Author’s note: Post published with Rona’s blessings. You can view the 2021 Husky 100 on their WordPress site: https://www.washington.edu/husky100/
What’s up everybody, it’s dǰ pišpiš. Sit down folks, because we’re going to have a tender moment. Right here, besides the fireplace drinking knock-off Coca-Cola and playing craps in the ways we know how. I told many stories about my youth, from getting ‘ava at a fool’s shop along the H-1 motorway in O’ahu, to busting my own **** during high school Spanish class in the boys bathroom. It’s times when we share in the humor, seriousness, and sometimes thought-provoking moments I appreciate the relationships and sense of community that come from our interactions. In this post, I want to tell a different story, one that showcases the spirit of family and resilience in a challenging educational environment.
Today, University of Washington community members and the public learn Pacific Islander Research Family facilitator and Burke Museum intern, Ronalei Gasetoto, has secured a spot in the 2021 Husky 100 cohort. When word got out, I needed to leap and scream with joy. In spite of what was arguably the most emotional and politically fraught academic year in many generations, Husky 100 recognizes yet again the long tradition of excellence PI Research Family is known for. I’m going to explain briefly why I think Rona earned the Husky 100 award and how her work in Research Family has touched me and many of our colleagues deeply.
You may know Rona because of her role in the Research Family legislative advocacy group which in part resulted in policies that gave healthcare access for Marshallese communities living in the U.S. During the coronavirus pandemic, Rona has continually adapted Research Family to the needs of UW Pacific Islander students by creating weekly study and check-in sessions. I and fellow Research Family colleagues appreciate the care Rona took in cultivating a community that centers respect, reciprocity, and family. At a time when the pandemic shuffled long standing resources for UW students, Pacific Islander students continue to count on a space where they are welcomed to bring their whole selves without the stressors of a eurocentric education system.
Rona also demonstrates a strong embodiment of and commitment to public scholarship that centers the voices of Pacific Islander communities. Pre-pandemic, Rona also regularly invites Pacific Islander scholars and community leaders across the country to broaden the academic perspectives of her Research Family peers. Her insistence on collaboration and community-centered learning inspires her Indigenous colleagues at the Burke Museum. Such Indigenous colleagues have created their own Research Family cohorts based on the values and methodologies of the Pacific Islander Research Family.
I am absolutely thrilled Rona joins the ranks of many Pacific Islander Husky 100 students across the UW campus who embody the strengths of community and inspires generations of Pacific Islander students before her. Please join me in congratulating Rona!
That’s it. See you.