The mind behind the Lei of Thanks


Alumni Relations Director Be-Jay Kodama is proud to be a Silversword.

After sitting in Fall Spiritual Convocation Mass back in August, Be-Jay Kodama, director of Alumni Relations here at Chaminade, was moved by the message, where all the planning for the Lei of Thanks began. Kodama was the mind behind the recent Lei of Thanks video and banner that encouraged students to say thank you on video and in writing to faculty, staff, alumni, and donors of Chaminade.

Kodama has worked for Chaminade University for nine years. When talking with Kodama her emotions showed her passion for this event. The Lei of Thanks brought students together to express their appreciation toward Chaminade. Kodama’s inspiration and dedication helped make the Lei of Thanks something Chaminade will have to cherish for years to come.

“Relationships with students and faculty are the ones that last life long,” Kodama said.

According to Kodama, Chaminade is all about coming together as alumni, donors, scholarship foundations and faculty. The lei on the banner symbolizes togetherness and bringing together community. The intention was to bring everyone together in solidarity and unity. As you string a lei, you are joining different flowers to create one beautiful piece, likewise, this event was to bring diverse students together to create one powerful message, thank you. It highlights the ohana spirit that Chaminade shares. The lei idea came from Teresa Fujino, who handles special events for the president. Since 2004, Kodama has done various projects for Chaminade, each having its own special purpose.

Kodama corresponds with the alumni, seven to nine times a year, and was brainstorming of what to give the alumni for Thanksgiving. Kodama remembered seeing other schools create videos and banners, which students wrote on, and gave short thank you speeches. Seeing what other schools did inspired her. Kodama knew that she could not do the task alone. She then contacted various organization groups around campus to help her implement her ideas.

The inspirational message from mass brought up two ideas. One was challenging students, faculty and staff, to love one another and live the values that we’re taught at Chaminade. The second idea was to do things as one. The message moved Kodama to take on the challenge. The message went on to talk about seven ups. Three of the seven stuck with Kodama: look up, reach up, and lift up. The message was empowering and motivational.

Kodama reached out to Raydeen Keahiolalo-Karasuda, director of Native Hawaiian Partnerships, to assist her in a Hawaiian saying that would carry her through the year. Keahiolalo-Karasuda picked out three Olelo Noeau and Kodama chose one that not only related to her, but to mass as well. The Olelo Noeau read, “E Ala! E alu! E Kuilima!” This translates, to rise up together, coming together. Kodama was surprised. Not only did this Olelo Noeau relate to the message she received in mass, but it inspired Kodama to build community within the alumni relationships and the current student body.

It is Kodama’s hope that students will be inspired to give back, and continue the circle, like a lei, and help future students. Kodama was more than grateful that students came out to participate in the event. She couldn’t have made the event happen without everyone’s help. The Lei of Thanks went from being just an idea, to everyone working together to make it happen.

“Students came wanting to say thank you,” Kodama said.

Kodama felt that student’s sincerity and gratitude were incredible.

“Although Chaminade is a small school, we can do big and great things,” Kodama said.