College News

College News

HPU in Partnership with Papa Ola Lokahi Awards Inaugural Mana Wahine Fellowships

The College of Health and Society in partnership with Papa Ola Lokahi awarded inaugural Mana Wahine Fellowships to the following students:

  • Hi'ipoi Ho - Master of Social Work
  • Aovai Cole - Master of Public Health
  • Leila Chang - Master of Public Health
  • Christina Hafoka - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Raena Anderson - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Catherine Jara - Bachelor of Social Work

These outstanding HPU Women will each receive $10,000 in scholarships and year-long mentoring from Dr. Kayla Black, DPT Director of Student Affairs andDr. Halaevalu Vakalahi, CHS Dean.

The HPU Mana Wahine Fellowship program is sponsored by Papa Ola Lokahi, a prominent advocate and supporter of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.  This program is an example of Papa Ola Lokahi's endless commitment to higher education as a mechanism for supporting this generation of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in theri quest to create and sustain healthy communities.


College of Health and Society Awards

  • Mr. Paul Tran: 2022 Community Partnership Award
  • Dr. Erika Collazo-Vargas: 2022 Teaching Excellence Award
  • Ms. Heather Medicine Bear: 2022 Teaching Excellence Award
  • Dr. Brett Neilson: 2022 Publication of the Year Award
  • Dr. Kristen Johnson: 2022 Publication of the Year Award
  • Dr. Tammy Martin: 2022 Grantsmanship Award

Supporting Mental Health Access and Parity

Scholarly Articles for Culture, Social Determinants of Health, and Palliative Care in the Pacific Basin

Special Issue: Beyond Colonization to the Fore of Social Development

HPU's Department of Social Work Honors it's Spring 2021 BSW & MSW Graduates at Virtual Pinning Ceremony

On Friday, May 7, The Department of Social Work held a virtual Pinning Ceremony to honor students receiving their BSW and MSW Degrees!

Congratulations graduates!!!

Click here to watch the full ceremony


 Hawaii Pacific University Bids Aloha to Third Butler Daughter With a Degree In Nursing


Read More


Utilizing the Experiential Simulation Center to Teach, Learn, and Research

Integrating Simulation into a Research Study, Focusing on Obesity Bias and Stigma

Linda Nosaka, DNP, APRN-Rx, AGACNP-BC, is the first HPU Doctor of Nursing Practice student to perform a research activity utilizing simulation modalities in the CHS Experiential Simulation Center. Through her research, Nosaka found that health care provider bias and stigma are influencers of health care planning, and this drives cultural prejudice, affecting health outcomes.

Students Take Part in Global Simulation Healthcare Education Week Event

To stimulate interest and awareness of the CHS Simulation Program, nursing, public health, and social work students took part in a virtual event last fall. In celebration of Global Simulation Healthcare Education Week, Fall semester CHS Federal Work Study assistant Mya Frye led the event coordination, providing students a virtual tour of the Simulation Center followed by two games that tested students’ knowledge. Congratulations to students Brooke Ancheta and Richael Lyn Diza Ramos, the two SIM game winners!

DAISY Award Recipient Unpacks the Gratifying Field of Nursing

Linda Nosaka, DNP, APRN-Rx, AGACNP-BC, is the first HPU Doctor of Nursing Practice student to perform a research activity utilizing simulation modalities in the CHS Experiential Simulation Center. Through her research, Nosaka found that health care provider bias and stigma are influencers of health care planning, and this drives cultural prejudice, affecting health outcomes.







Congratulations to Associate Professor of Nursing, Dr. Hazel Downing, for being named 2020 Teacher of the Year! For 19 years, Downing has taught at HPU, specializing in Comprehensive Nursing at the undergraduate level and Advanced Pathophysiology at the graduate level. In addition to teaching at HPU, Downing is a Clinical Nurse Specialist for Critical & Emergency Care at Kuakini Medical Center.




