For those who have came in contact with the Pacific Islander Student Center or any of its programs here at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in the past four years, the weight of respect, gratitude and trust resonating in the way students speak their names is commonly understood. So many words can describe the imprint they have left on campus and it was truly a sad day when their departure from our UH campus was announced.
(The following is an excerpt from a letter in petition to applying for an award:)
“Aloha! This past week, the student community here at the Pacific Islander Student Center recently discovered that there was an opportunity to nominate faculty and staff for an award for outstanding leadership. Though this deadline has passed, we were inquiring to see if there could be special consideration for the recognition of two incredibly altruistic individuals, Vidalino Raatior and Desha Stanley-Raatior, as it is also their last year with us.
In the past four years, Vidalino (or Vid as we all know him as) and Desha have served the Pacific Islander community in a large capacity. With Vid being the director and Desha the educational specialist at the Pacific Islander Student Center and the AANAPISI grant, they have been positioned themselves to be the guiding light as students make their transition into the country and into higher education. The great majority of our student population is
composed of international students and/or first-generation college students, and it has been a difficult journey for most in this new phase of their journey, but the transition has been made lighter with their help.
The Pacific Islander Student Center serves hundreds of students Monday through Friday, with Vid and Desha knowing each student’s name, personal story, and educational major. Despite their heavily impacted schedules, they are always willing to pause their work at the quietest knock at the office door. It would take pages to record the stories and level of impact they have left, so here are a few highlights. They have worked hard to help us develop our voice, our role and our identity at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, with it being evident in these past four years as our students are beginning to receive leadership awards, speak at commencement ceremonies, and fill CSO positions on campus. They stepped beyond the four walls and into the community as they focus on the future of the University, creating programs that targets adolescents locally and internationally with those very teams receiving leadership awards for their efforts. They have personally mentored countless individuals, many whom have graduated or will soon graduate to be the first college graduate in their family and one of the few in their community.
At the University of Hawaii at Hilo, we have quite a unique yet empowering mission statement. In the very last sentence, it ends with this:
“Our kuleana(responsibility) is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawaiʻi, the Pacific region and the world.”
On this campus, Vid and Desha have exemplified this statement to it’s fullest. Our students are beginning to succeed with loud dreams and aspirations. Not only have they proven capable to do so, they now believe they can. We know that there is limited time, but if there is any way to get assistance in recognizing these two individuals we would greatly appreciate it.
Mahalo for your time”
With the AANAPISI grant in its final chapters at UH Hilo, Vid and Desha have started making their exit, and by the beginning of fall semester, they will be officially relocated back to Northern California. As of now, PISC is still the first and only student center in our nation dedicated to exclusively serve Pacific Islander communities on a four-year institution. The center they helped started has been a home away from home, a bridge connecting communities, and a revolving door for those seeking to make a greater impact, and this time it is their turn to make greater changes elsewhere. At the end of these four years, we can look back and say “Thank You” and “Job Well-Done”.
Throughout the center and on the gigantic banner plastered above Desha’s office is a sign that reads our motto:
“ We cannot control the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sail to always reach our destination.
Thank you, Vid and Desha. As you two adjust your sails, we will adjust ours, and we look forward to the day our paths cross once again.