Ciera ʻIhilani Lasconia, a College of Education Department of Educational Administration (EDEA) student, is the 2020 Region VI National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Rising Star. The award is presented to an undergraduate student for their academic achievement, involvement, and potential in the student affairs profession. Lasconia was presented the award during a prerecorded virtual Awards Ceremony on November 10, 2020.
“I am incredibly grateful for this award, and I am even more grateful to those who have invested their time and energy in me so that receiving this award was a reality,” Lasconia said. “The Ed Admin program has been foundational in my higher education path and career goals.”
As a member of the inaugural Bachelor’s and Master’s (BAM) program with EDEA and the Department of Ethnic Studies, Lasconia will graduate with a bachelor’s in Ethnic Studies in the spring of 2021 and earn her master’s degree in the spring of 2022. She says she has seen how hard her mother and sister have worked as preschool teachers to adapt and keep students engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she hopes to learn how to better equip teachers and support students to succeed in any environment.
Christine Quemuel, NASPA Region VI Awards Chair and Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity, said, “ʻIhilani is amazing. She is a Kanaka Maoli student, artist, and organizer from Waimānalo, Hawai‘i. She is a proud first-generation college student, a NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program member, and a member of Kia‘i Ke Kahaukani student group for the protection of Maunakea. This award is a very well-deserved recognition.”
Lasconia, who has worked for Student Housing Services as a resident assistant for the past three years, has been largely influenced by seminars on indigenous politics. Her thesis incorporates a series of oral histories which aim to document the lives and experiences of kia‘i (protectors) of Maunakea.
“Through the course of my master’s program in Ed Admin, what I hope to do is connect theories and pedagogies in indigenous politics and apply them to the work I am doing. The intention of this is to envision and co-create what a Hawaiian Place of Learning can and should be for the University of Hawai‘i.”
EDEA Associate Professor Kahunawai Wright said, “ʻIhilani is such a great person and student. Even as a first semester student, she already has me looking forward to her future accomplishments in our field. We’re so fortunate to have such a thoughtful, creative, and visionary wahine as part of our program and our college.”