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Three students
Amaya Hoʻopiʻi-Baptista, Ryllah Rodrigues and Tower Vergara

Three high school seniors at Lānaʻi High and Elementary School (LHES) have earned associate’s degrees in liberal arts from the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. By the time they completed the fall 2020 semester, Amaya Hoʻopiʻi-Baptista, Ryllah Rodrigues and Tower Vergara had each earned 60 or more college credits toward their degrees.

The three students enrolled in the Dual Enrollment Program (known as Dual Credit) in the ninth grade. This allowed them to simultaneously earn college and high school credits. They took three to four college-level classes per semester and one to two summer courses over four years through this program. Instructors at UH Maui College and LHES are extremely proud of their accomplishments, especially because the students earned their associate’s degrees well before graduating from high school, saving their families thousands of dollars in tuition.

Future plans

Hoʻopiʻi-Baptista said she hopes to attend a university on the west coast to study psychology. Rodrigues has her sights either on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa or a university in Washington, and wants to major in elementary education. Vergara would like to attend school in Boston or on the west coast to study business and marketing.

The newly-minted college graduates expressed gratitude to UH Maui College, Pūlama Lānaʻi”>Lānaʻi, The LHES Foundation and Project Hoʻokui for the scholarship opportunities these organizations provided them. They also thanked their parents for their love, support and faith, and for believing in their ability to accomplish what they had set out to do.

Contributed by Natalie Ropa

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