometrician Associates supports the arts as a long-term corporate sponsor of the Hawaii Concert Society.

In June 2008, Terry established the Geography Founders Scholarship, naming the $25,000 endowed scholarship after UH-Hilo Geography Department founders Drs. Jim and Sonya Juvik, Jim Kelly and Jack Healy, who all inspired and encouraged him to continue his education after earning his degree at UH-Hilo.

Carol Ginoza-Arikawa

Carol S. Ginoza-Arikawa is a community leader in every sense of the word. A 1973 graduate of UH-Hilo with degrees in both English and social studies, she founded Ginoza Realty, Inc. in 1982 and remains its principal broker and president.

Carol Ginoza-Arikawa

Carol Ginoza-Arikawa

Ginoza-Arikawa has a long record of service to the real estate industry, the community and the University. She is a longtime member of the Hawaii Island Board of Realtors and has been active in industry organizations. She has been the board’s secretary and has served on the Grievance Committee since 1994. In 1995, she was selected as one of the Big Island Women of the Year. Since 2007, she has served on the state’s Regulated Industry Complaint Office (RICO) Advisory Committee.

Her community service includes membership on the Kuikahi Mediation Board of Directors since 2006, also serving as its fundraising co-chairwoman the last three years. She served as treasurer of Hilo Little League from 1997-2006 and served double-duty as secretary from 2000-2006. She was also on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo from 2003-2006.

Ginoza-Arikawa also has a long record of service to UH-Hilo. She chaired the UH-Hilo Athletic Fund Drive from 1992-1995 and has served on the UH-Hilo Athletic Advisory Board since 2003. She is a charter member of Hui Ka‘ua, serving on various committees, and co-chaired the Food Committee for the 2008 UH-Hilo New Faculty Reception.

Her company donated funds to furnish the Vulcan softball team in 2003, in 2007 she contributed toward the UH-Hilo Performing Arts “Name a Seat” campaign, and she is the newest member to join the Performing Arts Center’s Advisory Committee.

Lehua Mark Veincent

Known affectionately by many as “Kumu Lehua,” Lehua Mark Veincent is on the vanguard of Hawaiian language immersion education. The Hawaii Island native with genealogical ties to Ka‘u, Puna and Keaukaha, earned dual degrees at UH-Hilo — a BA in Hawaiian studies and a BBA in business in 1988, plus teacher certification in 1990. He has also earned two masters degrees from UH Manoa, in curriculum and instruction in 1999, and in educational administration in 2002.

Lehua Veincent

Lehua Veincent

Veincent has served as a teacher at Keaukaha School in Hilo, Paia Elementary School on Maui and Ke Kula o Nawahiokalaniopuu when it was established in 1994. He has taught kindergarten through 12th grades, and has also served as a lecturer and supervisor in the teacher education program at UH-Hilo. 

For more than two decades, he has taught and coordinated the Hawaiian language, literature, and cultural classes for the DOE Community School for Adults. He served as producer, host, curriculum developer, and instructor of ITV Hawaiian Language Conversation through a partnership between Hilo Community School for Adults and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning.

In 2001, Veincent co-founded the Ke Ana Laahana Public Charter School, a grades 7-12 Hawaiian cultural-based school within Keaukaha School. He has served as a state resource teacher in Hawaiian studies and language, vice principal at Hilo Intermediate and Hilo High Schools, and principal of Ke Ana Laahana.

Veincent is currently principal of Keaukaha Elementary School – a K-6 school on Hawaiian Home Lands, which has gained recognition as one of the schools meeting annual yearly progress goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Despite the long hours required of an administrator, Veincent continues to serve as coordinator of the Keaukaha night tutorial program for grades K-12 and summer school programs for high school students of Keaukaha with Aunty Luana Kawelu of the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, as he has for 12 years. He also continues to teach Hawaiian language in the evenings in Keaukaha and recently at the Kulani Correctional Facility.

Margaret Ushijima

Margaret S. Ushijima and her late husband John exemplify lives committed to the principle that higher education can break down social barriers and maximize human potential.

Margaret Ushijima

Margaret Ushijima

Margaret Ushijima began her service with the UH-Hilo Campus in 1963, as it was then known. A great many UH-Hilo graduates attribute much of their success to the encouragement, help, and candor she provided. She led the Office of Student Services as director and then dean of students from 1968 to 1973. She served in that capacity until her retirement in 1980, when she went to law school and after graduation, joined her husband in the family firm, Ushijima & Ushijima.

John Ushijima


John Ushijima

John Ushijima


While serving in the state Senate, John Ushijima was instrumental in the transformation of the two-year transfer institution that was the UH-Hilo Campus to a full four-year degree-granting college. At a time when there was considerable resistance to the idea of having a second four-year degree-granting institution in Hawaii, Ushijima brought his considerable influence in the Legislature to bear to make a degree-granting college in Hilo a reality. He also secured substantial appropriations to finance development of the campus infrastructure. After his retirement from the Senate, Ushijima was appointed to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents in 1987 and served for eight years.

John Ushijima passed away Aug. 13, 2006 at age 82. Margaret, who retired from the practice of law in 2003, continues to be active in community affairs.

Rep.  Clift Tsuji

State Rep. Clift Tsuji understands the positive economic impact a strong university has on a community such as Hilo, both as a large-scale employer and as an educator of the local workforce.

Tsuji, a retired Central Pacific Bank senior vice president, has long been a staunch supporter of UH-Hilo. Now in his third term representing the 3rd House District, Tsuji has assumed a proactive role as a creator of and advocate for legislative initiatives to benefit UH-Hilo.

Rep. Clift Tsuji

Rep. Clift Tsuji

In the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions, Tsuji introduced three bills and one concurrent resolution directly affecting UH-Hilo, two relating to Hawaiian language education. As chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Tsuji introduced a measure requesting that the UH-Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management collaborate with the state Department of Agriculture and Hawaii Community College to conduct a study to evaluate programs developed by the Kulani Correctional Facility to aid in the revitalization of state agriculture.

Closer to home, Tsuji has worked as a member of the UH-Hilo Education Department’s Advisory and Advocacy Group. He provided support for Associate Professor Seri Luangphinith and the book project of her English 323 class, “Ku Kilakila: Writing from the Big Island.” In addition, he supported repairs to the Manono Street Campus, testified before the Board of Regents in support of the China-U.S. Center and worked to advance the UH-Hilo Baccalaureate Nursing program and to fund faculty positions.

In addition to the awards ceremony, there will be a silent auction with proceeds to the UH-Hilo Alumni Scholarship Fund.

Tickets are $50 each, $375 for a table of eight. The RSVP deadline is Feb. 17. 

For reservations, call the UH-Hilo Marketing & Alumni Office at 974-7501 or 974-7643.

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