Ramani Ravi Aneesh, DNP

DNP Project: Importance of End of Life Education to Hospice CNAs to Improve the Delivery of Care


Jennifer Baumstark, DNP

DNP Project: Improving Healthcare for People in Possession of Transformative Gender Identity (PIPOTGI): Impact of Education on Nurses' Knowledge and Awareness

Paul Okada-Coelho, DNP

DNP Project: Improving Access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP): Impact of an Urgent Care Protocol and Provider Education on PrEP Recommendations



Seiichi Nakamura, DNP

DNP Project: Improving Detection of Depression in Japanese Christian Elderly in Oahu Island: A Comparison Study of Geriatric Depression Scale Shorter Version (GDS-15) and Patient Health Questionnaire-9


Linda Nosaka, DNP

DNP Project: Obesity Simulation Education for Health Service Students: To Increase Awareness of Weight Bias and Stigma

The School of Social Work hosted an international symposia series: Building Global Connections. 

The first symposium was moderated by Dr. Michaela Rinkel (Associate Professor of Social Work - pictured, left) and titled "Learning from Across the Globe: Sustainability in Social Work Practice." This symposium featured panelists from Canada, India, USA, Australia and Bolivia who have centered sustainability work in their practice. 



The second symposium titled "Learning from Across the Country: Rural Interest Group" was moderated by Dr. Danielle Giroux (Assistant Professor of Social Work - pictured here). The symposium provided a look into rural clinical practice in Hawai'i, Alaska, and on the mainland. 


Dr. Peter Mataira (left) of the HPU School of Social Work, Dr. Paula Morelli (middle) of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Dr. Michael S. Spencer (right) of the University of Washington, are the editors of a special issue of the Journal of Indigenous Social Development titled Indigenous Communities and COVID-19: Impact and Implications. This special issue features articles that examine aspects of traditional cultures focused specifically on COVID-19 its disruptions to the dimensions of wellbeing and restoration of wellness. At the core of the articles presented is Compassion and Purpose. What has been shared represents the collective voices of resilience, resistance, adapativity, and inventiveness against forces of oppression. 

Dr. Kelly Collins of the HPU Nursing Department was invited to present her doctoral research at the International Healthcare Summit 2020: "Advanced in Healthcare, Innovation & Management." 


Dr. Hazel Downing of the Nursing Department presented at the Nursing World Conference. The title of her presentation was "Impact of nurse obesity on safe healthcare delivery." 


Faculty Researchers to Lead the Creation of the HPU Undergraduate Infrastructure Student Research Center

Dean Halaevalu F.O. Vakalahi, PhD, (Principal Investigator) and her illustrious team of HPU Co-PIs: David Horgen, PhD, Peter Mataira, PhD, and Scott Okamoto, PhD, were awarded $750,000 from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on General Medical Sciences to launch the "HUI SRC" HPU Undergraduate Infrastructure Student Research Center. 

Based on the need for future investigators and leaders in the biomedical field with a focus on inclusivity, health disparities, and health promotion, the creation of this biomedical research center will provide the opportunity to attract and mentor undergraduate students with an entrepreneurial health research spirit and who are indigenous Pacific Peoples (IPPs).


BSN alumni Dana Malia Fuerte and Sara Mitre were featured in the Hawai'i American Nurses Association August newsletter for their evidenced-based practice project titled "Reducing Hospitalized Length of Stay by Addressing Barriers to Discharge." This project analyzes cost efficient methods for reducing an inpatient's hospitalization in the acute care setting. The full write-up can be found here


The College of Health and Society practices multi-dimensional teaching methods to create a hands-on learning experience. Platforms include virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face. CHS offers didactic classroom experience; state-of-the-art simulation labs; clinical, internship, and practicum field experience; service learning and community engagement; and contributes to continuing education and professional development for faculty and students. 



