6th Annual HPGS Fundraiser to honor John McDermott
On November 3, 2022, the Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society honored John McDermott for his undying devotion to Kupuna and their families throughout the state of Hawaii and our nation. John went from grammar school to the University of Notre Dame, arriving in Hawaii as counselor and assistant chaplain at the Hawaii State Hospital in May 1985. Wishing to remain in Hawaii, John went on to work at Hale Kipa, Chaminade, University of Hawaii, Catholic Charities, Maunalani Nursing Home, and Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
It was in August 1998 that John’s journey as the Hawaii State Long-Term Care Ombudsman began. As the Ombudsman, he advocates for the wellbeing and safety for Hawaii’s elder population, with attention to those that reside in long-term care and assisted living facilities. His greatest achievement since taking his position was to have five full-time state ombudsmen for Neighbor-Islands (Kauai, Maui, Hilo, Kona and one more for Oahu) made a part of the State budget. That goal was fulfilled when the Governor signed that legislation into law in July 2022.
He continues to fight for prevention of elder abuse and neglect, resident veterans, long-term care initiatives, nursing home staffing requirements, reducing language barriers, elder prisoners, increasing the personal needs allowance, and end-of-life decision making.
Tony Lenzer Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships in Aging
The Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society (HPGS) raises funds and awards scholarships to college students interested in careers involving aging and older people. These scholarships are funded by generous donations from the Broadhead family, Assisted Living Options Hawaii, and many individual donors. Each year, HPGS offers Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships for students who have a serious interest in professional work related to aging, long-term care, and/or death and dying.
Thank you for your interest in the Tony Lenzer Scholarships in Aging. The application process for 2022 is now closed. However, please visit us again in Spring 2023 when next year’s scholarship program will open.
Eldercare Worker Training Award
HPGS is pleased to announce a training awards program designed specifically for persons currently working with, or planning to work with, older adults. These awards will provide tuition assistance for workers who enroll in credit or noncredit courses and certificate programs, which enhance their knowledge and skills in areas related to aging. Selected programs can be either in local classroom settings or online. CLICK HERE for more information and apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
2022 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
In 2022, HPGS was able to give $2,500 to nine students in the field of gerontology, thanks to extra monies from a Hawaii Community Foundation grant.
HPGS was proud to award five students of gerontology with the Tony Lenzer Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship and a check for $2,500 each:
Melody Halzel, who is a PhD Student in the Public Health program at UH Mānoa, is a graduate assistant in the Center on Disability Studies. Her current research focus is on the design and implementation of accessible gardens for people with Dementia and their caregivers. As a public health professional, Melody will devote her career to ensure inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities and older adults in all aspects of society.
I am an undergraduate student at the Chaminade University of Honolulu aiming to become a physician in geriatric medicine. My interest in geriatric medicine stems from an appreciation for all that the kupuna have done for Hawaii’s community and a need to give back and advocate for the elderly community.
Michael Tong is pursuing a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies at UH Mānoa, aiming to serve as a physician and educator in Hawaii. He holds reverence for our kupuna and want to advocate to help them age gracefully in a vocation that can help uplift them and the wellbeing of their families.
Kai Wang, wrote: “Thank you so much for this scholarship. As a first-generation, international doctoral student studying abroad in the US, this HPGS scholarship motivates me to serve as a lifelong learning educator for older adults in the Asia Pacific region. Because I see the potential of this “golden-aged generation,” I want to contribute to the fi eld of aging with the scientific knowledge of human learning.
Kokoro Yamazaki is pursuing a B.S in Biology as a 2nd-year undergraduate student at UH Manoa. She has gained an interest in geriatrics after volunteer and clinical experiences back home on Maui, while being surrounded by the elder community growing up. Kokoro looks forward to new experiences and giving back to my community.
With the $25,000 grant from the Nakao & Mieko Yoshinaga Family Fund, a donor advised fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation, the HPGS Workforce Development Committee awarded $2,500 to four nursing students in Hawaii:
Bailey Laguna is from Mililani, and currently a junior in nursing school about to tackle a whole new world of venture. His grandparents are profound figures in his life that embodies everything that he hopes to be as a person. It is only instinctual that Bailey has a genuine career interest in nurturing the very population he owes it all to.
