The Pacific Islander Student Alliance Conference 2021 (PISACON21) is excited to present the follow guest who will be our Talanoa.
Michael Tuncap is set to open us up at our opening workshop. Tuncap is the co-founder of the Pacific Islander Studies Institute of Washington. His forthcoming book E RACED was featured in the historic 2009 Matamati: The Vasa in Us with Craig Santos Perez. He studied at the University of Virginia in 2000 as a Ralph Bunche fellow. From 2003-2009, he taught Ethnic Studies courses to over 1,200 undergraduates at UC Berkeley while earning his M.A in Ethnic Studies in 2005 & is currently completing his PH.D. Tuncap served on the Guam Delegation to the United Nations 2007-2009.
Dr. David Palaita is helping us kick off our Talanoa Session, where students can network and share out their experiences as Islanders in higher education. Dr. Palaita, an early tenured professor at City College of San Francisco, teaches courses on Critical Islander Studies and will close off our student session with a conversation with PISA founder Makerusa Porotesano. David is one of the founders of the Talanoa Series and the Pacific Islander Scholarly collective which hosted the first ever Pre-Conference at the National Conference of Race and Ethnicity. Dr. Palaita is also joining PISACON21 after hosting the VASA Conference, which provides access to Pacific Islander focused workshops to High School and Middle School students in the Bay Area.
Milikaleakona Tonga Hopoi will go our closing talanoa at our special closing and graduate celebration. Hailing from Portland, OR, Tonga Hopoi began her career as a White House intern in the Office of the First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama working on initiatives such as “Reach Higher” and “Let Girls Learn”. Beyond Tonga’s work in the Office of the First Lady, she was the first Tongan to hold a position in the White House. Tonga currently resides in Honolulu, HI, as the chief of staff for the Hawai’i State Senate Majority Caucus Leader Dru Mamo Kanuha (Kona, Ka’ū) working on the legislative procedure, intergovernmental process, and managing the Majority Caucus.