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Pride of CTAHR 1 May 2022

Pride of CTAHR

Jessica Lau is named a 2022 Truman Scholar

Congratulations to Jessica Lau for being named a 2022 Truman Scholar! Jessica is a double major undergraduate in Human Development and Family Studies and psychology with double minors in peace studies and communicology. She was selected from a pool of more than 700 students from universities around the U.S for her dedication to public service, academic excellence, and outstanding leadership potential. In addition to national recognition, Jessica will receive $30,000 in funding for her graduate studies, as well as access to leadership training, internship opportunities, and a network of public service scholars. 

2022 Ka Pouhana Mentor Award 18 April 2022

2022 Ka Pouhana Mentor Award

Thao Le of the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences

Thao is a professor in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program and has been with CTAHR for more than 11 years. In that time, she has built a reputation for engaging, encouraging, and inspiring the students she comes in contact with. She has persuaded countless students to join HDFS and find their calling. Through their interactions with Thao, many students start to believe in their ability to achieve goals they might not have thought themselves capable of.  Beyond her duties as a professor and mentor, Thao has written two children’s books on social and emotional learning, freely distributed to teachers and heal/social service providers throughout the pandemic. Her coaching and guidance have paved the way for many of Hawaiʻi’s current educators and social workers. They are making a positive difference in the lives of our keiki and their families.  Many of these former students note that Thao was a significant factor in their success, and for this, we recognize her with the Ka Pouhana award!

Thao will be honored at the 2022 CTAHR 'Ohana Banquet.

Feeding Mental Health 7 December 2021

Feeding Mental Health

HDFS + UGC Fruit Hui team up to collect, donate fruit baskets

For this past Thanksgiving, student interns Leah Ramos and Kalani Akau and their advisor, Sothy Eng, took the initiative to collect fruits from families' backyards and put them together in baskets, which they donated to Mental Health Kōkua, a local organization that serves adults striving for mental wellness. The Urban Garden Center’s Fruit Hui immediately came on board, generously donating its entire harvest of lemon, tangerine, orange, papaya, mango, and starfruit, estimated to be more than 100 pounds of fresh, nutritious, delicious items – and all hand-picked by UGC volunteers Linda, Susie, Glenn, Jessie, Karen, Kim, and others.

“These fruit baskets not only provide nutritional food for our community members, but also help toward promoting sustainable food systems as abundant foods are being sourced and shared with those who are struggling with food access,” says Sothy of the Human Development and Family Studies program in the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences. “This food distribution is one of the elements within the food systems that connects between the home/community food systems with our community members who are suffering from social injustice of healthy food access."

Extension’s Kalani Matsumura adds, “The UGC volunteers normally donate these fruits to the Hawaiʻi Food Bank, as well as the CTAHR student food pantry, but today they are happy to support HDFS students’ Thanksgiving project to put together nice baskets for the needy. Thank you for the great work you're doing for families in Hawaiʻi!

Mental Health Kōkua serves adult individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses often causing the individual to feel alone and separated from reality, explains Les Gusman, County Director-Oahu.

“This random act of kindness that you are providing gives them hope,” he says. “We appreciate Brooke Fisher, an HDFS alumni and MHK former intern, who is now doing her Master's in Social Work at Columbia University, for her continuous effort connecting CTAHRʻs Home Garden Network program to our organization.”

Cultivating Kindness 15 November 2021

Cultivating Kindness

HDFS prof authors a new book for Hawaiʻi’s keiki

With 1,000 copies sponsored and disseminated by the Hawaiʻi Dept. of Human Services, Office of Youth Services, of a new book by Thao Le, social service and human resource agencies throughout the state will be more equipped to help our keiki with their social-emotional learning and literacy skills. “Akahai” is a creative narrative for encouraging loving kindness among our keiki. It draws inspiration from Aloha, as espoused by the teaching of Native Hawaiian poet and philosopher Aunty Pīlahi Paki, explains Thao of the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences, and resonates with the kind seed in each of us.

“The book focuses on akahai, kindness, and encourages keiki to explore what it means to be kind and what is kindness,” she says. “My hope is for it to serve as a useful socio-emotional resource during this pandemic.”

Thao’s intern student, Adam Ting, is the book’s illustrator. Her graduate research assistant Mayuho Kunogi and intern Johnette Funtanilla presented Akahai at the recent Schools of the Future Conference under the socio-emotional learning sector, and are currently developing cultural- and place-based lesson plans.

Several copies are also being provided to Hawaiʻi Dept. of Education resource teachers, one of whom noted, “I enjoyed the cute story so much that I read the book again and again. Akahai is so appropriate and needed nowadays because people are heightened with anxiety and anger, resulting in more selfish and unkind behaviors.”

Pick up your copy of Akahai from Legacy Isle Publishing. Thao is currently working on a related work focusing on humility. She’s also the guest on Wednesdays on Olelo channel 53 to discuss the book.

Stress, Coping, and Aging 13 September 2021

Stress, Coping, and Aging

HDFS contributes a chapter to a widely used reference book

The 9th edition of the highly anticipated Handbook of the Psychology of Aging includes a chapter co-written by Lori Yancura of the Human Development and Family Studies program, part of the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences. The chapter, “Stress, Coping, and Aging,”  is an integrative topic that includes the psychological, emotional, and physical aspects of adult development. This is particularly important in Hawaiʻi because the well-being of older adults, who are disproportionately affected by COVID and economic downturns, influences the well-being of our communities here in the Islands. “The Handbook is edited by the top scholars in the field and widely used as a reference,” Lori says. “It is very influential on many aspects of aging research, and an important resource for researchers and practitioners who study older adults around the world.”

She adds, “This contribution will help establish UH as a valued source of expertise on stress and coping in older adults, especially during times such as now when they need our help the most.”

Read more here.


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