Ishmael W. Stagner II

Ishmael W. Stagner IIIshmael W. Stagner II

B.A. English, 1961
Program Specialist for Alu Like, Inc.
Hawaii, USA

An alumnus of the Church College of Hawaii, Ishmael Stagner has accomplished many firsts in his lifetime. Before the existence of the Polynesian Cultural Center, he was one of the first male dancers in Polynesian Panorama, a Polynesian dance revue. When as a young man he heard President McKay’s prophetic dedicatory prayer, he made a decision to attend CCH and became part of the college’s first four-year graduating class. He then went on to become the first Polynesian student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah to earn a doctorate degree.

After completing his own education, Stagner spent nearly twenty years of his life helping BYU-Hawaii students gain theirs. While at the university, he helped start the English Language Institute (ELI) in 1963 and created one of the country’s first Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) programs. In addition, he aided in establishing the special education program.

“I have been in a unique setting to hear and see prophecy, and so I have made it my life’s work,” Stagner says. His presence at President McKay’s dedicatory prayer was not the last time he stood in the presence of a prophet; while a student at CCH, he was fortunate to meet Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Ezra Taft Benson. He has also been privileged to meet Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley.

Stagner is a published author, lecturer, and writer. His areas of expertise are Hawaiian genealogies, LDS Church history, Hawaii music history, hula, and Hawaiian values.

Undoubtedly, the thing I got most [from Church College of Hawaii] was my testimony that Jesus lives and that prayers are answered. Faith is the hope that things will get better. Faith allows you to see the tree when other people see the seed.