Dr. Debbie Hippolite Wright

Dr. Debbie Hippolite Wright

Dr. Debbie Hippolite Wright

1978, Social Work
BYU-Hawaii Vice President for Student Development and Services

Dr. Debbie Hippolite Wright, a Maori-Caucasian woman born and raised in New Zealand, was recently named BYUH Vice President for Student Development and Services.

At the time she received the Genuine Gold Award, she was a Latter-day Saint Family Services Practitioner in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has also served as a social worker, mental health administrator, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, a peace advocate, and for 17 years as a faculty member at BYU-Hawaii who helped train social workers throughout the world. Her research has focused on Pacific island communities and women, family and family dynamics.

Hippolite Wright enrolled at BYU-Hawaii as a sponsored student right after graduating from the Church College of New Zealand at age 16. “I just loved people,” she says. “I loved having Asian roommates, Polynesian roommates, Caucasian roommates. It was just a beautiful training ground for me as a person, as a mother, as a professional.”

She adds that in the course of her professional life, “I have seen the impact that people from BYU-Hawaii have made in the lives of other people.

“My sense of purpose professionally is connected to the testimony that I gained at BYU-Hawaii. They’re so interconnected: We’re the Lord’s children. We have a responsibility while we’re on this earth to help each other, and that really dovetails nicely into my professional background.”

Being a BYU-Hawaii alum has had a profound impact on my life. As a 16-year-old, away from home, a foreign student, it was there at BYU-Hawaii that I gained a testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ, of His gospel being restored on the earth. Those were formulative years for me...and I believe in the profound and prophetic destiny of BYU-Hawaii and its students... I feel like I have done, and I’m doing my part.