Big Island Press Club to award scholarships to four students

  • The featured speaker at the BIPC Scholarship ceremony is Mitchell Byars, a two-time BIPC scholarship recipient and Kona native. (Courtesy photo)

The Big Island Press Club is awarding scholarships totaling $3,000 to four students this year. The press club annually awards scholarships at an event to students pursuing a higher education in journalism or a related field.

Lichen Forster will receive the $1,000 Bill Arballo Scholarship. A 2021 graduate of Waiakea High School, she will attend University of Hawaii at Hilo in the fall.

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“When I started seriously considering a career in journalism, I was a hot-headed 15-year-old, frustrated with climate change, social justice and everything else,” Forster said. “Journalists should have unique perspectives and passions, but ultimately they need to deliver the public honest stories intended to inform rather than persuade.”

The Big Island Press Club was the brainchild of Bill Arballo, a founding member in 1967 and the club’s first president. A former United Press International reporter, he is honored through a scholarship funded by an annual donation of $1,000 from Arballol’s daughter, Teresa Barth, and her husband, Bill. Arballo died in 2016.

Lauren Okinaka will receive the Robert Miller/Jack Markey Scholarship of $1000. Okinaka is a UHH communication major.

“My career goal is to use my writing skills to tell impactful stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” Okinaka said. “I see writing as a tool to give a voice to the voiceless. Writing is both a skill and an art. Good writers know how to strategize, research, and tell the story in a way that reaches audiences and moves them to act or react. I learn something new from every person I meet and every story I write. I would love to be a travel journalist or a writer that advocates for mental health.”

Robert Miller was a UPI reporter whose 1968 speech to BIPC inspired Ouida Hill, wife of state Sen. W.H. “Doc” Hill, to donate $1,000 to start the Miller Scholarship. Miller died in 2004.

The late Jack Markey was a fixture on Hilo’s streets. Unable to drive because of poor vision, Markey, a senior citizen, walked and hitchhiked around town to sell radio advertising. He recruited new members for BIPC and was instrumental in building the BIPC scholarship endowment.

Alianna West-Rodrigues will receive the $500 Hugh Clark Scholarship. A 2021 graduate of Hawaii Preparatory Academy, she will attend Emerson College in Boston.

“I have long dreamed of becoming a sports or entertainment broadcaster,” West-Rodrigues said. “This aspiration was the logical fruition of my greatest passions: playing soccer and competing in pageants. … Majoring in journalism will assist me to foster the communication proficiency, the analytical prowess, and the technical skills that I must possess to achieve the level of competency and effectiveness to which I aspire.”

Hugh Clark was a “newspaperman’s newspaperman.” He wrote about crime, politics, sports and volcanic eruptions for the Honolulu Advertiser and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. He was a charter member of the Big Island Press Club. Clark died in 2015.

Emmy Okinaka will receive the $500 Yukino Fukabori Scholarship. A 2021 graduate of Waiakea High School, she will attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa and major in creative media.

“My career goal is to become a professional photographer or cinematographer,” Okinaka said. “Advanced technology, the internet and social media have dramatically changed the way we communicate and connect with each other. The best storytellers are able to evoke a strong emotion from and convey a clear message to their audience. I love storytelling.”

Noteworthy for reporting hard news for a predecessor paper to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald as early as the 1930s — when women reporters were generally relegated to the society page — Fukabori, who later taught news writing at Hilo High School, funded a scholarship in 1993. She died in 1995.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BIPC Scholarship awardees this year will be honored via a Zoom online ceremony on Friday, June 18, at 6 p.m. The featured speaker is Mitchell Byars. A two-time BIPC scholarship recipient and Kona native, Byars, a breaking news and courts reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., wrote the initial accounts of the March 22 mass shooting in a Boulder supermarket.

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The public can view the scholarship ceremony live via the Big Island Press Club’s public Facebook page at facebook.com/TheBigIslandPressClub. The ceremony will be archived on the page for later access, as well.

The BIPC Scholarship committee for 2021 is: Robert Duerr, writer for Hawaii Fishing News and numerous national outdoor publications, BIPC treasurer and committee chair; Royelen Boykie, planned giving steward for Food &Water Watch and BIPC board member; and John Burnett, police and courts reporter for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, BIPC immediate past-president and three-time BIPC scholarship recipient.

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