Monday, July 18, 2016

The value of helping each other

Director of Tax and Financial Compliance Jory Cummins’ connection to the university dates back to the ’80s when she worked approximately nine years at the former Hawaii Loa College. Cummins held accounting positions including Accounting Assistant and Assistant Controller.

“I left Hawaii Loa College before it was acquired by HPU in 1992,” she said.

Prior to joining Hawai‘i Pacific University in 2011, Cummins, who is a certified public accountant, held tax management positions at the former Aloha Airlines and The Queen’s Health Systems.

“My favorite job was at Hawaii Loa (College), so when I had the chance to come (to HPU) I was really excited,” she said.

At HPU, Cummins is responsible for preparing tax filings, and she oversees other financial reporting and financial compliance. She also does financial analysis for special projects.     

Although she does not interact with students on a day-to-day basis, Cummins said she enjoys working with them.

“Students are fun to be around and bring such vitality and enthusiasm,” she said. “Since I’ve been at HPU, I’ve been trying to find ways to get more involved with them.”

One way Cummins is able to support HPU students directly is through her annual spring workshop, which focuses on tax filing and reporting obligations for international students. Before her presentation, she researches which entities near the university offer free or discounted tax advice. Cummins conducts the workshop and provides this list of resources, intending to make the process easier for students.

“Taxes are hard enough for residents let alone when you’re a new student from a foreign country,” she said. “Hopefully it’s not so anxiety ridden for some as it could be.”

Another connection Cummins has to HPU is she too was a student — a graduate student — dating back to when she was an employee of Hawaii Loa College. At that time, the College had a mainframe and she would often be asked questions to help troubleshoot issues. Cummins said this is what led her to pursue a Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS), which she earned in 1990 from HPU. 

“From what I learned through the MSIS program, I can apply the flow of logic to other problems and issues and situations,” Cummins said.      

When Cummins is not working, she is a committed member of hālau hula Nā Pualei O Likolehua, which she joined in 1980. In 2009, Cummins went through ‘uniki (graduation exercises) with 12 other women, becoming a kumu (teacher) under the tutelage of the late Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Kalama Heine.

The late Kumu Hula Leina‘ala Kalama Heine
and Jory Cummins
Cummins said the function of a kumu is to train women to become teachers and leaders in their communities. The members of the hālau engage in classes, performances, cultural protocol, and service in the community. 

“By teaching and understanding our cultural practices through hula and the related oli (chant) and mele (song), we can have a dramatic impact in the communities we live in, the businesses that we work in, and the people that we interact with on a daily basis,” she said.     
Cummins demonstrates the teachings of the hālau in how she conducts herself in the workplace. These ways extend to her interpretation of the Hawaiian values — aloha, pono, and kuleana — HPU has chosen to embrace. To Cummins, the most important value is aloha.

“If you truly understand what that means to live aloha, then all the other Hawaiian values will automatically fall into place,” she said. “You will understand your kuleana (responsibility) if you live aloha and will understand your place in the total system. In the HPU community, if someone is having a difficult time, you reach out and help them.”         

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