Campus Life


By Ann Tai Choe, Ph.D.

February 27, 2024
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  • Yukiko Oki

    Yukiko Oki.

  • Ann Tai Choe

    Ann Tai Choe.

  • Tyson de Moura Umberger

    Tyson de Moura Umberger.

  • Vanessa Balagtas

    Vanessa Balagtas.

  • Jay Pacpaco

    Jay Pacpaco.

In a recent panel discussion featuring alumni from Hawaiʻi Pacific University's TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program, graduates shared their varied and inspiring career trajectories. The event showcased how HPU's TESOL program has equipped educators with the skills and knowledge to thrive in global teaching environments, research, and beyond.

Diverse Career Achievements Rooted in HPU's TESOL Education

Alumni speakers, including individuals teaching abroad in Korea, university faculty members in Japan and Hawaiʻi, and specialists in instructional design, highlighted the comprehensive and practical nature of the TESOL program at HPU. The panelists shared memorable experiences from their time at HPU, such as engaging in hands-on practice teaching opportunities in the classroom, creating impactful learning materials, and building invaluable networks with peers and faculty.

From Classroom to Global Impact: Alumni Insights

Dr. Yukiko Oki, Assistant Professor at Temple University, Japan, traced her journey from being a novice in teaching English as a second language to her current role as an assistant professor at Temple University's Japan campus. Yukiko underscored the TESOL program's role in sparking her passion for ESL teaching and providing her with a robust foundation for her academic and professional ventures, including her significant contributions to English proficiency testing and textbook review in Japan.


Dr. Ann (“Diane”) Tai Choe, Lecturer of Applied Linguistics and Director of International Group Programs at HPU, highlighted how the program's focus on lesson planning and material creation has been fundamental in her teaching and administrative roles. Diane's story underscored the program's role in preparing graduates for diverse educational settings.


Tyson de Moura Umberger, PhD Student in Hispanic Linguistics, shared his journey through diverse teaching and administrative roles across Ecuador, Brazil, Canada, and Japan, highlighting the adaptability and wide-ranging skills the TESOL program instilled in him. His experiences underline the program's effectiveness in preparing graduates for varied educational contexts and challenges.


Vanessa Balagtas, MA Student in Learning & Design, shared her journey from teaching in places like South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and France, to developing e-learning platforms and pursuing a Master's degree in Learning Design. Her story illustrated the versatility of the TESOL degree, showing how it opens doors to both teaching and educational technology fields.


Jay Pacpaco, Academic Program Director, currently teaching at Hawaiʻi Tokai International College, reflected on her transition from teaching to administrative roles. She shared how the TESOL program's emphasis on building strong networks has been instrumental in her career development.


Ciera Holder, who is currently residing and teaching in South Korea, praised the TESOL program for its comprehensive preparation, which made her transition to teaching abroad seamless. Her experience demonstrates the program's effectiveness in equipping graduates with the skills needed for international teaching positions.

Engagement and Reflection

The event also included interactions with faculty and students, fostering a sense of community and providing current students with invaluable mentorship and insights into the professional world of TESOL.

Fostering Global TESOL Leaders

The panel was a testament to the TESOL program's commitment to producing educators and leaders equipped to meet the challenges of today's globalized world. Each speaker's story was a unique reflection of how the program has not only supported their professional growth but also contributed to the global TESOL community.

For more information about the TESOL program and upcoming events, please contact Join us in shaping the future of English language teaching and learning across the globe.

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