Month: April 2014

Mission of Mercy

Aloha Medical Mission

My colleague Deborah Manog and I were fortunate enough to go to Tuguegarao, Philippines during our Spring Semester- thanks to scholarship provided by the UH-Manoa Journalism Department- and documented the Hawaii-based non-profit organization, Aloha Medical Mission. We spent a week documenting surgeries, medical consultations, and even a live-birth! Truly testing our abilities as journalists.


Art can be a job

Art Job

***Originally published in KaLeo Newspaper****

Bobby Bergonio, Staff Writer

Designers and artists entering the job market face a daunting task, but the Iwilei Creative Program strives to be the big break that these students need. This free three-month program is a creative incubator for designers to meet and build relations with professionals in the business.

Graphic designers Matt Heim, Scott Kawamura and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumnus James Charisma have collaborated on this project to help artists gain experience and knowledge of the industry. Sumner LLC, in association with HonBlue and Electric Pencil, will allot a portion of their Nimitz facility to house the incubator and allow students a conference room, individual workspaces and a creative bullpen.

“We wanted design students to hone their own skills and meet local industry contacts, which can be potential clients and potential employers,” Charisma said.


The Iwilei Creative Program will accept four to eight students to participate in weekly workshops and collaborate with designers, writers and photographers in order to develop their talents in marketable ways. Not only will they utilize their artistic skills, but the students will also learn many business concepts – from budgets to cost projections – to be mindful of the costs and profits of the creative industry.

“A lot of time, people have experience in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Suite, but they don’t necessarily have experience working with a budget or working on a timeline and turning the creative process into a marketable business,” Charisma explained.

Graduates of the program will not only gain valuable work experience and certification, but also a network of professional contacts – experts who may be able to provide direction and employment.


Designers will also help launch “Abstract,” a local arts and culture magazine aimed toward 18-35-year-old college students and post-graduates. According to Charisma, “Abstract” will mainly focus on the “ever-changing contemporary urban landscape of Hawai‘i.”

Students of the program will be in charge of its production from start to finish, creating content, developing layouts, choosing fonts and adjusting colors. They will experience the trials and triumphs that designers, writers or photographers face as they bring the magazine to publication.

A launch party for “Abstract” will be held in March and give students a chance to network with potential clients, associates and future employers while gaining sponsorship for the publication to self-sustain in the future.

“The magazine really is just a pride that comes out of it,” Charisma said. “The main thing is to create an incubator to help educate the next new generations of design students.”

For more information on the program, contact Charisma at


Ian O’Sullivan giving back to where he was born and raised


***Originally Published in KaLeo Newspaper***

Bobby Bergonio, Staff Writer

From playing by ear in the hallways of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to performing at Carnegie Hall in New York, Ian O’Sullivan, lecturer in guitar at UH, has come a long way from his humble beginnings in music.

O’Sullivan became the first person from Hawai‘i to graduate with a masters in guitar from Yale University in 2011, but his journey has come full circle – he returned to give back by teaching guitar, forwarding the guitar program and paying tribute to Hawaiian musicians.


After graduating, O’Sullivan worked on his debut album, a collection of slack key and classical guitar compositions entitled “Born and Raised,” noting his Hawaiian origins.

The album, completely fundraised by Kickstarter, features works from composers like Byron Yasui, Michael Foumai and Darin Au, as well as O’Sullivan’s own original compositions. O’Sullivan hopes to use a portion of the proceeds from this album toward a new program that he is introducing to the music department.


O’Sullivan believes that the ability to perform is essential in any classical musician. Much of his success is due to graduate classes that he took throughout the summer with guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery in Maui. Graduate courses are performance based and encourage students to play religiously in front of a crowd.

“I had a student play in one of my master classes, and he immediately went back to his seat when he was done. I was like, ‘No dude, you’re not done yet – this is a master’s class,’” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan noted the lack of emphasis on performance in music classes at UH. “Besides having one rep lab in the middle of the semester, where [students] have to play for a couple of students, and an exam at the end of the semester, where they sit in front of a couple of judges, some may only have performed twice in their life.”

