Native Hawaiians achieve life-long dream of diplomas

A quartet of motivated, Native Hawaiian kupuna recently achieved their lifelong dream of receiving high school diplomas.

Through the Competency-Based High School Diploma Program in Anahola, Hazel Yong Kawada, 76, of Hanalei; Mildred Kolo “Cookie” Chow, 78, of Niumalu; Connie Rumion Carvalho, 79, of Kapa‘a; and Lily Pia Kiilau, 69, of Hanama‘ulu, completed the program and received their high

school diplomas.

The program started in April of last year, and the kupuna met from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Kahale Pono building near Anahola, according to a press release.

In their youth, the kupuna were needed to work and help raise their families, so didn’t get the chance to finish high school and receive their diplomas.

Through their formative years, they received instruction in the real-world classrooms of the island of Kaua‘i, and were largely self-motivated and self-taught.

They learned to read and write on their own, while working and managing their homes and family lives.

The words “respect” and “work” became fundamental in their lives.

They learned by doing, and gained an appreciation for life.

Armed with their diplomas, they now are empowered to accomplish goals.

Kawada will do office work at Kapaa First Hawaiian Church.

Chow will continue traveling to Kekaha each Tuesday to learn the Hawaiian language at Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha public charter school.

Kiilau wants to find work, preferably with plants.

Carvalho has been learning the Hawaiian language on her own.

They all know more opportunities are available now that they have their diplomas.

Representatives of various agencies and organizations supported the program in Anahola, including the Kauai Community School for Adults, Kaua‘i Community College, Office of Hawaiian Affairs/Kahale Pono, the About Face program, Alu Like, Kapa‘a High School, Hawaii Advocate, and the Kamehameha Schools Post-High-School Counseling program.

For more information, call the Kauai Community School for Adults, 274-3390.

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