A former prison inmate, a single mother of two, a former foster child, these are current and former Leeward Community College students who have persevered and triumphed with the help of a training program that provides access to thousands of dollars in support for food, transportation, books and other expenses.
However, the students say the real difference made by the HINET, Hoʻola Ike (gift of knowledge) program for college and workforce training was the emotional support and belief it instilled that they could succeed. Here are their inspiring stories of educational transformation.
Former foster child
One would never know, meeting Ayshialyn Sabado, of the challenges she was up against during what she calls “rough childhood” as a foster child. Sabado said taking classes in art and acting at Leeward CC gave her the focus and drive that were instrumental in earning an AA in business management.
Sabado credits HINET with helping her to become the poised and confident young woman she is today. She credits the program for giving her the opportunity to explore classes that sparked her interest.
“Having the opportunity for somebody to refund and help me with books was a big thing, because I’m not working right now,” Sabado said.
She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu.
Working mother of two
Sanoe Jury knows firsthand the importance of having a strong support system. While raising two children under the age of two, studying as a full-time Leeward CC student and working part-time as a physician practice coordinator at Queen’s Medical Center, Jury had to deal with the unfortunate passing of her mother. She worried about how she was going to survive, but discovered HINET and soon realized that help was available to struggling students.
Jury said the program, her children and her Leeward CC counselors, “held me accountable to what I had to do” as she navigated classes for skills such as medical coding.
The program has acted as a liaison for Jury and provided assistance, so she could pursue an associate of science degree in health information technology. She is on track to graduate in spring 2022.
Former prison inmate
57-year-old Christine Gaudette said, “It is never too late to better yourself and get your life straight.” Originally from Kahaluʻu, Gaudette was placed in foster care at the age of 10 years old. When she was 17 years old, she committed a serious crime and ended up in prison for eight years. For the next few years she was in and out of prison until one day she decided it was time to choose a different life.
Gaudette began taking classes at Leeward CC’s Waiʻanae Moku Education Center. In her second semester, financial problems hit, and she was prepared to drop out. If it wasn’t for her counselor telling her about HINET, Gaudette would have probably returned to her old way of life. Instead, the program paid for her books, Interactive Digital Access Program, Internet service, and gave her the encouragement she needed to continue attending college.
“(HINET Coordinator) JoAnn Cagasan was always there for me whenever I needed help, and, if her department couldn’t help, she would point me in the right direction and send me the information on who to contact. She went over and beyond the call of duty,” Gaudette said.
Gaudette said she will always remember and be grateful for HINET as one of the reasons she was able to earn her associate degree from Leeward CC and is now on her way to earning a bachelor’s degree.
To learn more about HINET, across the UH Community Colleges in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services, visit HINEThawaii.org. For assistance at Leeward CC, contact Cagasan, at email@example.com or (808) 455-0563.
—By Susan Lum