A record nine-member Academy for Creative Media (ACM) cohort graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in May. Among them was Arabela Grace Llamelo, the first ACM graduate from Lānaʻi, who earned her associate’s degree entirely online.
“Taking ACM Maui has been a journey and experience that I am grateful for. I got to discover courses that pique my interest and would see myself doing as a career or hobby. And I also got to meet professors that are wonderful and were a great help and inspiration in what I want to do in the future,” said Llamelo, who also earned an Outstanding Graduate Award.
An immigrant’s story
Llamelo said her family grew up poor in the Philippines.
“They spent their time farming on the rice plantation and doing everything they could to survive with the resources they had. When they were given the opportunity to go to Lānaʻi to work at the pineapple plantation, they packed up what they had and were shipped to Hawaiʻi. This opportunity was a way to have a better life for themselves, their future children and grandchildren.”
After high school, Llamelo was not thinking about going to college. However, she was interested in graphic design and illustration and was always doodling or drawing.
“After talking with my peers, I was told to give graphic design a try in ACM Maui to see if I like it or not. And after taking their advice, I ended up enjoying the program and continued attending UH Maui College,” she said.
Pathway to a career
Llamelo recalled, “At first, I was contemplating whether or not to take the career pathway relating to art, which I enjoy doing. But after talking with the professors and taking their courses, I am confident to say that I want to pursue a career that is art or art-related, such as illustration or graphic design.”
In the fall, Llamelo will begin working on her bachelor’s degree in general creative media at UH West Oʻahu. The campus will be gaining an inspirational model student.
“All of our instructors speak her praises,” said ACM Program Coordinator Brian Kohne. “We hope more talented island creatives like her throughout Maui County will consider pursuing their dreams at ACM Maui in the coming year.”