Hawaii Child Welfare Education Collaboration
MEET THE HCWEC SCHOLARS
My name is Elizabeth Brown, and I have lived on Oahu for the past 28 years. I am originally from the Philippines. I have lived in two other states prior to moving to Oahu. I received my BSW from the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. The reason why I chose Child Welfare is because there is a great need to help our Keiki who are abused and neglected. Breaking intergenerational poverty and abuse has been my passion for many years. Being in the HCWEC program has been very rewarding! I have the opportunity to work with CWS social workers who are passionate about what they do and that has been so inspiring for me to witness!
My name is Kim Soito I am an international interracial adoptee from Korea. I grew up mostly in California and moved to Oahu in 1992. In 2014, I received an Undergraduate BED in Elementary Education and Special Education. My passion for supporting children has guided me to pursue a Masters in Social Work focusing on children and families. Being a part of the HCWEC program gives me a clear insight to the purpose of being a social worker. Every day brings new challenges, everyday I am learning something new.
My name is Deashia-Lei Yadao and I am born and raised on O’ahu. I am a 2016 BSW graduate from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. At-risk youth is a population that I have always had a great passion to work with. My field experiences include working with at-risk young adults and youth in Hawaiian conservation and gang-group intervention. My personal interest and experiences have motivated me to work toward a Master’s Degree in Social Work and become educated on the socioeconomic issues in my community. The HCWEC program has given me the opportunity to not only gain experience in working with at-risk youth, but also within their families. Although extremely challenging, working with CWS is a rewarding experience that is helping me to strengthen my practice as a Social Worker.
My name is Bethany Rasmussen, and I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I graduated with my Bachelor's in Social Work from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2014, and moved to the Big Island a few months later to start a new adventure! My initial interest in the field of child welfare social work came from growing up in a family who regularly embraced children through adoption and foster care. I am passionate about working with at-risk children and families, and want to be a part of bringing hope and healing to their lives. The HCWEC program has provided an incredible opportunity for me to learn and grow through this challenging work. I am proud to be a part of a dedicated team of social workers who work hard to help strengthen families and keep children safe.
My name is Lee-Ann Wheelden. I was born and raised in a town just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. I moved to Kauai when I was 22, in search of a new beginning. 8 years later I decided to move to Oahu with the intention of creating a better future for myself and my family. While in school I changed my intended degree several times before choosing to pursue social work. I received my BSW from the University of Hawaii at Manoa this past year and could not be happier with the career field I have chosen. I specifically wanted to focus on Child Welfare for my Master’s degree because I feel a deep connection and responsibility to the child and adolescent population. The HCWEC project has provided me with the invaluable experience of working with these vulnerable populations first hand. Also, this program promotes master’s level social workers to remain in the state of Hawaii for their career. Which I believe is incredibly beneficial, not only for the unique experiences and opportunities for social work but for the communities and people of Hawaii.
My name is Bruce Wallace; I was born and raised on O`ahu. I graduated with my BSW from the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. My interested with Child Welfare stems from my experience in working with foster youth and families in the CWS system. For the last few years, I have been involved with families in CWS using Native Hawaiian interventions to better themselves and their lives. My passion has always been to advocate for foster children in the system and to help at-risk families that suffer from systemic issues. HEWEC has given me the incredible opportunity to work alongside Social Workers who are dedicated and passionate about the service they provide. The program also furthers my education and knowledge in this challenging field.
My name is Jessica and I am originally from the Bay Area, California. I received my Bachelor's in Social Work from the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. I hope to graduate this Spring with my MSW. I chose Social Work (and the HCWEC program) because I am very passionate about maintaining the emotional, physical, and psychological safety and well-being of children. HCWEC has provided me with an opportunity to do work I feel passionate about while contributing to my personal and professional growth and development.
My name is Moana Schwenke. I am originally from San Diego, California. My family moved to Oahu when I was 14 and I lived here through my early 20’s. After living in Las Vegas, NV for the past 2 decades circumstances arose that made it necessary to come back in 2014. The move back to Oahu has proven to be a very difficult, but an extremely rewarding decision. I obtained my BSW at Brigham Young University-Hawaii in February of 2016. I chose the HCWEC program because my passion is the strengthening of at-risk families. Also, I feel working in child welfare will give me a base of experience that will greatly benefit me in any other area of social work I may choose to pursue. The unique cultural diversity of Hawaii also provides more of an opportunity to increase cultural competence as well as more of chance to work with clients from my own Polynesian culture. This program has been very challenging and at times demanding, but I know it was the right choice for me.