Keoki Kerr Headlines Press Club Scholarship Dinner on May 5

Keoki Kerr Headlines Press Club Scholarship Dinner on May 5

Award-winning reporter Keoki Kerr will be the featured speaker when the Big Island Press Club holds its annual scholarship dinner on Thursday, May 5, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Seaside restaurant in Hilo.

Founded in 1967, the Big Island Press Club is the state’s oldest and most active media organization in the state of Hawaii. Every year the organization provides more than $4,500 in scholarships to students pursuing careers in journalism or a related field.

Cashman Aiu, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and president of the New York University Hawaii club is this year’s Bill Arballo $1,000 scholarship winner. Alex Bitter, a UH-Manoa student and graduate of Waiakea High School, has won the $600 Yukino Fukubori Memorial Scholarship for his newspaper work at UH-Manoa and the Wall Street Journal. Writing for the UH-Hilo college paper “Ke Kalahea” newswoman Hannah Hawkins won the $1,000 Marcia Reynolds award while her sports writing colleague, Eric Vega took the new Hugh Clark scholarship for $500. Clark, who passed away last year, was a founding member of the press club. Kealekehe High School valedictorian, Sabrina Pike won the $500 Jack Markey scholarship while Keaau High School valedictorian Savannah Directo won the $500 Bob Miller scholarship.

“A core function of the Big Island Press Club is to support the next generation of journalists,” said Denise Laitinen, president of Big Island Press Club. “With the help of very generous donations and prudent fiscal management, our organization is able to provide thousands of dollars in scholarships to students every year. Some of our previous recipients are still active in journalism decades after receiving scholarships from BIPC.”

Headline speaker Keoki Kerr spent more than 30 years covering news in Hawaii. Earlier this month he announced he was leaving the news business to work at the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), where he will handle internal and external communications for the public school teachers’ union.

Before joining the HSTA, Keoki spent the past four years as an investigative and government reporter at Hawaii News Now, Honolulu’s NBC and CBS television affiliates. At HNN, Keoki broke several significant stories about Big Island issues, including the plight of two fire battalion chiefs placed on leave for speaking out about alleged mismanagement by the fire chief, high student fees at Hawaii Community College in Hilo where few extra services existed, problems with a Honoka’a principal who was later replaced, the ouster of the Kulani Prison warden and a manager at the prison who quit after she was being investigated for having inappropriately close relationships with inmates.

Prior to his work at Hawaii News Now, Keoki spent 26 years at KITV, Honolulu’s ABC television station, most recently as an investigative and enterprise reporter.

Since 1995, Keoki has won 20 first-place awards in a statewide Society of Professional Journalists contest for investigative, government, business, breaking news, general news and enterprise reporting.

The scholarship dinner features prime rib and macadamia-crusted mahimahi. Tickets are$30 for BIPC members, $35 for nonmembers. No-host cocktails will be served.

Tickets must be purchased by Monday, May 2, through Eventbrite for a small processing fee at or by mail to Big Island Press Club, P.O. Box 1920, Hilo, Hawaii 96721. For further information on the Big Island Press Club, visit

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