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Seasider Spotlight: Christina Akanoa

Christina Akanoa sitting in a chair inside of her office. Behind her is a bookshelf filled with vairous objects.
Photo by Monique Saenz

Name: Christina Akanoa

BYUH employee since: 2003

BYUH alumna: class of 2000

My job at BYUH is... assistant professor of Political Science (POSC).

I grew up in... Western Samoa.

I'm currently teaching... the intro to political science course and the oceanic governments and politics course. I'm also the department coordinator for the political science internships.

I get most excited about my work... when I see a student gain perspective through their internship experience.

My favorite thing about teaching... is seeing students connect in-class learning to what's outside the classroom through meaningful projects they take time to work on and complete.

Best advice I've ever received about teaching... "don't take anything personally." Being open-minded to different perspectives is essential as an educator, and it's important not to assume what students are thinking. Especially as a pacific islander and a woman, it was hard to transition from student to teacher because of the boundaries that had to be drawn.

My favorite memory at BYUH... is every year when I take students to the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City. It's fun to see students in a new light and different environment where they get into their element and their confidence soars.

Christina Akanoa standing outside.
Photo by Monique Saenz

My advice to graduating seniors is... create opportunities, don't wait for them to come. It's up to you to make it happen.

What sparked my interest in my career field... growing up in Samoa, I saw a lot of things I disagreed with. Society there was split into the "haves and the have-nots," if you aren't high up in the social economics, it's a big disadvantage. I was involved in and advocated for my village in a local political case in my youth. That experience resonated with me; I wanted to be a changemaker ever since.

I chose to come to BYUH because... I saw the experiences my older siblings had here and wanted that for myself. BYU–Hawaii was always my number one option.

When I have 30 minutes of free time... I catch up on the news.

On Friday nights, you'll find me... at home. Friday is "family night" or "date night" for the family. We always order food, watch a movie, or go out together.

You'll never find me without... earrings. I love earrings.

If I could travel anywhere, I would go to... Japan because... I love Japanese food.

The title of my autobiography would be... "What you see is what you get" I'm an open book and very outspoken. Growing up in Samoa I had to defend myself, so I have thick skin.

My favorite holiday tradition is... celebrating Christmas. I've always loved Christmas. It's a time to be together with family and center yourself in Christ.

My favorite quote is... "An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind" or "be the change you wish to see in the world" from Mahatma Gandhi.

My go-to comfort food is... ice cream, Ben & Jerry's, or any ice cream with cookie chunks or nuts.

One item on my bucket list is... to travel to Europe. I want to visit countries like Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.