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Celebrating Rowena Reid's 27 years at BYUH

Reid ran the Alumni program, became a psychology professor, and in retirement, says she will continue to support the university

Reid poses for a portrait at her retirement party.

After 27 years of teaching, Rowena Reid is retiring from teaching at BYU–Hawaii. On Dec. 2, Reid’s relatives, students and other faculty members gathered outside the Psychology Office to celebrate her time serving at BYUH.

In her brief opening speech, Reid, an associate professor in the Faculty of Sciences, said she didn’t want to celebrate her retirement and doesn’t care for recognition. However, she said her family always reminds her that what she does is a talent and a blessing.

Reid shared she had originally served as director of Alumni before being asked to join the Psychology Department. She was thrilled to be in that department because she always dreamt of becoming a psychologist or a psychiatrist, she added.

Keleise Reid, Reid’s oldest daughter, said family events had to be planned around her schedule, when she was working as director of Alumni, she said. She helped build up the Alumni Program, opened Chapter Chairs throughout the world, and organized banquets and firesides, shared her daughter.

Keleise Reid said her family would help her mother in coordinating the events. Once she started teaching, she wasn’t as busy, she added.

Jess Kohlert, an associate professor in the Faculty of Sciences, said she was kind and not complacent in times of difficulty. In the early mornings, he said he would pass Reid, who swam at the school’s pool every morning, and was impressed by her determination to take care of herself.

Kolhert said meeting Rowena helped him to understand her Samoan culture, which he didn’t know anything about. “It broadened my view, and as a consequence, enlarged my heart … I always felt accepted by her.”

It’s bittersweet to see her mother retire because BYUH has been a big part of their family’s life, said Keleise Reid. For her mother, she said it wasn’t just a work matter, but she connected with students and staff members outside of work. “It’s going to be an adjustment for her, and she’s really going to miss it … She’s a very sentimental person.”

Lisa Kawagoe, a sophomore social work major from Miyazaki, Japan, said Reid really loves and cares for her students. Being from Japan, she said it’s hard for her to understand English and Rowena Reid was always willing to help her.

Kawagoe said he had Rowena Reid for both educational psychology and women’s psychology classes during the Winter 2022 Semester. She said she is going to miss seeing her all the time.

With her mother retiring, it’s a welcome change for her family, Keleise Reid shared. She said her family has been wanting her to retire soon, as she’s busy with other responsibilities and family matters.

At the end of her speech, Rowena Reid said, “I will continue to work and support BYU–Hawaii with anything that you folks need.”