Kauaʻi Community College, one of seven community colleges in the University of Hawaiʻi System, is truly the community’s college on the island of Kauaʻi.

“Maybe more so than any of the others, only because we are the only higher education institution on this island,” said Kauaʻi CC Chancellor Helen Cox. “So we play an enormous role for economic development, as well as community development, and of course, the education of our students.”

The college’s mission is to provide open access education and training in an ethical and innovative student-centered and community-focused environment. Kauaʻi offers 29 degree and certificate programs in a wide range of subjects including sustainability, electronics, digital media, culinary arts, automotive technology, Hawaiian studies and the curriculum continues to expand.

“We’ve just increased the number of science, technology and engineering math courses that we have and programs,” said Cox.

Kauai Community College's commencement ceremony on May 17.

Kauai Community College’s commencement ceremony on May 17.

An average of 1,400 students are enrolled every semester at Kauaʻi CC and about 300 graduate each school year. The annual commencement ceremony is one of the island’s big events and the graduates, who come from all walks of life, say it is a moment they will never forget.

“It actually is a big huge accomplishment in my life because this is the first time I have actually graduated from anything and walked in a ceremony and I am 44 years old,” said 2014 Kauaʻi CC graduate Angel White right after the commencement ceremony ended. “I’m a single mom, so it was a big deal for me.”

“It actually means a lot because I have been here for two years and I took my credits and I just pumped it through. I am just so glad to be here and to get my associate degree in liberal arts is just great,” said fellow 2014 graduate Courtney Contrades.

“It’s a whole new chapter in my life,” added graduate John Delos Santos after the 2014 commencement ceremony. “After this, then, can’t wait.”

Kauaʻi CC provides a critical foundation for the next chapter for each student, whether it’s continuing on with their education like Contrades and Delos Santos—who are transferring to four-year universities—or entering the workforce, like White who plans to start working as an auto mechanic.

Whatever their plans, the graduates tip their caps to Kauaʻi CC.

“The classes are smaller and it was really a good experience,” said Contrades. “You can go in anytime and the teachers would be there for you and just give you all the help you need to get to where you needed to be, which is here today.”

“After two years over here, I am more confident going to a four-year university,” said a smiling Delos Santos.

“They are what’s going to keep Kauaʻi thriving and moving into the future,” said Cox of all of the graduates. “They really are going to change this island as they move forward.”

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