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Arabela Llamelo with a sample of her work

Although she had not planned on attending college, Arabela Llamelo took a chance that led her to become the first University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Academy for Creative Media (ACM) graduate from Lānaʻi or Molokaʻi. Llamelo was raised on Lānaʻi and completed her coursework completely online.

“At times it can be challenging and quite lonely, but overall, I enjoyed the courses I took, the projects I worked on and was able to finish at my own pace in my own time,” said Llamelo. “I focused on graphic design because it relates to what I’ve been doing for years, drawing/doodling. I ended up really enjoying the program. The professors are wonderful and were a great help and inspiration in what I want to do in the future.”

UH spring 2023 commencement schedule

Llamelo plans to continue her studies at UH West Oʻahu toward a bachelor of arts (BA) in general creative media, and work as a graphic designer or illustrator in the future.

Animation opportunities

Beginning with the fall 2023 semester, students interested in animation may pursue an associate’s degree at UH Maui College via ACM. Animation and filmmaking graduates may transfer to UH Mānoa for just two additional years of in-person study to earn a BA at the UH Mānoa ACM: School of Cinematic Arts. Previously, transfer students would have needed two-and-a-half to three additional years. As the top four-year film school in the Pacific, it places an emphasis on diversity, inclusion, collaboration and Indigenous visual storytelling.

“Animation is more than cartoons and big-budget CGI motion pictures like Marvel or Pixar,” said ACM Program Coordinator Brian Kohne. “The form now merges the traditional art and technology at the heart of Virtual Reality and Video Game Design, now even larger industries than cinema. It’s where the majority of high-paying media/entertainment jobs are, but to compete for that work one must attain a four-year degree and acquire a daunting array of media skills. We can now provide our students a foundational beginning to their careers, right here on Maui.”

ACM System Founder and Director Chris Lee added, “All of us are proud and excited for Arabela Llamelo’s achievements and as an example of the opportunities for students from across the islands to seamlessly articulate to a bachelor of arts at UH West Oʻahu in Creative Media through ACM’s unique systemwide program. I am also deeply grateful for the support of Chancellor Lui Hokoana in developing ACM Maui College under the terrific leadership of Program Coordinator Brian Kohne.”

Currently ACM graduates, such as Llamelo, may transfer to UH West Oʻahu—either in person or online—to earn a BA in two more years.

For information visit the UH Maui College ACM website.

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