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Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education

Kunimoto Award Winner

Tommylynn Benavente, headshot

Tommylynn Benavente

Coordinator of the Culinary Arts Program since 2004, Tommylynn Benavente has guided the program through curricular changes, major facilities renovation, community outreach, fundraising and national accreditation. Strongly committed to student success and curricular improvement, she creates enriching opportunities for her students, the program and the college.

Benavente worked with some of Hawai‘i’s best-known chefs and developed externships for students to avoid disruption of their academic progress during extensive renovations. Now an integral part of the program, externships result in fantastic exposure for the college as well as on-campus workshops, jobs and other opportunities for the students.

Benavente transformed the annual spring fundraiser into a program showcase. She re-envisioned the event to better reflect the quality of the program and its students. L‘ulu, takes place in and around the culinary facilities, with the culinary arts students taking a more prominent role alongside top chefs of Hawai‘i regional cuisine.

She also revamped the curriculum, ensuring that the program reflects the most current industry standards and aligns with other UH culinary arts programs. Credited with being a superb mentor to all new faculty members, Benevente has been instrumental in building a cohesive team at Leeward Community College.

The Masaki and Momoe Kunimoto Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Vocational Education rewards outstanding achievement and significant contribution to vocational and technical education by a community college faculty member or student.

The award was established by family members to honor the namesakes’ role in development of the food industry in Hawai‘i.

Current Winners
Go to UH News for stories on the latest honorees.

2002–2015 Honorees

Judy Toba, headshot
Judy Toba
Reese Lee, headshot
Reese Lee
Mary Goya, headshot
Mary Goya