Jeneanne Lock is pursuing a Master’s of Arts in Environmental Humanities in the College of Humanities.
Kaimana Kahale is pursuing a Master’s of Education in Education, Culture and Society in the School of Education.
N.S. ‘Ilaheva Tua’one’s dissertation, Tahitian Beaches and London Parlors, argues that British and, later American, subjectivities and identities are produced through explorer and discovery narratives. Her close readings of 18th c. and 19th c. British and American literature – both fiction and non-fiction – expose and destabilize some of the most persistent and pernicious myths about the Pacific and Pacific Islanders while also demonstrating how these narratives produced British and American subjects at home and in the colonies. Beginning in Fall 2020 she will begin a tenure-track assistant professorship in the Women’s and Ethnic Studies Program (WEST) at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Tanjerine Vei is a Ph.D. candidate in Education, Culture, and Society, at the University of Utah. Their research focuses on the development of pedagogies that promote critical consciousness and healing, spiritual activism, and community building. A central focus of these pedagogical approaches is creating teaching and learning environments that take on a playful spirit that can facilitate dialogue across difference. Within this approach, artmaking, broadly defined, becomes a means for both generating personally meaningful creations as well as for engaging in collective processes of meaning-making as participants explore the personal and systemic complexities of current social issues. Their dissertation, titled “Spiritual Activism in Activist Education: Examining the Spirit of Transformative Pedagogies,” is a critical participatory action research project wherein the research conducted is in community with those for whom the research is intended. In this project, a team of activist educators utilizes queer phenomenology to trace the presence of underlying oppressive forces that can manifest in activist approaches to teaching and learning and seeks to turn toward spiritual activist and decolonial ideologies as guides for undoing and creating anew their educational practices in an ongoing process of studied change. Tanjerine is also an artist and gardener who enjoys creating visual art on paper and canvas as well as in living landscapes and they delight in making kombucha and taking care of their three cats with their partner.
Dr. Angela L. Robinson (Wito clan of Chuuk, Micronesia) researches within the fields of affect studies, Indigenous studies, and performance studies. Currently, she is the inaugural Mellon-Pasifika Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Utah. She received her Ph.D. in Gender Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019. Her current book project, Performing the Pacific: Affect, Sociality, and Sovereignty, examines affective regimes of colonialism in Oceania and the ways in which Indigenous performance articulates alternative forms of sociality and sovereignty through ontologies of corporeality. Her forthcoming article, “Of Monsters and Mothers: Affective Climates and Human-Nonhuman Sociality,” will appear in the August 2020 issue of The Contemporary Pacific. She currently serves as the national representative of Micronesia for the Federation of International Dance Festivals.
Kaleieha Tuitupou – “So’o le fau ma le fau”, in working together we can accomplish great things – a mentality Kalei would keep in mind as she grew up in the diverse Westside culture of Salt Lake City. As a current junior at the University of Utah, she is a Sociology major with an emphasis in Criminology and an English Creative Writing minor. She is interested in the stories of people and was able to serve for a year and a half in New York City, where she was able to meet and talk to many people of different backgrounds. Before this service, she was a tutor for students from refugee families and worked on an urban farm in Glendale for Utahns Against Hunger. While Kalei enjoys learning all types of stories and visiting other places, she knows the best stories come from a family at home, because knowing where you come from helps you to know where you are going. She is very excited for this adventure as a Pasifika Ambassador serving with University Neighborhood Partners through the University of Utah Pacific Islander Studies Initiative.
Teila Witt is a Samoan American who is currently a freshman and wants to enter into the medical field. This semester Teila has been working with Dr. Aikau and Dr. Robinson to organize the Pacific Islander Symposium – Pasifika Indigeneity and the Diaspora. She’s acted as the flyer designer and student volunteer coordinator.
Kyala Brown is a Tongan-Mexican American from Salt Lake City who is currently a sophomore and has yet to declare a major. As both a Pasifika Ambassador and Opportunity Business Scholar, Kyala has learned the importance of persistence and learning to overcome unexpected obstacles. Her main responsibilities as an ambassador has included working with our Bridge Director on outreach, recruitment and communication needs for the Summer Bridge Program. Kyala’s responsibilities include karaoke, scrapbooking and softball.
Enee Tiolu is a Samoan, Tokelauan American from Waianae, Hawai’i and a sophomore current majoring in Pre-Business. Last semester she worked with Dr. Kehaulani Vaughn and created a few fliers for events and courses that serve PI undergraduate and graduate students. She also helped organize and logged scholarly articles and books for Dr. Vaughn’s upcoming courses. When needed, she transcribes research interviews with Dr. Vaughn on Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Enee’s interests include outdoor activities, music and shopping, and her future goals include improving her organizational skills and real estate investing!
Mariana Sablan is Chamorro American from Tooele, Utah and a sophomore currently majoring in Political Science and Economics with an emphasis in Statistical Analysis. This semester she is working as the Program Coordinator for the Pacific Islander Community Census Outreach Project through the Utah Pacific Island Civic Engagement Coalition where she will oversee 7 census outreach specialists in their efforts to reach PI communities and track their contacts, hours, and material requests. She is actively involved both on and off-campus and attends West Valley City Council meetings, Union Programming Council, Greek Life, and more! Mariana’s goals include continuing her education through a graduate program, but is still deciding whether to pursue political science or economics. She hopes by being a pasifika ambassador, she will better her understanding of local politics and how these political intricacies relate to Pacific Island populations.