I was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii and am now attending nursing school at UH Manoa. I became interested in a career in aging after my clinical and work experiences with patients and my personal hopes that I could continue to help this population.
Kelson Oshiro was born and raised on the island of Kauai, and worked in healthcare in various administrative and clinical roles. His interest in the aging population started with his first job working for a primary care physician. Kelson saw how professional, passionate, empathetic, and knowledgeable he was towards his elderly patients and their families. This is something Kelson will carry on as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner.
Danielle Akiona, said: “I’m a Native Hawaiian with a desire to give back to my lāhui by caring for our kūpuna. Kūpuna hold a special place in my heart as they’re the ones who’ve paved the way for the next generations. I want to mālama kūpuna as a mahalo for all they’ve done.”
2021 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
In May 2022, I will receive my Master of Social Work degree with a specialization in Gerontology from UH Manoa. The HPGS scholarship was a tremendous help and financially assisted me in completing my degree. I recently joined Moiliili Community Center as the Director of the Senior Center and Kupuna Support Program. In this position I hope to provide opportunities for active and healthy aging, and work toward more inclusion of kupuna in our community.
Jamaica Laguna Manuel
I will be completing my first degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Health Care Administration in May 2022. I anticipate completing my second degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Long-Term Care in December 2022. I am currently working as a Nursing Aide at Hawaii Nursing Solutions, a home care agency. I look forward to establishing my own Home Care Agency in the near future to be able to help more elderly in the community, and to promote quality of care and services for them. Thank you once again for awarding me the Tony Lenzer Scholarship!
2020 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
KALA HUANG is a PhD student in the UH Manoa Public Health studies, expecting to graduate in 2024. She was excited that HPGS selected her as one of their scholarship recipients. She wrote: “I am the person who is interested in indigenous elderly care in Taiwan since the aging population is a big health issue everywhere, and my passion is to build an excellent, caring environment there. I am so thankful to HPGS because I am have financial issues caused by the Covid-19. It will support my living cost for the new semester and I can focus on learning new things. Also, this opportunity lights up my husband’s passion for gerontology; he also wants to be apart of the advocator in an aging society.”
A graduate student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice, Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Program this Fall, CHELSEA FUJITA says, ” The older adults of Hawaii have had a strong impact on me throughout my life, and it is my mission to give back to them. I intend to spend my career working diligently to advocate for the elderly population, exploring better ways to provide them with care, and by some day teaching gerontological nursing to hopefully inspire more people to get involved in caring for Hawaii’s kupuna. The financial assistance you provided me will be of great help in paying for my education expenses. I am extremely honored to receive the support of HPGS, whose mission is also mine, To improve the quality of life of Hawaii’s older adults.”
Hoping to graduate in May 2021 from the UH Manoa’s Masters of Social Work Advance Placement Program, TANI KAGESA wrote to HPGS: “Thank you for making it possible to finish my MSW degree and for helping me start on my social work career with less debt. I hope to support kupuna and their families during life transitions; to empower them to have quality of life in their golden years; to assist them in improving their physical and psychosocial well-being. I’m especially passionate about bridging the gaps in the continuum of care, ensuring quality mental healthcare for older adults, as well as transforming our services to be culturally humble and relevant. In the future, I hope to work on macro social work to make improvements in elder care services at the community level to positively impact more people.”
DANI WARING attends the UH West Oahu Bachelors of Arts in Public Administration-Long Term Care Program, looking to graduate in December 2021. She tells HPGS: “This scholarship allows me to pay for a fall course and subsequent study books so I don’t have to rely on my income to cover it. From my first jot at Hale Makua Health Services (Maui), I knew that I was where I wanted to work through the rest of my working years. I was fortunate to have great mentors throughout my years there who helped me narrow my focus and realize my goal of being a nursing administrator. I wasn’t too sure if it would be in the same role but the energy, commitment and pure care that so much of the staff had for their residents had me hooked. Thank you again for being a part of my achievement and I can only hope that I make my community and family proud.”
ERIC WOLFE, a 2020 Scholarship awardee, is now a registered nurse, employed at Kahala Nui, and is working toward becoming a gerontological nurse practitioner. As part of his graduate program, he will be conducting a project on decreasing caregiver burnout for those who work with patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Eric feels “the HPGS scholarship has supported me to pursue these goals and to better care for our Kupuna.”
