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CSAM Professional Highlight: Robert Bachini

Asian Pacific Islanders
October 30, 2018

Preferred Name: Robert Bachini
Position Title: Director of Undergraduate Programs, Shidler College of Business
Department: Office of Student Academic Services
Institution: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
How long youʻve been in the field: 22 years

I began my higher education profession after serving eight (8) years in Hawai‘i public K-12 education, Windward O‘ahu District. I started at Honolulu Community College in the Native Hawaiian Vocational Education Project, and then took a position at Windward Community College in the TRiO Student Support Services Program. My research interest has focused on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented ethnically diverse, first-generation college, low income, and students with disabilities.

Today, I am responsible for all facets of student services (e.g., admission, orientation, advising, scholarship, graduation, enrollment management, student clubs, study abroad, etc.) in the business college serving over 1,000 students at the flagship campus of the University of Hawai‘i system. I supervise a department of approximately 12 para-professional and professional staff. A typical work week might include committee or department meetings, individual student advising appointments, program and/or course planning, advising student clubs, developing/reviewing staff performance goals, budget review, and/or attendance at professional development conferences or workshops.

As the youngest of seven (7) children in a bi-racial household, my ethnic identity was confusing to me. While living on the U.S. continent, people assumed I was Mexican and conversed with me in Spanish despite my quizzical look. I never learned to speak my native tongue. I was a minority student attending a predominantly White, private, college preparatory high school (Loyola High) in an inner city. Adding to this confusion was the persistent claim by others that I “had to be Italian” due to my surname.

I found my “Filipinoness” while attending a small, liberal arts college, Chaminade University of Honolulu. It was a place where everybody knew your name. I met and saw others that looked like me, sounded like me, and wore their ethnic heritage with pride, not shame. I attended chicken fights in the country, ate at Filipino restaurants, and supported the accomplishments of local Filipino boxers or professional entertainers. Being Filipino meant food, family, and fun (aka Foodland supermarkets)! I grew into it, I embraced it.

APIDA issues? We need to come from a place of strength, not deficits. We are not less than, but more than. Accept the challenge to educate others, but do not accept microaggressions as a simple social miscue. Let’s continue up the higher education ladder and find safe places, a second home, or an unofficial mentor. In the words of Emerson, “what lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”