Meet the New Social Work Faculty

faculty

Dr. Danielle Giroux

Question: Where are you from/born? 

DG: I'm originally from rural Ohio. I was born and raised there. Then I lived in New Mexico for a little while, then I came [to Hawai`i]. I studied at HPU before living in Alaska for 7 years. 

Q: What were you doing before you came to HPU? 

DG: My journey has kind of gone in a big circle. Immediately before I came to HPU I was teaching at a small private college in Ohio. 

Q: Where did you receive your degrees from? 

DG: I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Kent State in Ohio. I have my MSW from HPU, and then I have my PhD in Clinical Community Psychology from the University of Alaska at Anchorage. 

Q: What excites you most about teaching at HPU? 

DG: Well, I think the students excite me the most. The program I was teaching in Ohio was an undergraduate program, so I'm excited to teach here and teach Masters students, teaching students who I used to be. And of course, I'm excited about being in Hawai`i. 

Q: How would you describe your teaching style? 

DG: My teaching style tends to be more experiential. I'm not super connected [to Hawai`i] yet, but once I get connected I'd like to create projects that partner students with organizations or programs that are going on in the community, and then students will do their learning piece, and then students will also benefit from that as well. 

Q: What is a fun fact about you? 

DG: I'm an only child. Also, according to my best friend, every dog that I adopt is very smelly. 

Q: What are your hobbies? 

DG: I like hiking, camping, fishing, snorkeling, being at the beach in general, taking my dog hiking, yoga, and reading. I also want to get into paddleboarding. 

Q: What is your favorite food? 

DG: Mom's spaghetti!!!

Q: What is your favorite movie? 

DG: Probably a movie you've never heard of, but I think everyone should watch - I Heart Huckabees. Its got a great cast. It deals with the question, "does everything we do matter, do does nothing?"

Q: What's your favorite genre of music? 

DG: I like Indie Rock in general. I also really like Oldies, like music from the 50's. 

Q: If you could change anything, what would it be? 

DG: That's a tough one. There's so many important issues. If I were to start somewhere, I would change how the international economy works. I would change the way in which, when the European powers in the United States relinquished their power over different colonies, how they started out endebted to the World Bank and those European entities, that kind of squahes development in most of the world. So that would probably be where I would start. 

Q: Name someone who inspires you and why. 

DG: I feel like there's a lot of poeple, currently and historically, who inspire me. One of the people I worked with in Alaska, she was an Alaska Native Elder. Her name was Rita Pitka Blumenstein. I would say she inspired me. She's part of this program called "The 13 Grandmothers," where 13 Indigenous grandmothers go around the world and consult with world leaders. She was just a wealth of knowledge. One of the core things that happens in most Alaska Native communities, is when you get your first kill of some kind, you give it all alway, 100%. She felt you should give your first paycheck away completely, 100% as well. So, this ideea of paying it forward, reciprocity, accumulating good karma, she was always preaching that philosophy. 

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

DG: Italy on an eating tour or Japan, on an eating tour as well. I would really love to go to Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. I would really like to see what inspired Darwin to write the theory of natural selection. 

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be? 

DG: There's an academic named Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart. I would probably be really excited to talk to her and meet her. She's a social work academic. Also, Crystal Roh Gawding, is the person who staged the strike in Africa to end sexual violence. 

 

Dr. Vince Okada-Coelho

Q: Where are you from/born? 

VO: I was born in a suburb of Tokyo and came to Hawai`i when I was 16. 

Q: What were you doing before you came to HPU? 

VO: Before here, I was at Kapiolani Community College with the international program. I also have a non-profit organization. 

Q: Where did you receive your degrees from? 

VO: I have a bachelor's degree in Education from Montclair State in New Jersey. I got my master's in International Public Policy and Management from USC. Then, I also did the East-West Center's Asia Pacific Leadership Program, Brown University Social Change Program. Those are both certificates. Then, I did my PhD at the University of Hawaii in Social Welfare. 

Q: What excites you most about teaching at HPU? 

VO: I think stories are what I'm most excited about. I think social work students have very interesting, and inspiring stories I'm excited to hear. 

Q: How would you describe your teaching style?  

VO: I think my style is influenced by my old professors from undergrad and USC, very untraditional. I like more hands-on, student focused and centered. I like students to think different and go off site to experience as well. 

Q: What is a fun fact about you? 

VO: I have multicultural experience in the past including working at Disney World, and I used to teach tennis. You could never guess what I did in the past. 

Q: What are your hobbies? 

VO: I like to go hiking to the beach with my dog. I also like travel, lots of cultural stuff like hula, lomi lomi, and Japanese drums (taiko). I just came back from India so I like yoga now too. I like gardening too! 

Q: What is your favorite food? 

VO: Kalua pork! 

Q: What is your favorite movie? 

VO: I like to enjoy practical drama motives, but my favorite movie would be Stand By Me. 

Q: What's your favorite genre of music? 

VO: I like jazz and southern music. 

Q: If you could change anything, what would it be? 

VO: I can only think of the cheesy answer, world peace - a place where everybody is happy and stress free. Every time I go to the temple, I always think about that. 

Q: Name someone who inspires you and why. 

VO: I'll pick Walt Disney. In my English 101 class I learned a lot about him. He's an entertainer, and created an environment for people and society, even during war time. He created a place where they could forget about all the tough times and challenges. He helped people to keep dreaming. 

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

VO: First of all, Alaska. I was thinking about goint to college in Alaska. I kind of want to go into Outer Space and get a view of the world from the universe. 

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be? 

VO: My grandparents. They passed away when I was younger. Since I moved to Hawaii, everyone talks about ancestors and elders, and there are lots of stories from older people. I try to talk to my parents but they don't know. I wish I could sit down and have a conversation with my grandparents.