UH-Hilo to confer first master's in Hawaiian
By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawai'i Hiapo Perreira of O'ahu will become the first person to graduate from the University of Hawai'i-Hilo with a master's degree in Hawaiian language and literature.
Perreira and others will receive undergraduate or graduate degrees during commencement at 9 a.m. on May 18 at the UHH Athletics Complex.
An assistant professor in Hawaiian language and literature at the Ka Haka 'Ula O Ke'elikolani College of Hawaiian Language, Perreira wrote his 438-page thesis in Hawaiian. The program is the first in the country to offer a master's degree in a native language, officials said.
Eighty Native Hawaiians will be among the 337 students receiving their bachelor degrees in a variety of subjects, officials said.
"This has been a milestone year in academics for the Hawaiian community and the Hawaiian student service programs," said Kalani Makekau-Whittaker, coordinator of the UHH Native Hawaiian support program.
The ceremony also will feature UH President Evan Dobelle, the first head of the state university system to speak at a UHH commencement. The student speaker is Joseph Watts, who plans to teach in the Hilo area. Honolulu banking executive Wayne Miyao, who was chosen a distinguished alumnus of UHH this year, also will offer encouragement to the graduates.
Correction: Hiapo Perreira of O'ahu will become the first person to graduate from the University of Hawai'i-Hilo with a master's degree in Hawaiian language and literature. He is an assistant professor in Hawaiian language and literature at UH-Hilo. Information in a previous version of this story was incorrect.