Honorees and years of service award winners recognized at Ho'omaika'i employee appreciation night

Written by: 
Dani Castro & Savanna Bachelder

Hand-held fans glued to Popsicle sticks were handed to BYU-Hawaii faculty and family of faculty at the Ho‘omaika‘i Employee Appreciation Night on Jan. 25 due to the broken air conditioning in the Cannon Activities Center where the event was held.


The event honored faculty and staff for their years of service, and distributed the V. Napua Baker Management Awards, the President’s Appreciation Awards, the Sione H.M. Feinga Performance Awards and the Faculty Awards.


“This has been an incredible journey, and I’m looking forward to a number of more years,” said Wes Duke, the senior accounting manager of financial services and 30-year honoree. “These events are nice, just to reconnect with employees that you’ve known, or haven’t had the chance to on a regular basis. This is fun to celebrate.”


Marilu Lee, the dining facility manager for Food Services, said, “I always attend every year because we cater for them. I commend [those who have been] here 35 years … and their service. We love working here.”


Lee went on to talk about her favorite aspects of the event. “I love the decorations, and I love the way we got to the dinner quickly so we could dance and enjoy the night.”


The cover band Hawaii Soul played after the awards were distributed, giving patrons the chance to dance and celebrate their achievement and the achievement of their colleagues.


Daniel Henderson, an assistant professor of Music, said, “I love that feast. It’s my second year being here. A good buffet with everyone else is cool, and I loved seeing [those] who got awards. It gives me something to aspire to, and it makes me admire this community more. There are a lot of remarkable people here, and that just shines a light on a few of them, and learning about them.


“Dancing was great. I love dancing, I actually wish that more people would dance,” he said.


Henderson continued, “Music and dance is essential to every celebration. To get together, move your bodies in rhythm, smiling, full of good food. Music, dance, food and community. Ohana. That’s a celebration to me.”


The 35-year honorees, Marynelle Chew, Anna Kaanga, David Porter and Earl Wyman, were each featured in a video where they discuss the lessons they learned and the spirit they’ve seen at BYUH. Chew, the head of Library Access and Collection Services, shared how much she values diversity.


“I’m from Chicago. I grew up in the ‘60s. Chicago was a very black and white city and there is still a lot of racial tension. So, working here has helped me stop seeing people’s color or race. I just see people.”


Kaanga, an administrative assistant for the Religion Department, said, “There are so many wonderful students and people who have come and gone on campus and they’ve impacted my life and in so doing impacted my family I hope. We’ve made lasting eternal friendships that will carry on to the other side.”


Porter, the chairman of the Exercise Science Department, talked about the spiritual mission of the school. “I really believe that the purpose is not just to give an education with a piece of paper and an opportunity for employment, but to help them understand how to live the gospel, how to teach the gospel, how to be leaders of the gospel in their home countries.”


Wyman, an assistant professor of TESOL, said being at BYUH has enhanced his life. “Working at BYUH has been a blessing because for 36 years I’ve felt like I’ve been on vacation, and the people I work with, the students and my colleagues and the whole community of Laie, and just the beauty of Hawaii, has just made life very enjoyable.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Last Edited: 
Saturday, March 10, 2018

NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the March 2018 print issue.