Leeward science degree opens door to STEM careers, saves money
Leeward Community College student Ashley Sanchez plans to major in oceanography.
Fellow Leeward student Zach Dweese aspires to be an engineer.
Both are taking advantage of a science program at Leeward CC, where students who earn an associate in science in natural science, receive automatic admission to any four-year college in the University of Hawaiʻi System—Mānoa, Hilo or West Oʻahu.
“It fits right into what I need to do to in order to finish my bachelor’s degree, even into the master’s program,” said Sanchez.
“I really like the fact you can automatically get into the College of Engineering at UH, it’s really great,” said Dweese.
The program covers all of the basic core requirements in three tracks—engineering, physical science and life science.
“Once they finished their first two years here, they will be able to go directly into the program without reapplying,” explained Roger Kwok, a Leeward CC assistant professor in chemistry and science. “That is a really great benefit.”
The degree opens the way to a wide range of possible majors like chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, pre-medicine, biology, botany, electrical engineering and more.
There are other benefits in addition to a smooth transfer.
“The reason why I came to Leeward was because I didn’t want to pay triple the amount for my classes,” said Dweese.
“It’s a lot cheaper, it is way closer to home,” added Sanchez. “The staff here, they are amazing and the professors here are brilliant.”
Experienced and dedicated, the professors and instructors are able to offer students individual attention.
“We have much smaller classes,” said Kwok. “So instead of having a lecture hall filled with 200 students, we actually have maybe 20 students in your class.”
“Right now, my physics class has maybe less than 10 people and the professor can be personal with each student,” said Dweese. “It feels great to have that kind of attention.”
There is also a study room, tutors and a lot of peer support for students—all hallmarks of the UH Community Colleges.
“There is always that support that helps them get through those hurdles and actually move forward together as a group,” said Kwok.
Most importantly, they leave Leeward prepared.
“We have always heard back from our students that when they get into the program at UH, they feel like they are basically right there with them and able to compete at a higher level,” said Kwok.
Any potential student interested in science should seriously consider Leeward Community College.
“For myself, I wasn’t prepared to start off at a university,” explained Sanchez. “I know a lot of other students were the same way. I think it is just the best thing that you can do for yourself.”
“I didn’t expect the college experience here to be so great,” said Dweese. “My teachers are all awesome and I really enjoy going to class here.”