A Q&A with a Leader in Hawai'i's Pacific Islander Communities: Dean Halaevalu Vakalahi


Halaevalu Vakalahi, PhD, the Dean of the College of Health and Society and a professor of Social Work, offers ways to help Pacific Islanders handle health issues, including COVID-19. The Q&A with her published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is posted here

To help address a need for nurses in local hospitals to care for COVID patients, the Hawai`i State Center for Nursing and Healthcare Association of Hawai`i are launching a new emergency recruitment program targeting newly graduated nursing majors. KHON reached out to nursing industry leaders, including HPU's Chief Nurse Administrator and Nursing Department Chair Dr. Pamela Smith. Smith said "Our students are ready. They've prepared for this moment." KHON broadcast interview is posted here


On Friday, August 14th, CHS hosted a DNP zoom presentation event. Five DNP candidates: Linda Nosaka, Jennifer Baumstark, Paul Okada-Coelho, Seiichi Nakamura, and Aneesh Ramani Ravi, presented their theses. 



Jayne Smitten, PhD, Director of HPU's College of Health & Society (CHS) Simulation Center, is among 13 individuals -- and the first simulation educator and administrator from Hawai`i -- selected for the Class of 2020 Fellows of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) Academy! Additionally, she is one of only 73 honored globally with the SSH Academy Fellow distinction. "It is truly an honor to be recognized in this distinguished company of fellows who have contributed and continue to impact this exciting, growing, and innovative field of healthcare simulation," Smitten said. 



Continuing in Unity and Caring About Our Community: A Q&A with a Nursing Major

In this Q & A with Brielle Hudik, she shares what she is up to with her courses, extracurricular activities, and work. Hudik, who is very involved in campus life, is Student Body Vice President and a Community Advisor at the Waterfront Lofts. This month, through online activities, Hudik and Student  Body President Elana Boise are committed to raising awareness about Sexual Assault Awareness Month.     

Dr. Lori Daniels of the School of Social Work presenting at the 17th Hawai`i International Virtual Summit on Preventing, Assessing & Treating Trauma Across the Lifespan. 



Social Work and Nursing faculty and alumni assist with COVID-19 testing around the island. HPU faculty pictured here include Jessica Garlock, Lori Daniels, Michelle Higgins-Mahe, Becky Yoza, Cate Critz and Jo Wakayama. 


College of Health and Society Student Who Works As a Health Educator

Anthony Pack is finishing up his Master’s in Public Health this semester while working full time as a health educator at the Waimanalo Health Center. His duties have been extended with the COVID-19 pandemic, and he shared this photo of his “doorman” station to screen and educate people entering the clinic while completing his homework assignments. “We are very proud of our students who are on the front line of public health during this crisis,” said Pack’s professor Gillian Dunn, DrPH.

“It is amazing as well as humbling to know that I have students now who will later be all over the world being superheroes and dedicating their own lives to protecting others, preventing diseases, promoting health, and saving others’ lives,” Christian T. Gloria, Ph.D., Department Chair and Associate Professor of Public Health, says about his students. The photo captures students in one of his online classes. 

Saturday, December 14th was a historical day for both HPU and the College of Health and Society! The first doctoral students graduated with their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The students are Kendra Spaulding and Sandra Kakiuchi (pictured here).  

CHS faculty, staff and students participate in Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease. 


Christine Tamayo, graduating with a BSN, will serve as the Fall 2019 Commencement undergraduate valedictory speaker. During her time at HPU, she was an active member of the Student Nurses' Association and fundraised and volunteered with local organizations, including Hawai'i Pacific Health the Blood Bank of Hawai'i.


BSW student, Micki Kilbury, is pictured above giving a presentation at the Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency on social work and climate change!


Our very own Dr. Michaela Rinkel, BSW Program Director and Associate Professor, along with Dr. Meredith Powers has recently released the Third Volume in their series of workbooks on Social Work and Environmental Sustainability. It is downloadable for FREE via the IFSW International Federation of Social Workers link here


Congratulations to Nicole Nakashima and Bryan Sarte who will be graduating with their Master of Public Health degrees in December 2019. The students are pictured here presenting their capstone presentations titled "Youth E-cigarette Usage and Oral Health" and "The effect of enhanced surveillance in gonorrhea case reporting and case report data reporting." 


Professors of Nursing Cate Critz, PhD, and Hobie Etta Feagai, EdD (pictured left and right, respectively), presented their research findings, entitled "Presenteeism Among Nursing Students in Three Countries," at the Madridge 5th International Nursing Conference. The conference took was held October 23-25, 2019 in Rome, Italy. The orignal research also included HPU faculty April Akeo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Michael Erickson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology. 


