MEd in Curriculum Studies (PACMED)

John Villiarimo

“The PACMED program really allowed me to understand how to develop a place-based curriculum that is meaningful for the students I work with.”


Hāna, Maui


Curriculum Studies

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Curriculum Studies: PACMED

Where do you live?
I live on Molokai, where my wife is from, with my ʻohana.

Where do you work?
I have been with UH Maui College as the program coordinator for Ka Hikina O Ka Lā here on Molokai for the past six and half years. We are a scholarship program that supports Maui Nui students who are pursuing a STEM and/or Hawaiian Studies degree at any level. My responsibility is to advise and provide wrap-around service to our scholars, particularly the students who come from Molokai. I also support early admit students who enroll in either a STEM or HWST class out of the UHMC Molokai Education Center.

Another program that we support is our Mānaiakalani scholarship program. This program follows the 13th-year initiative in supporting students who are least likely to attend college. Another kuleana (responsibility) I have is to help develop curriculum and programs that utilizes the Kaʻao Framework as the basis in order to encourage a successful completion rate among our scholars.

How did you become interested in the PACMED program?
I was first interested in any master in an education program that I could do completely online from Molokai. I was initially going to apply for the MEdT program, but couldn’t commit to the student-teaching portion at that time. A friend of mine told me about the PACMED program, and after hearing more about it, I knew it would be a great fit because I love creating programs and curriculum that is place-based and centered in Hawaiian culture and history.

How has the PACMED program helped you along in your career?
The PACMED program really allowed me to understand how to develop a place-based curriculum that is meaningful for the students I work with. The PACMED program provided me the tools to create this curriculum and gave me the confidence in doing so.

Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you along your education journey?
My biggest inspirations along my educational journey are my parents – my father, who for the last 30+ years worked tirelessly as an industry chef, and my mother, a secondary teacher, who after retiring decided to pursue a degree in history and will be getting her second masterʻs degree in a year. Another inspiration along my educational journey is my wife who went out and got her Masterʻs in Social Work while being pregnant with our first child.

How have you been coping with school/work during the pandemic?
The pandemic has definitely put a wrench in the way we do things. Fortunately, through the PACMED program, we learned a great deal on WEB 2.0 tools and through that particular class, I was able to implement those tools to provide a meaningful curriculum for our scholars. We miss being able to create pilina (connection) with our scholars face-to-face, but we have been able to pivot and still provide these experiences for our scholars. Zoom fatigue is real, and we hope that we can go back to more in-person learning soon. It is important to step back, take a breather, so that you can continue to attack the tasks at hand.

What are your future plans?
Iʻm not exactly sure what the future holds, but I know that with this degree, opportunities will always be available to me.

Anything else you would like to include?
A great big MAHALO NUI LOA to both Dr. Paul Deering and Dr. Deborah Zuercher as well as the other instructors for their ʻike (wisdom), encouragement, and dedication to each of us so that we can be the best change agents possible.


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