This is the main reason for his fundraising efforts. Having workshops available for student musicians is what O’Sullivan believes will make them better artists.

“Everything I learned about guitar when I was doing my degree at UH, I got sort of outside of UH,” O’Sullivan said. “I would meet and study with Byron Yasui, who was a composition professor at UH, and ask to perform for different places.”


Yasui, O’Sullivan explained, “was a big component in the guitar program but wasn’t able to get it running.”

O’Sullivan, who does volunteer studio classes with his students for two to three hours every week, hopes to eventually expand UH’s program by being able to “offer courses in guitar history and ensemble. It’s important that [students] play in a group and as soloists.”

To raise funds for these new programs, O’Sullivan will be holding a concert in February, which will feature his own compositions as well as works by Bach, Villa Lobos, Prokofiev, Jeff Peterson and Yasui.

“Honolulu Guitar Quartet, which I put together, will also be having their debut performance,” he said.

The concert will be held Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Orvis Auditorium, with tickets starting at $8. Tickets to see O’Sullivan’s show may be purchased by calling 95-MUSIC (808-956-8742), or at the door.


Acosta: From ruling robotics to pageant queen


***Originally published in Kaleo Newspaper***

Bobby Bergonio, Contributing Writer

On October 21, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa senior Brianna Acosta was named the winner of the Miss Hawai‘i USA 2013 pageant, but there’s more to her than the crown reveals. Acosta isn’t like most pageant winners (or most women, for that matter): Not many can admit to skinning a deer in their lifetime.

Just a few months before the pageant, Acosta dumped the evening gown to go through the Hō‘ea Initiative on Moloka‘i, a “survival-training program” that emphasizes a understanding and appreciation of practices of Native Hawaiian culture.

“It’s like this program using Native Hawaiian practices, and I didn’t shoot the deer, but I got to skin it,” said Acosta. “It was empowering.”

Acosta has always been the type who isn’t afraid of trying new things. Her hula dancing hobby and modeling work may seem typical of a beauty pageant contestant, but some of her other interests may not.


The ambitious 21-year-old from Waialua has tried her hand at everything, from soccer to robotics, while also excelling in academics. In her interview during the Miss Hawai‘i USA competition, Acosta touched upon what she finds amazing about Hawai‘i’s educational programs, and how it relates to her personal unique qualities.

“We do have somewhat of a stigma in having a low education system, however you’ll also be surprised to know that we have a world championship robotics team on the North Shoreof O‘ahu, in the town of Waialua,” she said. “My unique quality is that not only do I believe that I am confident, but I take pride in that I am a nerd. And I am confident to stand up here and say that I am a smart young woman, as well as a confident one.”

In addition to being part of Waialua Robotics in high school, Acosta was named her class valedictorian, president of her class and the National Honor Society, and news editor – just a few of her academic achievements.


While maintaining her honors at Waialua High School, Acosta competed in the Miss Hawai‘i Teen USA pageant from 2008-2010. She placed fourth runner-up her first year and first runner-up the following two.

After years of competing in the teen pageants, Acosta decided she would compete in the Miss Hawai‘i USA pageant only once, and by doing so, would make immense preparations for it.

From traveling to Pageant Ready University (a weekend seminar workshop in Florida) to attending the Miss USA 2012 pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., Acosta was determined to make her first and last Miss Hawai‘i appearance nothing but her best.

“I wanted to run because I knew I could I have done better [each year],” Acosta shared.

But even with all the preparations and her confident attitude, Acosta admits that she was still doubtful of winning.

While standing next to competitor Marissa Petsas when it came down to the final two, Acosta was ready to accept falling just short of the title. “[Petsas was first-runner up last year and] I thought they were going to give it to her,” said Acosta. “I was already prepared to be first runner-up.”

Acosta recalls nearly falling to her knees from the shock of her victory. Crying tears of joy, she got herself up and embraced Petsas in a crowning that was all too surreal.

“I was such a dork,” Acosta expressed, contrary to her normally confident image, “thought I was going to be all confident, but I ended up crying.” Acosta will compete in the Miss USA 2013 pageant next June. But before that is another achievement: She’ll be graduating with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science in spring.