HPU College of Health and Society, along with The National Association of Social Workers - Hawai`i Chapter and The University of Hawai`i at Manoa - Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, hosted the first annual Legacy Speaker presentation and reception. The talk was titled "Social Work's Legacy of Advocacy-Clorinda Low Lucas" and was presented by Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey. 


Congratulations to MSW student Sasha Georgiades for being selected as a Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW/Student Veterans of America Legislative fellow! This is a prestigious fellowship and only 10 students are selected nationwide. Sasha will be traveling to Washington, DC this spring to meet with members of Congress and senior policy makers. 




Students of the College of Health and Society participated in the annual Economic InEquality Experiential Education event on October 26. This event engaged approximately 80 students in an educational experience that illustrated some of the structural barriers and repercussions of economic inequality. Its purpose is to enhance poverty awareness, increase understanding, and most importantly to stimulate partcipants to engage in actionable ways to address issues of economic inequality.


Along with the National Association of Social Workers - Hawai`i Chapter, Social Work students, faculty, and alumni participated in the Honolulu Pride Festival on October 19. 


The College of Health and Society participated in HPU's annual Door Decorating Contest and came in first place!


CHS students, faculty, and staff organized a campus “Wear It Pink Day” on Wednesday, Oct. 16, to support and spread awareness of breast cancer, which according to statistics, will impact one in eight women. The HPU ‘ohana, wearing pink shirts, shorts, skirts, hats, scarves, etc., took part in a walk, starting in front of Waterfront Plaza, as part of the awareness campaign. 



CSWE announced MSW student Destiny Brown a fellow for the 2019-20 academic year. The goal of the program is to increase the number of professionals trained to work with underrepresented and underserved racial/ethnic minority persons with or at risk for mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. Brown is doing her practicum work through Fernhurst, a furlough program run through the YWCA.




The Bachelors of Science in Public Health and Master of Public Health programs are now accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health! 




Facilitated by CHS Administrative Assistant Haley Lytle, CHS students participated in this annual community event held on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Hawai‘i State Capitol. About 20 Nursing students from the Child and Family course and their Professor Catharine Critz, PhD, provided first aid, blood pressure screening, and education about immunizations and vaping. Several Public Health students and facilitator Lytle offered a Teen Zone Booth, featuring a game with various exercises and trivia questions and public health education on healthy living, nutrition, and mindfulness.

Pictured (bottom) from left to right are Public Health (PH) students engaging with youth attendees: Stephanie Misaki, Charlene Agoot, and Amy Lee; PH student volunteers not pictured: Anthony Pack, Atalina Moala, and Queenie Castro


Kendra Spaulding, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, who recently graduated with her doctoral degree from HPU, won first place poster presentation at the National Conference for Nurse Practitioners in Acute Care 2019 conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, October 2-6. Spaulding’s research focused on smoking cessation interventions in low socioeconomic adult populations. More information on the DNP program here.


Leilani Ann Maxera, MSW alumni, is a death educator and home funeral advocate who lives in Honolulu, HI. During her time in HPU's MSW program she wrote her thesis on home funerals and their effects on grief. An excerpt of her thesis "Home Funerals and Their Effects on the Grief Process" was published in "Natural Transitions" Magazine. 

generations magazine

Anaeliz “Mina” Colon, Adjunct Faculty of Public Health, was featured for her work as a Breast Cancer Warrior in the August/September 2019 issue of Generations Magazine. Anaeliz was in high school when her mother, in her early 30s, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anaeliz’s grandma also had breast cancer so she had a higher risk of developing it. The summer after she graduated college, Anaeliz went through genetic testing and was identified as carrying BRCA2, a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer risk. It was also discovered that her risk of getting breast cancer was 87%. Anaeliz decided to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy. She says “the experience was emotional, but I could not feel luckier now that I had this option.” She recently started her own website – – due to the desire to interact with and support women in her age group that have gone through the same experience. Anaeliz is involved with the Hawaii chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. If you would like to get involved, please visit


guatemala  guatemala  guatemala  guatemala

Drs. Cate Critz and Hobie Etta Feagai led Nursing students from HPU on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. 


capstone sympoisum

Many students from the College of Health and Society participated in the university-wide 2019 Capstone Symposium. Of the 68 presentations, 7 CHS students won awards. 

