A Salt Lake Community College association wants to see Pacific Islander students succeed and creates the ideal environment to help them do so.
The Pacific Unity Association, or PUA, organizes events as well as activities and provides resources for Pacific Islander students at SLCC. PUA helps students gain access to a multitude of scholarships, introduces them to leadership opportunities, and is a catalyst for networking.
PUA co-advisor and SLCC alumnus Leka Heimuli shed some light on what PUA has to offer for students at SLCC by describing it as an essential program and said that it is not only a safe space but a “brave space” and a “home away from home” for Pacific Islander students to get more involved.
PUA highlights a focus on three core areas: advocacy, collaboration, as well as graduation and retention. A crucial part of the association’s goals is to implement a significant emphasis on the advocacy for Pacific Islanders as a minority, as well as other underrepresented students at SLCC.
Heimuli described the collaboration aspect as a tool that PUA utilizes to work with other multicultural groups at SLCC, as well as similar groups at neighboring institutions, such as the University of Utah and Utah Valley University. When students connect with groups at these schools, they are likely to transition better if they choose to transfer to one of these four-year colleges. The graduation and retention aspect aids students in their studies as they advance in their academic careers.
Heimuli stated that Pacific Islander students are one of the lowest ranking academic achieving groups, so one of PUA’s main goals is to change this status by providing these students with any help or support that they may need to reach their academic goals.
Even if you are not a member of the Pacific Islander community, PUA welcomes students from all cultural backgrounds. Heimuli expressed the importance of gaining knowledge from different perspectives. If students are interested in making new friends at SLCC while learning more about the cultures that make up the Pacific Islands, this group can be beneficial.
SLCC student Babiker “Babi” Abdalla, a business management major, said that he joined PUA even though he is not a Pacific Islander.
“[PUA] has helped me grow into a more active and involved student, and it offers me all of the resources that I’m looking for at SLCC,” Abdalla said.
For more information on the Pacific Unity Association, as well as events or activities hosted by the program, visit the association’s webpage. To reach out to either co-advisor with questions, email Leka Heimuli or Alisi Mateitalo Hoamofaleono Niupalau.