Niki Libarios

In honor of Filipino American History Month in October, the Tinalak Filipino Education Council of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) announced the 2021-2022 recipients of the Dr. Niki Libarios #BeKindToAStudent Scholarship. Tiffany Banggo, Shannon Cristobal, Phillippe Fernandez-Brennan, Justine Jumalon, and Desiree Joi Mateo were each awarded funds, ranging from $500 to $1,000, to assist with school-related costs.

“We are so proud of this yearʻs scholarship recipients!” said Associate Professor Nicole Alia Salis Reyes who serves as co-chair of Tinalak. “As current and future educators, they will make sure that Dr. Libariosʻ legacy lives on, affecting positive change among our Filipino youth and communities in Hawaiʻi.”

The #BeKindToAStudent scholarship was established to honor the memory, professional work, and research of the late Libarios, one of the co-founders of Tinalak and former director of the COE Office of Student Academic Services. The scholarship highlights the motto Libarios lived by in his work as an academic advisor and scholar-practitioner and is intended for undergraduate or graduate students who are committed to serving the Filipino community.

“To be a recipient of this award means to continue Dr. Libarios’ legacy of educating students with love, compassion, and kindness,” said Banggo who is earning her BEd in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education. “It is an honor to receive this award knowing that he touched hearts and changed lives as he served his community. As an aspiring educator, my hope is to go beyond the curriculum and inspire young learners to be kind to one another no matter their circumstances.”

Tinalak was established in 2012 to address the under-representation of Filipinos in the field of education and to contribute to hand-woven natural cloth designed by the T´boli people of the Philippinesthe COE’s mission of preparing professionals to contribute to a just, diverse, and democratic society. It is named after the natural cloth designed and woven from the dreams of the Indigenous T’boli people of the Philippines.

“Our vision is to act as dream weavers who inspire and weave together Hawaiʻi’s new generation of educators through the recruitment and support of Filipinos in education,” explained Curriculum Studies Chair Patricia Halagao who is a co-founder of Tinalak.

Cristobal, a doctoral student in Educational Foundations, said, “I am so grateful to be a part of the legacy that Dr. Libarios worked so hard to build for the Filipino community. This award means that I have a responsibility to pay it forward to be instrumental like the many teachers, educators, mentors, and ancestors that have guided me in my life and my academic journey to get to the point where I am today.”

Libarios believed in the importance of paying it forward and serving the Filipino community. In addition to the scholarship, recipients are encouraged to participate in the 2021 Pamantasan Conference, which is being organized by Honolulu Community College and will be held virtually from October 28–29.

“I am honored to have been selected as a recipient of the Dr. Niki Libarios award,” said Fernandez-Brennan, a Curriculum Studies doctoral student. “Dr. Libarios was my academic advisor when I entered the COE and was transitioning from a seven-year career as a civil and environmental engineer into education. He instilled in me a responsibility to inspire other Filipino educators, and I will work to continue his legacy through my research that is made possible with this award.”

Justine Jumalon, a BEd in Elementary Education student, stated, “At the core, I am a first-generation Filipino American college student. Receiving this honor is a testament to my mom and dad for enduring hardships in order to provide a better life for their children. This award reminds me of who I am and how I got to this place in my life. I aspire to be successful so that I can have a good future and show my parents that their sacrifices paid off.”

Donations to support Tinalak’s mission to inspire a new generation of educators can be made to the #BeKindToAStudentScholarship.

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