Undergraduate - Project Category: 

  • Janice Hata (Public Health), on "Analyzing the Disparities in Maternal Mortality Among African American Women in the United States." 
  • Destiny Brown (Social Work), on "Identifying Adolescent Expressions of Intergenerational Trauma and How to Build Resilience." 
  • Jessica-Anne Valdenarro (Social Work), on "Effective Mentorship Programs: Are National Organizations Equipped to Handle Indigenous and Native People?

Graduate - Research Category

  • Maisa Thayer (Social Work), on "The Relevancy of Rituals in Surivor's Empowerment: Expression Circles" 
  • Adam Swanson (Public Health), on "Risk History Surveillance Assessment of Campylobacteriosis Cases in Hawaii from August 2018 to November 2018."
  • Jeff Grace (Social Work), on "Descriptive Factors Affecting Housing Interventions for VA Homeless Program Veterans in Hawai'i." 

CHS Dean's Award

  • Bryan-Joseph Tamayo (Public Health), on "Addressing the Health Disparities Among Micronesian Populations in Hawaii." 

The Public Health Department graduated 14 students with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree and 2 students with a Master of Public Health degree. The BSPH graduates were Sunshine Agcaoili, Marie Aguirre, Annalei Alcaide, Anna Borja, Jaypee Carreon, Alexis Cortes, Daphine Damian, Jenn Flores, Chaney Manarin, Mackenzie Otto, Daria Parkinson, Joleen Paul, Rita Poluchuck, and Byran-Joseph Tamayo. The MPH graduates were Adam Swanson and Javis Faletagaloa. 

Students that participated in community service events throughout the year were awarded service cords by the Public Health Club officers. There were also four departmental awards given to students: 

  • Chaney Manarin: BSPH Certificate of Meritorious Scholarship
  • Adam Swanson: MPH Certificate of Meritorious Scholarship
  • Alexis Cortes: Certificate of Meritorious Service
  • Jaypee Carreon: The Chair's Award

Dr. Lori Daniels of the School of Social Work was featured on Hawai'i news now discussing the 16th Annual Hawaii International Summit on Preventing, Assessing, and Treating Trauma. 

public health alum


Desiree Tupas, Master of Public Health alumna ('18), was selected for the prestigious and competitive California Epidemiologic Investigation Service (Cal-EIS) Fellowship Program. This program is designed to prepare epidemiologists for public health leadership positions in California. As a Cal-EIS fellow, Tupas' main objective is to develop projects that entail performing analyses on data collected from California's healthcare infrastructure. 


deans publication of the year


Dr. Michaela Rinkel (pictured left) was awarded the 2019 Dean's Publication of the Year award, along with her students Kelli Larsen, Chloe Harrington, and Christiana Chun for their article "Effects of Social Work Practice on Practitioner Spirituality." The article was published by Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought.

rso advisor

Jennifer Nafarette (right),  was awarded Registered Student Organization (RSO) Faculty Advisor of the Year for 2019 for her involvement in HPU's Student Nursing Assocation (SNA). The Student Nursing Association also won RSO of the Year and Most Distinguished RSO. Congratulations Jen and SNA! 

exchange trip

CHS students representing Nursing, Public Health, and Social Work traveled to Japan and Viet Nam during winter break, participating in the inaugural HPU Interprofessional Education Cultural Exchange trip. CHS faculty Patricia Burrell and Paul Tran led the trip. The group engaged with faculty and students from Osaka Prefecture University in Japan and Da Nang University and Hue University in Viet Nam, learning through lectures and presentations, social service visits, sightseeing and spending time with host families. Throughout their travels, the students spread aloha and shared the culture of Hawai'i, dancing and teaching hula, playing the ukulele and singing. 

Through the trip, the students had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different beliefs and viewpoints to solve social issues in the world.