More than a student

Kaipo Leopoldino may be known around our college community for being the President of the student government association (CSGA), a campus ministry participant, the recipient of Chaminade’s Alaka‘i award and the lead role to the most recent theatrical performance, “Little Shop of Horrors.” However, amongst all his recent accomplishments, Leopoldino can now add one more honor to his growing list.

Aside from all his extracurricular activities, Leopoldino remains deeply rooted in his culture and was invited by a faculty member of Chaminade University to perform a ceremonious chant announcing the presence of particular recipients at the annual O’o Award ceremony.

“Each year, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce hosts a prestigious event known as the O‘o Awards, which is presented to a specific individual within the Native Hawaiian community whom the chamber feel exemplifies outstanding leadership towards Native Hawaiians,” said Leopoldino.

Some past recipients include the late Henry Halenani Gomes of Chaminade’s office of native Hawaiian partnerships, the Brothers Cazimero and Admiral Kihune, former trustee of the Kamehameha Schools. All of whom, were chanted in to the opening festivities by a person nominated for the esteemed role.

This year, one of the many members who were presented with an O’o award included Chaminade’s board of Regents member, Vaughn Vasconcellos. Vasconcellos was announced, through chant by Leopoldino on the night of the ceremony on Friday, April 26.

“For me it was a big honor,” Leopoldino said. “Looking back, when Uncle Henry received his award, his chanter was Ka’upena Wong, who is considered to be one of Hawai‘i’s premiere chanters.”

Flattered to be chanting amongst some of Hawai‘i’s treasured artists, this years list of chanters, aside from Leopoldino, consisted of Amy Kalili and Randie Kamuela Fong, each for the other O’o awardees.

Tentative to accept in the beginning, Leopoldino shared his initial thoughts before taking on the esteemed responsibility to chant.

“When I looked at the list of people receiving awards and the people chosen to chant them in, I was very intimidated,” said Leopoldino. “I was very intimidated, thinking about the people who’ve chanted before and the ones now, I couldn’t see myself chanting amongst the greats.”

Afraid of not being able to meet the high standard, Leopoldino reluctantly agreed but soon learned about the relationship of each chanter to their beneficiaries and the chanters prestigious responsibility.

“Each chanter is chosen based on the relationship ties to those being awarded,” Leopoldino said. “I think the unique about Mr. Vasconcellos was that his recommendation came from our school and that my winning recommendation came from Kapono Ryan, Communications director for Chaminade.”

“In the end, I was very glad I had the opportunity to be a part of something “pono” (right).” Leopoldino said. “I believe that Chaminade University was well represented, plus, I got some positive feedback that I really wasn’t expecting but very appreciative to hear.”