Aloha! You may have seen a new byline over the past couple weeks, and I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Tianna Morimoto and I’m an intern with West Hawaii Today for the month of January. I am currently a senior communication studies major and a broadcast journalism minor at Chapman University in Orange, California.
I was born and raised in this beautiful community and graduated from Konawaena High School in 2015. Growing up, I committed over a decade of my life to athletics, performance and service- activities that shaped me into the person I am, and still enjoy today.
Flying through the air, swinging on a bar, or landing on a 3.5 inch beam may sound intimidating, but trust me, it’s a lot of fun. As an artistic gymnast with Kona Aerials Gymnastics, I competed on all apparatuses — vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise for many years — and most of our competitions would take place on Oahu. Gymnastics is a sport that I will always love and appreciate. It isn’t all about the flips or tricks, but it’s the dedication, discipline, and overcoming of fears, that leads to success.
Dancing to “Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride” in my yellow grass skirt is one of the earliest memories I have as a hula dancer. I began hula with Ka Makani O Ka Moku Aina hula studio around 6-years-old, and haven’t stopped dancing since. I love learning about the culture, and also the various Polynesian dance styles. Hula is something I’ve been able to take with me wherever I go such as traveling to New Zealand and Israel with my halau and performing to the people of those countries, being on May Day court in high school, to teaching my friends on the mainland and performing in college.
4-H is a program that teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills. My club — the “Aloha Angels” — and I would organize and participate in community service projects throughout the year. These included Kinder KAMP, Project C.R.I.B., Hat’s Off to the American Red Cross, or volunteering at the Hawaii Island Humane Society. An extraordinary opportunity I experienced was being selected to attend the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta in 2014. This conference includes 4-Hers from across the country coming together to attend workshops, gain more insight on how to be a leader, and perform community service.
Last summer, I had a short three-week internship with Hawaii News Now on Oahu. It was very hands on from the start as I wrote web stories, went out with photographers, attended press conferences and conducted interviews for assignments. I also shadowed segment shoots like “Cheap Eats” with Guy Hagi and Augie T. It was pretty incredible to meet people I’ve watched and followed on TV for years.
Throughout my time at Chapman, I have kept busy with Pua’ikeana — Chapman’s Hawaii Club — and various on-campus jobs.
Since freshman year, I have been a member of Pua’ikeana. We strive to spread the Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit with the Chapman community. Every year, we host a luau that attracts hundreds of people. The event is filled with student performances, Hawaiian food, and games. It’s a comforting feeling to be able to connect with other students who are from the same state, like the same food, and grew up with the same culture as I did. Fun fact, both of my roommates are from Hawaii! They live on Oahu!
Last year I worked as an upperclassmen resident advisor — RA — for Residence Life and First Year Experience at Chapman. My staff and I handled everything from lockouts and incidents, to planning floor and building programs for the residents. Although I am no longer an RA, I truly learned a lot from this position.
This year, I work with the Wellness Project on campus. We’re a group of certified peer educators who plan educational events for students that focus on different aspects of wellness- physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. It’s very satisfying to see an event come together starting from ideas on a blank document, to having almost 100 attendants.
While at West Hawaii Today, I have already gotten to experience many new opportunities in stories and assignments. One of the reasons I became interested in journalism is because everyday is different and exciting. At the conclusion of my internship, I hope to have gained more insight of the field, and develop into a stronger writer.
Tianna Morimoto is a senior at Chapman University who is interning at West Hawaii Today during January.