Monday | September 25, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Palamanui-sponsored event offers direction, empowerment to local women

Updated: 
June 25, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — More than 50 women convened Saturday morning at Hawaii Community College-Palamanui to contemplate their own unique evolution.

The event, dubbed “Women in Transition: Moving Forward,” was headed up by Carrie Kuwada Phipps, education specialist at Palamanui. She said the program was resurrected after being discontinued in the early 2000s as both a resource and recruitment tool for women who ranged in age from 16-69.

Those who attended were offered breakout sessions delving into topics like entrepreneurship, career exploration and healthy living practices.

“It’s life as well as education, career opportunities and (the concept) of how do I take where I am and move forward?” she said. “Our chancellor believes education is a way to get people out of working poverty … but what I’m most surprised by is there are a lot of women already in careers, accomplished, and they’re here.”

One such guest was keynote speaker Malani Papa DeAguiar, an educator at Kamehameha Schools. Her message to women reflected the difficulties she’s faced in her own life, from abuse as a child to raising a young daughter alone after her husband passed away from cancer.

She discussed independence, but in the context of also being willing to accept help, especially for those women managing professional goals along with being the sole provider and parent among their families.

It’s something that isn’t always easy, she explained, as inequities still abound between men and women not only in Hawaii, but across the country and the world. One such inequity is the pay gap between the sexes, while another is the persistence of traditional expectations of how a woman should spend her time and talents.

“In old Hawaii … women raised the children, collected things, they made the clothing,” DeAguiar said. “I think in today’s world, that’s changing a little bit. My husband was so encouraging when I got my master’s degree, but I think some men are still a little bit intimidated when their wife starts getting degrees and becoming more educated than them. It turns into a challenge.”

DeAguiar’s daughter Anela, 20, attends college in San Diego where she’s studying to become a child psychologist. She was back on island Saturday and accompanied her mother to the event.

“Growing up in such an empowering household, especially since it was just my mom and I, I never felt less than a man or that I couldn’t do as much,” Anela said. “But I think going to college and seeing how different people are treated differently really opened my eyes to see how unfair it could be, especially for a darker woman.”

Andi Pawasarat-Losalio, who works with Bridge House Hawaii, which focuses on sober living for recovering addicts, thought it was important not only to attend herself but to bring graduates from the program into the fold as well.

She explained such women define in a meaningful way the transitional theme of the event and talked about its value as applied to crucial steps toward recovery after initially overcoming a chemical dependence.

“It’s about fixing your health, having support, taking care of yourself, learning you have purpose in your life — those are the real things that keep people clean,” Pawasarat-Losalio said. “It’s getting that inner caring and love for yourself to know you’re OK and you can be a part of this community and be accepted.”

Cassandra Ellis, a graduate of Bridge House, said the morning was a great way to network with more positive influences as a woman hoping to “transition to a more positive lifestyle.”

Alicia Brunette, another graduate of the program, talked about some of the specific guidance the event offered, something previously absent from her life.

And, after all, the primary goal of the day was to provide nuanced advice to guide each individual woman toward the next step in her personal evolution, whatever that step may be.

“I liked the entrepreneurship class,” Brunette said. “I’ve thought about in the past starting up my own thing and having no clue even how to go about it. The instructor was great helping us with direction on where to start.”

Rules for posting comments