Student Pursues Leadership Through Polynesian Club

Posted: August 29, 2019 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 2 minutes

Aioise (Ise) TalamoniWhen Aioise Talamoni, then shy and introverted, took her Southern Utah University campus tour, the first thing she asked was if there was an active Polynesian Club on campus. Talamoni was thrilled to learn about and immediately get involved with both the Polynesian Club and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI). The two have provided her with the network that helped her not only come out of her shell but also find her passion for leadership.

Talamoni was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised in Afao, American Samoa. She is the first of her five siblings to leave Samoa.

“When I moved to Utah, I was nervous about how I would fit into an American school because I had only ever attended school on the islands up to that point,” Talamoni said. “Whenever I thought I couldn’t fit in somewhere, I knew I fit in at the CDI and the Poly Club.”

In her sophomore year, Talamoni was a kumu (kumu is a Hawaiian word meaning teacher) for the Polynesian Showcase, choreographing a dance representing Samoa. The Polynesian Showcase incorporates student and faculty kumus who teach not only authentic, traditional dances for participants to perform, but they also explain what each dance move means. Between the music and the dance moves, each dance tells a different story.

“Being a kumu was the foot in the door,” Talamoni said. “The Polynesian Club and the CDI have provided me so many connections to help me get to where I am today. But, being a kumu gave me the confidence I needed to pursue other leadership positions on campus.”

After being a kumu, Talamoni was a Tavi Team captain, a resident assistant, and the Polynesian Club president during her junior year. Entering her senior year this fall, Talamoni will serve again as the Polynesian Club president in addition to being an assistant coach for excellence & success (ACES).

“Ise is a CDI gem,” said CDI Director Maria Martinez. “She always has a smile on her face, her laugh is contagious, and you can always find her sitting with students she found sitting alone. Ise works tirelessly as the president of the Polynesian Club, contributing to its recent growth.”

After Talamoni graduates, she wishes to be an advocate for Polynesian peoples, and share knowledge from her experience moving to Utah.

Tags: Clubs Center for Diversity and Inclusion

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