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Hawai'i Community College Announces 2020 Faculty, Staff and Community Awards

Hawai'i Community College is proud to honor community partners, alumni, faculty and staff who demonstrate exceptional effort and skill in serving our students, our campus and our wider community. The following awardees were announced during the annual All-College Meeting on Friday, May 8, 2020.

The Food Basket - Mahalo Award

food basket logoThe Food Basket is a community-based organization composed of network partners whose goal is to end hunger in Hawai'i County. They have been serving our community with warehouses in Hilo and Kona since 1989. The Food Basket mobilized to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak with expanded distribution systems for our most vulnerable populations. They also reached out and partnered with our growers and farmers who are now faced with oversupply when restaurants closed. Through The Food Basket, this connection has been vital to ensure that access to healthy food is available. In addition, they have been a valuable partner with Hawai‘i CC for the past several years for our on-campus food pantry. The Food Basket continued to support the Hawai'i CC food pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arthur Sampaga, Jr. - Alumni of the Year

arthur sampaga jr.Arthur Sampaga, Jr. is an alumnus of the Hawai'i Community College Nursing Program, earning his Licensed Practical Nursing Certificate in 1988 and his Associate in Science in Nursing Degree in 1991. He also earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from UH Hilo and his Master’s of Science in Nursing from Grantham University. Currently serving as Hilo Medical Center’s East Hawai'i Region Chief Nursing Officer, he also retired from the Hawai'i Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel with 30 years of service. During his two combat deployments, the decorated war veteran served as a Primary Trauma Care Provider, Mass Casualty Leader, Joint Forces Liaison Officer, and EMS Director. As a local healthcare leader, Sampaga has been on the forefront of Hawai'i Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff Fujii - Outstanding Service

Jeff FujiiJeff Fujii is an educational specialist and lecturer who serves both the Auto Body Repair and Painting Program and the Automotive Mechanics Technology Program. Employed at Hawai'i CC since 2014, Fujii is an ASE Certified Master Technician and a Hawai‘i CC alumnus. In addition to serving students in the two programs, he has been a positive, active member of the Hawai'i CC Kauhale who serves on key committees and has recently served as College Council Vice Chair and is now the College Council Chair. Fujii also participates in and leads outreach events in the community.

Ryan McCormack - Outstanding Lecturer

Ryan McCormackDescribed as a charismatic storyteller with deep knowledge of Hawaiian myth, culture, language and hula, Ryan McCormack is a lecturer in the Hawaiian Studies program. He has taught a wide range of courses, and students and fellow faculty praise his knowledge, sincerity, patience and enthusiasm. In addition to teaching duties, he is also called upon to be a leader during kipaepae ceremonies as Hawai‘i CC welcomes guests and new employees to the college.


George Paleudis - Outstanding Staff

George PaleudisGeorge Paleudis is the Physical Plant Manager at Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui. Under his leadership, Hawai‘i CC - Pālamanui has created a pleasing campus environment for potential students, their families and visitors from the community. Visitors have commented on the attractive appearance and general upkeep, and the upgrades and improved service have also helped boost campus morale. Paleudis is adept at analyzing and prioritizing projects, is a skilled communicator and cares about the safety and well-being of faculty, staff, and students.

Leanne Urasaki - Chancellor's 'A'ali'i Award

Leanne UrasakiLeanne Urasaki is the Instructional Technology Developer at Hawai‘i Community College, who helps faculty implement online classes. Her expertise was in high demand as the college moved all classes online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though she was on sabbatical at the time, Urasaki returned to work and proved to be a vital resource, providing institution-wide as well as personalized assistance for faculty. The spirit of this award is embodied in the attributes of the 'A'ali'i bush. This remarkable bush can stand the worst of gales, twisting and bending but seldom breaking off or falling over. Urasaki’s steadfast service during this time was a great value to our students and our campus community.

Service Awards

Grant Kaʻauʻa – 10 years

Melany Ayudan – 20 years

Sherrie Ann Straslicka-Walker – 20 years

Kenneth Shimizu – 30 years