Maui News

Sen. English Honored With Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award

March 10, 2016, 5:03 PM HST
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Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

State Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe) was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Pacific and Asian Studies Distinguished Graduate Award in Pacific Islands Studies.

Sen. English was honored at a ceremony held Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Center for Korean Studies at the East-West Center.

The award recognized Sen. English for his accomplishments, serving his community for nearly 20 years as a Senator and Maui County Councilmember, and for his work as an advisor, advocate and active member of committees and organizations that promote understanding of the Pacific Islands and issues of concern to Pacific Islanders.

“We selected Senator English to receive this prestigious award because he exemplifies our center’s mission,” said Terence Wesley-Smith, PhD, Professor and Director for the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. “We are impressed by Senator English’s record of public service in Hawai’i, as well as his many efforts to further relations with countries across the Pacific Islands region.”

“I’m deeply honored to receive this award,” said Sen. English in a department press release. “This field of study has much more potential in areas such as law, social sciences, economy, communications, and government. The fact that the Pacific Islands are gaining in influence as one community and one large economic and social block only signifies the impact this program can have in this state, in this world, in the future.”


Sen. English earned his B.A. in Pacific Islands Studies from Hawai‘i Loa College in 1989. He is an alumnus of the East-West Center’s Institute of Culture and Communication, and completed graduate studies at UH Mānoa in 1995 with an M.A. in Pacific Islands Studies. He was an adviser to the Permanent Mission of Federated States of Micronesia to the UN, served as Former President of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, and as a member of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, American Council for Young Political Leaders, and Council of State Governments West Executive Committee.


Bilingual in English and Hawaiian languages and proficient in Mandarin, Sen. English served on the Maui County Council before joining the Hawai‘i State Senate in November 2000. He currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader and vice chair of the Senate Committees on Hawaiian Affairs and Tourism and International Affairs, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Transportation and Energy.

The School of Pacific and Asian Studies has more than 1,800 alumni worldwide who have gone on to be successful in industry, research and in their communities. The award was established to profile, highlight, acknowledge and recognize SPAS alumni.

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