2019 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
KAMAILE AIPA’s email after she heard she was one of the HPGS scholarship recipients read: “It is from the bottom of my heart which I say mahalo to Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society for considering my story, my passions, and my dreams in selecting me as one of this year’s scholarship recipients. I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this scholarship which will help to lift a financial burden from my shoulders and allow me to continue my education as I pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing as a Junior at Chaminade University. My passion and greatest inspiration to help the geriatric population stems from the strong loving relationship I have always had with my Grandma and Grandpa. I aspire to become the kind of nurse I would want for my grandparents; to be patient, compassionate, and to provide excellent patient education. My involvement at church and in the community continues to strengthen these desire and help me to improve every day. I aim to give back to a generation that has given to us for so long.”
UYANGA BATZOGS was born and raised in Mongolia. She is currently pursuing her PhD studies in Social Welfare and plans to develop new and better services for multi-generations, especially for older adults. She has lived in Hawaii while completing her MBA degree at Shidler School and worked for Waimanalo Health Center as the CFO for five years. She wrote in her email: “While running a business in Mongolia, I founded a non-profit, helping older adults to have a place to socialize in a senior center and assist them to get part time employment. However, sustainability is always a challenge due to funding issues. I love working with seniors and I currently volunteer and teach board games to older adults in Hawaii, at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UH. My husband and I have four children, aged from 7 to 19. My grandparents inspired me to study gerontology because they are leading active lives. Thank you very much for providing me the scholarship. This is great support for me to expand my knowledge in gerontology and follow my passion to be an active aging advocate.”
Mohammad Didar Hossa
I am from Bangladesh and currently a 3rd year PhD student at Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. As the focus of my program, I plan to collect data from older adults in rural Bangladesh to study their nature of productive aging and how their engagements in remaining productive shape their overall wellbeing. I am thankful to HPGS for the scholarship that I received back in 2019. It was a great support to start my Doctoral education. My professional background includes seven years of experience in teaching and researching as a Lecturer, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Gerontology and Social Studies, along with Assistant Program Manager (Research). During my time in Hawaii, I also worked for Alu Like Inc. as an Intern where I served the Native Hawaiian communities.
KEHAULANI ENGLE emailed HPGS the following: “Mahalo nui loa Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society for providing a scholarship to aid in my pursuit towards a Master’s degree in Social Work. I am a full-time student at the UH Manoa in the MSW program, a single mother of four, working part time in the gerontology field, and a volunteer with Project Dana. Gerontology has always been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents and remember going with my grandma to visit my great-grandma when she was in hospice regularly. Our kupuna are vital to our society and carry knowledge and experience with them that are invaluable. I love working with kupuna and look forward to a career in social work to further help this growing population.”
WHITNEY KIM emailed this response when she was told of her scholarship award: “I am beyond honored to be selected for this scholarship. Right now I am in the middle of working toward my Master’s of Social Work at UH Manoa, with a focus on gerontology, while working full time in affordable housing. Fighting for the rights and equitable treatment of all people is important; however, there’s something about making sure we care for our kupuna just as well as they cared for us that sparks my passion. I hold the utmost admiration for the social workers, medical experts, and caregivers that devote their lives to the safety and comfort of others. It is my hope that I will also be able to contribute in some way to the advocacy and direct care of our elderly and end-of-life patients here in Hawaii. I would like to thank the members of HPGS and the Center on Aging as well as my mentors and family for supporting me on this journey.”
2018 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
ANDREW ANGELES is a part-time graduate student at Hawaii Pacific University completing his final year in the Social Work program. He has learned that working with the geriatric population is a truly fulfilling experience because the knowledge gained through therapeutic interaction is priceless. Andrew truly wants to continue to improve the quality of life of our kūpuna in the near future.
KIMBERLY GAMALOG grew up with parents who are caregivers to the elderly, and seeing first hand how challenging it is, has inspired her to become an advocate for both the elderly and their caregivers. “To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.”
