Debbralee Hi’ilani Shibata
Hawaiian Culture Educator
Class of 1993
By Nicole Tabandera
Debbralee Hi'ilani Shibata, grew up in Hilo, and graduated from Waiäkea High in 1993. She works at the Bishop Museum as its Education Operations Manager and is in charge of all the Education Department’s programs, including all tours of the facility. She manages both full time and part-time staff. The Bishop Museum is the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific, preserves Hawaiian Culture and history and also focuses on science, as is evident when you visit the brand new Science Adventure Center with its erupting volcano and cutting edge exhibits. Hi’ilani demonstrates volcano experiments to visitors.
She attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated with a BA in Hawaiian language. During high school, she worked at the Hilo Lanes Café. During college, she worked at the student housing department of UH Manoa as an office assistant. By her senior year she worked part-time as a Hawaiian language teacher at Kailua Intermediate School and sold koa furniture at Martin & MacArthur. Five and a half years ago, she began a part-time job at the Bishop Museum, where she was promoted three times and has been the education operations manager for two years.
While at Waiäkea High, Hi’ilani served as sophomore and junior class president and was the Homecoming chairperson during her senior year. She remembers stringing a huge flower lei around the quad with each flower signed by a student. The theme in 1993 was “E aloha kekahi I kekahi,” Love one another.