Helping 1,500 And Growing

By Grace Blodgett
Wednesday - November 09, 2005
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University of Phoenix Hawaii staff members (from left) Robert Gail, Tau Vee-Remmers, Grace Blodgett, Gunther Seidel, Ivy Wong and Claudette Humphrey
University of Phoenix Hawaii staff members (from left)
Robert Gail, Tau Vee-Remmers, Grace Blodgett,
Gunther Seidel, Ivy Wong and Claudette Humphrey

Working hard is easy when you’re helping people. I started my career as a nurse and midwife in London, England, before I immigrated to the United States. After a long journey with a number of nursing and leadership roles, I find myself changing roles yet again - from vice president and campus director of the University of Phoenix’s Hawaii Campus to the university’s western region program implementation consultant. I will be responsible for implementing nursing and education programs in Hawaii, California and Arizona. I never imagined my career would take this path, but it happened because I saw a need to help people.

Our family moved from Salt Lake City to Hawaii in 1992. I was asked to teach a class of 22 nursing students through the University of Phoenix’s Access System, the distance-learning method used before working online through the Internet became the global phenomenon it is today. We didn’t have a campus or a classroom. In fact, I managed students and coursework from my home office and a post-office box. We immediately discovered that this wasn’t the right learning method to meet our nursing students’ needs. So, with the assistance of the university’s leadership in Phoenix, we created an official Hawaii Campus in 1993.

I was still acting as a consultant while working part time for the university. To assist me in university work, I hired Pat Hardie, who became instrumental to the campus’ success. We grew and soon hired four additional staff members: Yvonne Karlevicks, Kim Stewart, Shelly Petersen and Lei Furukawa. We helped each other through the challenges and hardships of the start-up period, and I am proud to say they are all still working with the university. In fact, Pat Hardie is now vice president of our Oregon Campus.

The University of Phoenix has continued to grow and diversify its programs to help meet Hawaii’s specific needs. Since our humble beginnings in a post-office box 13 years ago, we have grown to serve nearly 1,500 students on four campuses on Oahu - Honolulu, Windward, Kapolei and Mililani. We continue to offer new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs taught by faculty who are all working professionals, experts in their respective fields.

We take pride in our faculty, who bring “state of the art” working knowledge of their industries to our students. They possess a minimum of a master’s degree, with many having doctoral degrees. Because of this, students learn both theory and current, real-world applications as textbook lessons are brought to life by their professors’ actual examples and experiences.

This real-world view suits our students, who are not traditional collegians. They are seasoned with life experience, are employed full time and often even have a second job. They have families, children, mortgages ... and they attend college full time. Even after 16 years with the university, I continued to be amazed by our students. My heart swells at graduation because it is a recognition of all their hard work and achievements.

I am proud and humbled by the experiences my career has provided me. I see the thrill of a challenge in my new regional duties - helping the university implement new programs and ensure compliance with the rules and regulations of the nursing and education regulatory agencies in the Hawaii, California and Arizona markets.

Walid Kaakoush, the new director of the University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus, has taken the reins with enthusiasm and commitment. He brings new ideas and a fresh outlook from the Pittsburgh Campus. I am eager to see the university change and grow with the new perspectives he brings.

I am delighted that I will be able to do my regional work from Hawaii and am eager to meet the challenges of my new role. I will also have more time with my handsome husband, four children and four grandchildren. They are my support system, my greatest love and the reason I first began working with the university. Oddly enough, I have come full circle and am back to working from a home office, but this time I have a much larger post-office box.

Next Week: Dexter Kekua of Heide & Cook Co.

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