Almost 1,000 public high school 2020 graduates are already taking free University of Hawaiʻi Community College Career Exploration courses, earning college credits and becoming eligible to apply for $2 million in Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarships at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) in July 2020.

The June 19, 2020 deadline to sign up to take the last free Career Exploration class is fast approaching, and interested graduates are encouraged to go to the Next Step: Career Exploration website (, which includes a list of frequently asked questions. They can also email or text “nextsteps” to (808) 460-8360.

Bryson Maghinay
Bryson Maghinay (right)

Career Exploration classes are available on a first come, first serve basis. Students can develop their career plans and identify their next steps toward their career goals, whether to enroll in college, seek employment or both. Bryson Maghinay, a Kailua High School graduate, decided to enroll to “keep myself on my toes academically”

“It helped ease me into a college environment. So now, when I do actually start community college, I’m more comfortable,” Maghinay said.

Students enrolled in the free online Career Exploration classes are already learning how to navigate college, explore career options and discover the education and training available to help them reach their career and life goals.

How Career Exploration works

In a recent online class involving students from across the state, guest instructor Pualiʻiliʻimaikalani Rossi-Fukino, a Kauaʻi Community College assistant professor, asked students to reflect on where they are from, where they currently live and their values.

Annicah-Marie Hong
Annicah-Marie Hong

“The kind of work that we are doing helps me with college,” said Annicah-Marie Hong, a Pearl City High School graduate. “It’s also helping me to find the kind of person I am, so that I can gear myself towards a career that will be best for me.”

Kapolei High School graduate Shai Paige found out about the Career Exploration class from his Teacher Learning Academy counselor, after taking 23 Early College credits from UH West Oʻahu since his junior year in high school. He said the Career Exploration class’ personality assessment was very helpful, and now he is considering becoming a teacher.

“I feel like it’s good for a lot of us incoming college freshmen,” Paige said. “College is obviously a way different environment from high school, so I think it’s a nice way to kind of ease into everything.”

Kauaʻi CC Assistant Professor William Dressler has been working as a student success counselor for more than a decade. He enjoys being able to connect with students from across the state through the Career Exploration classes and help them develop a sense of purpose and direction.

“You are going to be a lot happier if your career plans are lined up with what you value because technology may change and market demands may change but your values will remain constant,” Dressler said. “So that’s what I really try to focus on in the beginning with them.”

Stronger Together Hawaiʻi and scholarship opportunity

Shai Paige
Shai Paige (center) and his family

The UH Community Colleges and Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education are co-sponsors of the Next Steps to Your Future initiative. Hawaiʻi P–20’s Summer Advising Initiative helps students to make informed critical decisions toward achieving their post-high school goals. Advisors will guide students through their summer transition toward college or career, including nudging messages through a texting campaign, building on a Hawaiʻi P–20 pilot project previously implemented in a few high schools this year. The Next Steps initiative is generously funded by UH partners at the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaiʻi Resilience Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Strada Education Network, The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation and the Stupski Foundation.

Students who participate in the free summer advising program will also be eligible to apply for the Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarships. Students may sign up for advising by texting “nextsteps” to (808) 460-8360 or signing up at

HCF will award the Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarship on a case-by-case basis, and funding can cover traditional educational expenses, such as tuition and books, or other emergency expenses. Online applications will be available in July, for students who have completed a UH Community College Career Exploration class or participated in Hawaiʻi P–20’s Summer Advising Initiative, and updates will be posted on the HCF and UH Next Steps websites.

First Hawaiian Bank and HCF provided the seed funding for the Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarship Fund. Organizers hope other donors will contribute, enabling the fund to help a greater number of students affected by COVID-19 this year and students who are in need in future years. Donations to the Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarship Fund can be made to HCF online.

—By Kelli Trifonovitch

online classroom
UH Community College Career Exploration class