While the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects throughout the world, resilience and innovation has created new opportunities for some people.
Kauaʻi resident Kalei Carvalho earned a master’s degree in education in learning and design and technology from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education in spring 2021, without having to leave her island. She was selected to represent the University Center Kauaʻi as its student speaker at Kauaʻi Community College’s commencement ceremonies in May.
“I realized that I didn’t have to leave Kauaʻi to pursue my bachelor’s degree or my master’s degree,” Carvalho said in her speech. “I know many of you have taken your first online course within the last year. Like you, my journey exposed me to new and different skill sets throughout all my distance learning that helped tremendously for my master’s project.”
In 2021, 44 degrees across 23 distance education programs were awarded to Kauaʻi students. Students receive degrees or certificates awarded by the UH campus offering the program of study. These distance education programs allow students to “learn at home” as many students are not able to relocate to a neighbor island to pursue an education because of obligations including work, children and eldercare. Graduates often continue to reside and work on Kauaʻi upon graduation.
An increasing number of students on Kauaʻi have pursued UH distance learning degrees, from 147 in 2019 to 185 in 2021. The majority of students are enrolled at UH West Oʻahu (48%), followed by UH Mānoa (46%) and UH Hilo (6%).
“The University Center Kauaʻi is such a valuable resource to Kauaʻi residents because we provide students with comprehensive individualized local support to help them navigate their distance education journey,” said Rhonda Liu, an educational specialist with the University Center Kauaʻi. “I think it is important for people to know they don’t have to relocate to pursue a certificate, bachelor’s degree or higher as there are opportunities to earn their degrees online and hybrid through the University of Hawaiʻi campuses.”
UH distance learning opportunities
Distance learning gives students access to education through audio, video and computer technologies without having to be physically present in the same location as an instructor. Students can earn a four-year or master’s degree from campuses system-wide with support from these University Centers.
- Hawaiʻi Community College–Pālamanui in Kona
- University Center–Maui in Kahului
- University Center–Kauaʻi in Līhuʻe
In addition, students may also receive support for a degree or certificate through campus-sponsored UH Education Centers.