Wearing leis piled up to her ears, Academics Executive Assistant Irene Lesuma was recognized for her 29 years of service at the University working for four academic vice presidents and with the campus ohana. At her retirement celebration on March 29, people shared their aloha for her and presented her with gifts.
On both ends of the room were tables filled with food and treats. In the center of the room was an about 2-foot-high and 2-foot-wide wooden, round bowl filled with individually packaged chocolate candies as a tribute to Lesuma’s never-empty office candy dish.
At the event, BYU–Hawaii Institutional Research & Assessment Manager Kathy Pulotu said she was a frequent benefactor of Lesuma’s office treats, especially when she got a little hungry at work just around the corner and down the hall from Lesuma’s office in the Lorenzo Snow Building.
“I love you all,” said Lesuma to the crowd in the Aloha Center as they shared memories and enjoyed food.
Pulotu called Lesuma a woman warrior on campus and presented her with a carved and highly polished Polynesian wooden warrior club. Pulotu said whenever she or anyone made a mistake, they could go to Lesuma and she would know what to do and where to go to make things right. “You will be missed,” Pulotu said.
Additionally, Associate Academic Vice President Rose Ram called up Lesuma to give her two retirement gifts from the Dean’s Council. One was a Tahitian pearl necklace to match a pair of earrings Lesuma has and the other was a painting of Jesus Christ feeding his sheep.
Ram said Lesuma has been an example of Christlike love and service to others over the almost three decades she has worked on campus.
Ho’okahua Campus Life Business Manager Ualani Mo’o arranged for students of the Fiji Club to perform for Lesuma at her retirement celebration. Lesuma and her husband, Meli, who is also a BYUH retiree, spent five years living in Meli’s home country when he worked there for the Church. Two Fiji Club female students danced a hula and then a group of students sang a Fijian song that members of the audience knew and joined in singing with them.
Towards the end of the event, members of the campus ohana performed the “Hiki Mai” chant lead by Alohalani Housman, associate professor in the Faculty of Culture, Language & Performing Arts. That was followed up by the whole group singing “Aloha Oe” to Irene Lesuma and then finishing up with everyone joining hands and singing “Hawaii Aloha.”
Lesuma was treated to a final tour of campus riding in an electric cart decorated with flowers and greenery, a big “Aloha Oe” sign on top of it and a sign on the front that read, “Happy Retirement Irene Lesuma.”
The Lesumas said they plan on staying in Hawaii for now but are hoping to serve a mission in the future. Irene Lesuma said she plans on helping out in the Sewing Center on campus so people can go by there to talk story with her.