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Seasider Spotlight: Caryn Lesuma

Caryn Lesuma

Name: Caryn Joan Lefanga Kunz Lesuma

BYUH employee since (part-time) 2014, (full-time) 2018.

I grew up… here in Laie, Hawaii.

I chose to teach at BYUH… one, because this is where I grew up, and two, because my area of research is Pacific Literature, and the student body here has a significant amount of people from the Pacific.

I’m currently working on… finishing a book proposal. I’m trying to convert my dissertation into a book whose topic is ‘Young Adult Literature in Oceania.’

My most cherished memory in BYUH is… graduation. I love seeing my students walk across the stage, get their diplomas, greet them with pride, and send them off into the world.

My advice to graduating seniors is… to stay as open-minded as you can in this school as you are exposed to different people from different cultures. Be accepting of them and be curious about them.

What sparks my interest in my field is… my love for reading. I’m part Samoan, so my heritage has drawn me to Pacific literature, especially since I grew up in Hawaii. I’m also drawn to young adult literature because it is one of the most accessible types of literature people can read, and it can help our youth feel confident in their identities to grow into well-adjusted adults who contribute to society.

On Saturday mornings, you’ll find me… cleaning my house. I live in Kaneohe and commute to work, so I’m catching up on my house duties because I’m not home that much.

You’ll never find me without… my audiobooks. I do almost all of my reading this way, and I’m subscribed to Audible, Scribd, and Spotify. Across all three platforms, I end up getting all the books I need.

When I have 30 minutes of free time… I watch baking competition shows on the Food Network because I love to bake.

One item on my bucket list… is to go to Japan. My husband and I love watching anime and eating Japanese food, so I want to go there and enjoy the beautiful country I’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve always… loved playing the Legend of Zelda video games. I’ve played Tears of the Kingdom and many of the previous games. I also own a lot of Zelda merchandise at home and in my office, and my eight-month-old daughter’s name is Zelda.

My favorite way to spend my day off… is with my family at the beach.

The last TV show I binge-watched was… Holiday Baking Championship.

I am currently reading… Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao.

My favorite quote is… “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

The biggest challenge I’ve faced… was infertility. We couldn’t have kids for 12 years, and I had to do all kinds of testing. It was very important for me to have children because I’m all for the concept of big families, influenced by the fact that I’m a Pacific Islander and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I’m most looking forward to… seeing my children grow up. We’ve waited 12 years before they finally came into this world, and I’m excited to see them grow. It’s a surreal experience.