"I was completely blown away by what was going on at Mid-Pacific."
Posted on October 4, 2017 by Julie Funasaki Yuen
On Friday, September 30, Mid-Pacific trustee and alum Ron Yara '65 and wife Maggie Eaton visited Marcie Moura's 3-D animation class in the Hopwood Building where they were honored for their generous $1 million gift to Mid-Pacific. This unrestricted gift will be used to support the goals outlined in the Mid-Pacific strategic plan, Aspirations 2020. Yara and Eaton's donation was preceded by an earlier $225,000 gift to the school's Immersive Technology Initiative that provided for the 3-D animation and game design class studio expansion and the enhancement of the school's Virtual Reality curriculum.
A Mid-Pacific 3-D animation student discusses her project with Ron Yara on Friday, September 30.
"We're standing in one of two new animation studios because Ron and Maggie, as friends of the school, they believe in the importance of the arts, and the way Mid-Pacific brings the arts and technology together," says Mid-Pacific President Paul Turnbull. "They believe that digital storytellers are very important members of communities everywhere."
He went on to express gratitude for the $1 million gift to Mid-Pacific students, faculty and staff. "I can think of no greater investment to Mid-Pacific. Ron and Maggie are truly visionaries and their gift allows Mid-Pacific the greatest flexibility to provide the most relevant and innovative resources for our faculty and students. We are honored to receive this gift."
"About four and a half years ago, Mid-Pacific reached out to alumni to become more active with the school," says Ron Yara. "I came back and visited the Weinberg Technology Plaza. Paul (Turnbull) gave me a tour and I was completely blown away by what was going on at Mid-Pacific."
"I became much more engaged with the school largely because my background is technology," continues Yara. "I grew up in technology in Silicon Valley and spent 47 years working in technology, and began to appreciate the impact that technology will have on the environment that students will graduate into. I recognize the urgency to up our game."
"How are students equipped to prosper in the 21st century learning and living environment?" he asks. "So, we got involved with the school and started with Virtual Reality. And we continue to support Mid-Pacific because we believe it's very important."
From left: Mid-Pacific teachers Jennifer Goya, Marcie Moura, Ron Yara, President Paul Turnbull, Maggie Eaton, Mid-Pacific teachers Daven Hee, and Jill Johnson.
Yara has worked for notable companies including McDonnell Douglas, Raytheon, and Intel Corporation. Starting in 1984, he co-founded three high-tech companies, two of which were publicly traded. After a two-year retirement stent in 1999, he became a general partner in noted venture capital firms specializing in start-up semiconductor-related businesses. For 20 years, Yara has been giving back. He was a board member for a non-profit organization that helped create jobs and economic opportunity for small businesses in underserved areas, and mentored these disadvantaged start-up owners with business plans and his personal time. He and wife Maggie also maintain a charitable fund with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. He currently volunteers his time teaching robotics at a Vermont area public school.
As part of the celebration, Yara and Eaton were each presented with an original ceramic piece created by Mid-Pacific Ceramics teacher and renowned local ceramicist Daven Hee. Hee described how the ceramic rockets are meant to represent the toys of his childhood. "It also symbolizes and represents the launching of technology," says Hee.
Mid-Pacific Ceramics teacher and renowned local ceramicist Daven Hee shares the inspiration for the ceramic rockets presented to Ron Yara and Maggie Eaton while student Natalia Mondi looks on.
When asked how she felt about Ron Yara and Maggie Eaton's gift to the school, Mid-Pacific junior Natalia Mondi says, "The fact that Mr. Yara is able to give back to our school, and the fact that we are able to understand how much potential a Mid-Pacific graduate can have, really makes me inspired to go out into the world, make change and come back to my home base, Mid-Pacific, and help out again."
Read the September 30 Honolulu Star-Advertiser story, "Mid-Pac grad gives $1M to alma mater"