BEd in Secondary Alumna

Arlene Colis

“I strongly believe that studying other languages/cultures teaches individuals how to be more compassionate, smarter, and well-rounded.”


Pearl City, HI


School of Teacher Education - Secondary

What have you been doing post-graduation?
During the 2020–2021 school year, I worked abroad in Bordeaux, France as an English assistant in a high school and a middle school. Now, I am back home in Hawaiʻi and working at a non-profit organization called Kupu.

Where do you work?
As an Environmental Education Leader, I work with two different high schools on O‘ahu to support their Natural Resources career pathways by coordinating Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities, place-based education, and career awareness. I split my time between my alma mater (Pearl City HS), Kapolei HS, and doing office hours near Kewalo Basin.

How did you become interested in education?
My parents didn’t have much when I was growing up, so school was always the place where I could develop through different experiences and opportunities. I hope to do the same with my students. Moreover, as a high schooler, I initially thought of becoming a math teacher because it was one of my favorite subjects, and I liked helping my classmates better understand concepts they were struggling with. After starting college at UH Mānoa, I discovered a deeper passion for language learning and the cultures behind them, so I decided to specialize in teaching French. My “French journey” actually started in high school when I traveled to France and Switzerland with my class. I loved it so much that I have traveled to France five times already!

Is there anyone who inspires/ or inspired you to become a teacher?
I can’t thank my teacher, Madame Smith, enough for encouraging me to succeed and go into this teaching pathway. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Angsuco, was the first to inspire me, but I’m constantly inspired by all my colleagues, former COE classmates, and everyone I come across in the field!

What are your future vision and goals?
My two biggest passions are world language/culture and the environment. I would love to eventually see these two departments grow into curriculum that is essential in schools across the state and even across the country. I strongly believe that studying other languages/cultures teaches individuals how to be more compassionate, smarter, and well-rounded. There’s also no better feeling than successfully holding down a conversation with a native speaker, getting your order right at a café, or just being able to navigate your next adventure abroad!

What are three fun facts?
1. Before teaching, I thought about becoming a pediatrician or real estate agent.
2. If I could have a superpower, it’d be teleportation!
3. My favorite food is anything with noodles, specifically a good bowl of stir-fry with udon.

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