KARI KIMURA will be starting her third year in the nursing program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Gerontology has always been of interest to Kari, as she has grown up being very close with her grandpa and grandma. As an aspiring geriatric nurse, Kari hopes to give back to those who have been giving their entire life.
2017 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
LEILANI MAXERA, MPH, LCSW, recipient of an HPGS scholarship in 2017, went on to obtain her clinical license for social work (LCSW) in 2021. Her career has focused on advance care planning and end-of-life issues through work with Kokua Mau, Death Café Honolulu, and the Board of the National Home Funeral Alliance. This led her to start her own private practice, Kaipuokaualoku, LLC (kaipuokaualoku.com), where she offers community care and death doula work to all islands, plus individual harm reduction therapy and support groups with a focus on grief and bereavement. In updating HPGS on her current work, Leilani offered her gratitude and noted that her “HPGS scholarship was incredibly helpful” to her.
“I am currently working as a nurse practitioner hospitalist in Seattle, Washington. I treat adult and older adult patients that are hospitalized for various illnesses. I am grateful for the impact that I am making as a healthcare professional. Working in the last two years during the pandemic has been challenging, to say the least. I am reminded of the support I have received in the past and present, including the support I have received from organizations like HPGS. I hope that I will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients, particularly the geriatric population. They are the reason that I went into the healthcare field in the first place. ”
“Thank you for choosing me to be a recipient of the Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society’s scholarship this year. I have just begun my journey this fall in the healthcare field as a student in the Kapiolani Community College Nurse Aide Course. I am excited to work with the residents in a local hospital and be exposed to the opportunities available among our aging community. I plan to complete my Prometric Certification over winter break and obtain a Certified Nurse Aide position. This will allow me to expand my experience and identify the area of study I’d like to focus my career on. This scholarship will help me achieve this goal by allowing me to focus on my studies, rather than my tuition. With my background in hospitality, customer service, and prosthesis, I hope to immerse myself in school and work towards my degree in the healthcare field. Thank you again for this opportunity.”
““As the recipient of the Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the tremendous support that you have provided me through this scholarship. I am so humbled to have been chosen for this award knowing that there were many qualified applicants. Your generosity will allow me to pursue my dreams and no words can’t express how thankful I am. I have recently been accepted into the long term nurse aide program at Kapiolani Community College which begins in January, 2018. I am very determined to work hard in fulfilling my lifetime goal and career in taking care of those who are in need. This award I have obtained allows me to concentrate more on my academic studies without worrying to much about my financial burden. I look forward to successfully completing my academic year and continuing my education in my nursing career. Once again, thank you so much to HPGS from the bottom of my heart for their generosity and support.”
2016 HPGS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
PHOEBE HWANG Since graduating with my DrPH in 2017, I started a health research consulting company, Omniworks. Through my work as a research consultant, I was able to work with many organizations and projects across the state such as Kahua Pa’a Mua, Pacific Survivor Center, MALAMA Aquaponics, DOH Center of Disease Prevention, DOH Falls Prevention Consortium, American Lung Association, USDA, Kokua Kalihi Valley, and more. Recently, I took up a position with the Department of Psychiatry at Queen’s Medical Center and JABSOM as the Director of Quality Improvement Research and Scholarship. Still very grateful for HPGS’s scholarship!
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the generous scholarship you haven given me. I feel so fortunate to have been selected as a recipient of this honor. Your generosity will allow me to pursue my dreams, and for that, I cannot thank you enough. Chaminade University has strengthened my skills and knowledge and provided me with the education I need to succeed in my nursing profession. I am dedicated, highly skilled at what I do, and work effectively and efficiently in collaboration with my colleagues. I have set for myself in earning a Bachelor degree in Nursing by May 2017 and obtaining a position where I can be a positive influence on others. By awarding me with the HPGS Scholarship, you have enlighten my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school: learning. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goal just as you have helped me.”
“I am currently working as a nurse practitioner hospitalist in Seattle, Washington. I treat adult and older adult patients that are hospitalized for various illnesses. I am grateful for the impact that I am making as a healthcare professional. Working in the last two years during the pandemic has been challenging, to say the least. I am reminded of the support I have received in the past and present, including the support I have received from organizations like HPGS. I hope that I will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients, particularly the geriatric population. They are the reason that I went into the healthcare field in the first place.”