APAL Program 2020-21 Cohort

The Hawaii Asia-Pacific Affairs Leadership Program 2020-2021 Cohort:

Cheryl Bellisario is currently a student pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Ms. Bellisario is interested in all levels of policy – from local to international policy. She is excited to learn about the intricacies of policy and diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region and how human rights are intertwined.


Melanie Carrié is an aspiring foreign service officer, currently working in real estate and radio in Hawaii. She received her BA in Politics and Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, speaks 3 languages, and has lived in 5 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. She is a member of the steering committee for the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, and is in the process of applying to graduate school where she hopes to pursue her MA in Foreign Policy. Melanie aspires to aid in bettering the international relations and intercultural communication between the United States and countries abroad.


Starshine Chun is a Senior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. She lived in Busan, South Korea as a child and went back to volunteer at the DMZ running across the Korean Peninsula, where she spent a week experiencing an average day in a life of the Korean military and educating herself about the Korean War. She later went to Washington, D.C. where she interned for the U.S Senate, learning about climate change and infrastructure policy on federal and state levels. She hopes to bring her experiences in Korea and in the Senate to the program.


Hunter Heaivilin is a Food Systems Planner at Supersistence. He has worked with individuals, organizations, communities, and networks to address issues in environmental quality, social equity, and economic development. As a doctoral candidate at the UH Manoa Department of Geography and Environment, his research focuses on how global patterns of capital accumulation through agricultural shape local food systems and produce food crises. He most recently worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the UH Manoa Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.


Sterling Higa is a debate coach and lecturer in the Department of Communication at Hawaii Pacific University, where he taught public speaking, persuasion, argumentation, and technical communication. He is also a contributing writer for Hawaii Business Magazine. Sterling is completing his PhD in Educational Foundatios from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, holds a master’s in Education from Harvard University, and a BA in Communicology from the UH Manoa. He most recently presented at the IAFOR International Conference on Education in 2019 on “Superstars and Tutors: Internet Effects on Education.”


Nanea Lo is from Papakōlea, Oʻahu. She is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian). Through civic engagement, podcast hosting, and community organizing, Lo advocates for Hawaiian sovereignty, aloha ‘āina, and feminism on the national and international scale. She has been a part of innovative local and international programs such as Native American Political Leadership Program, Kuleana Academy, Young Pacific Leaders, and Peace Scholars. She believes that relationships are the fabric of life and is excited to better understand Asia and the Pacific through the APAL Program.


Xintao Lu is a Research Intern at Pacific Forum and a recent graduate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Asian Studies Master’s Program. His research interest is clustered around U.S. China relations and Chinese domestic policy, with an emphasis on the intersections of Chinese politics, society, culture and ideology. He is currently researching the American perspective on the dynamics between domestic Chinese players, (e.g. the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people), and how it has, and may continue to shape U.S.-China relations.


Katie Pham is completing her final year of law school at the William S. Richardson School of Law. She is Senior Editor of the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal, President of Students for Public Outreach & Civic Education, and Oralist on the Jessup International Moot Court Team. Prior to attending law school, Katie interned at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. She served as an Extern for Chief Justice Recktenwald of the Hawaii Supreme Court, and was a summer associate at Hawaii Gas. She received an MA in French Literature and a BA in French and Philosophy from University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Rayne Sullivan is a JD candidate at Columbia Law School. Before Columbia, Rayne received his master’s degree from the University of Oxford, where he worked as an AI researcher at the Rhodes Artificial Intelligence Lab. Rayne completed his undergraduate study at Georgetown University, where he studied international relations, minored in Mandarin Chinese, and received a certificate in Asian Studies from the School of Foreign Service. Rayne is the Chairman and founder of Georgetown Diplomatic Strategies, a professional development and diplomatic consulting non-profit that has worked with over fourteen ambassadors and embassies.


Caroline Wood works in strategic project development as the Program Specialist for the University of Hawai‘i (UH) STEM Pre-Academy, an organization dedicated to connecting UH research and technology with public middle schools statewide. She is currently pursuing a Global MBA at the Shidler College of Business. She received her BS in Marine Biology from UH Mānoa. Caroline is a former Program Manager for Our Project in Hawai‘i’s Intertidal (OPIHI), a UH Mānoa College of Education professional development initiative for marine science research and outreach. Caroline is passionate about mitigation measures for regional climate change impacts, and the role of public education in building resilient futures for Hawai‘i communities.


Melissa Yago is a senior pursuing her undergraduate studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in Accounting, Finance & Management Information Systems. Throughout her college life, she has had the opportunity to study abroad at Sophia University in Japan to improve her Japanese while also studying a semester at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Those experiences have allowed her to foster her global mindset which she now uses to fulfill her role as a Shidler Global Leader and as President to the International Business Organization at the Shidler College of Business.


Justin Yee is currently a junior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is pursuing a double major in History and Economics and a double minor in Chinese and Psychology. His long-term career interests are in International Law, specifically in the East Asia region. He currently serves as the Manoa Debate Union team captain and will study abroad at the University of Toronto through the Fulbright Canada Killam Fellowship program in Spring 2020.