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student graduate with diploma

Graduates of the Hawaiʻi Community College–Pālamanui campus in Kona celebrated their achievements during a drive-through graduation ceremony on Saturday, August 1.

Graduates and their families drove up in cars one at a time in front of the Hawaiʻi CC–Pālamanui campus. Graduates were awarded degrees by Interim Director of Hawaiʻi CC– Pālamanui, Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, and then they moved their mortarboard tassels from right to left as a symbol of completing their degree. Families took videos and photos, waved signs, cheered and honked horns during the festive event.

Due to COVID-19, the in-person commencement ceremony that traditionally occurs in May was canceled. Thirty-two graduates participated in the drive-through event.

student graduate with family behind in car
student graduate with family behind in car

“There is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to congratulate and honor our students at graduation,” said Haleamau-Kam. “I personally know how that feels, and I want nothing more than for our college graduates to receive the recognition and honor they deserve. On behalf of the Hawaiʻi Community College administration, faculty and staff, we commend you for your resilience and perseverance through these challenging times.”

A total of 102 graduates earned associate degrees and certificates this year from the Hawaiʻi CC–Pālamanui campus in Hawaiian studies, natural science, culinary arts and other academic programs. Among this year’s graduates were four high school students from Kealakehe High School who earned associate degrees through the early college program delivered by the college, which means they earned a college degree at the same time as their high school diploma. In addition, 12 local high school students graduated with Hawaiʻi Lifestyles Academic Subject Certificates.

Hawaiʻi CC–Pālamanui is part of the University of Hawaiʻi system. Students earn associate degrees and certificates that prepare them to enter the workforce right after graduation or seamlessly transfer to UH four-year campuses to earn bachelor’s degrees.

The campus is also home to the University Center, West Hawaiʻi, which provides local support for students who enroll in online and hybrid bachelor’s and graduate degrees at other UH campuses.

There is still time to apply for the fall 2020 semester, the deadline is August 10 and there is no application fee for Hawaiʻi residents.

—By Thatcher J.P. Moats

student graduate receiving diploma

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