The College of Education (COE) is proud to have three out of four University of Hawaiʻi alumni named 2014 Distinguished Alumni by the University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association (UHAA). Emme Tomimbang, Rick Blangiardi, and Claire Asam were among four honorees, which included Asam’s husband, UH Foundation Board Chair J. Kuhio Asam. They will be honored May 7, 2014 at the Sheraton Waikīkī Hotel.
Tomimbang, who earned her bachelor of education degree from the COE, has more than 36 years of radio and television experience. She attributes the success of her high profile career to education. “My life in education was such a fulfilling experience and journey. I felt like my background in teaching gave me tools for television. I was teaching cultural values, island values, local things on TV–my classroom was just slightly bigger.”
After working as a teacher and counselor at Waiʻanae Intermediate for a year, Tomimbang was preparing to return to her alma mater, Farrington High School, as a counselor. Instead, her father called on her to help him and friends start a Filipino radio station. For the next two years, she was on KISA morning radio, which is how she was discovered by sportscaster, Don Robbs. “Thus began my path in media, and the rest is history,” she added. The recipient of numerous civic and media awards, Tomimbang is well known for shows, such as Emme’s Island Moments, Emme’s Island Living, and Emme and Friends.
Blangiardi, general manager of Hawaiʻi News Now (KGMB and KHNL), earned his master of education degree from the COE. An executive in the television industry for more than 37 years, he is credited with rebranding KHNL and leading it to a “National Champ of Local Sports Broadcasting” title within six years. In 2011, he was recognized as Salesperson of the Year by the Honolulu chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI). He is also well known for his role as former Rainbow Warrior defensive coordinator/associate head football coach.
Asam, who was appointed trustee of the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust in 2007, earned a master of education degree from the COE. Before her appointment to the trust, she served as president and executive director of the Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Center (QLCC). She is also vice president and executive director of SchoolRise, Hawaiʻi Division, which is a school improvement company providing educational services to public and private schools. She serves on the boards of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association (HMSA), and on the advisory council for the UH Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.
Since 1987, UHAA has been bestowing the distinguished alumni award upon those who have used their UH education to excel professionally, provide inspirational leadership to others, and provide service for the benefit of UH and the community.