Tales of scholarship benefits punctuate event

PUHI — Excellence in work performance, work attitude, and service to the college earned Margie Blackburn honors as The Kaua’i Community College Student Employee of the Year.

This program, founded by Frances Dinnan of the KCC Financial Aid office, honors a student employee on campus, and the awards are presented at a special reception hosted by the college.

Scholarship donors as well as scholarship recipients have an opportunity to meet each other at this function that is highlighted by refreshments created by another facet of the college — the culinary arts department.

KCC Chancellor Peggy Cha expressed the college’s appreciation for the community scholarship donors.

“KCC appreciates all these people who step forward to say ‘we believe’ in the students who are taking education to form a new life for themselves as well as the community,” Cha said. “We’re also proud of our students who are the recipients of these scholarships.”

“Scholarship donors recognize that students are our future, and have taken the step to give back and invest in the students,” she said. “KCC is blessed to be one of the leaders of the University of Hawai’i system where we, based on percentage, have the most students being helped financially.”

Jo Duvachelle, representing one of the scholarships, symbolized how, after her own 20-plus years of teaching at the college, continues to give back in the form of the Josefina A. Cortezan Endowed Scholarship.

Cortezan was Duvachelle’s mother who was brought to Hawai’i from the Philippines in the early 1920’s as a registered nurse to bridge the language and cultural gap in the care for the health needs of sugar plantation workers.

Duvachelle was one of the early college graduates earning her degree from the University of Cincinnati some 30 years later. The University of Cincinnati was the first collegiate school of nursing in the United States.

In 1967, Duvachelle was recruited to start the nursing program at KCC where she taught for over 20 years, and still managed to find time to earn a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1982.

“I didn’t want to teach,” Duvachelle joked. “And, I didn’t want to get married. That’s why I became a nurse.”

That was not the case for KCC Nursing student Marlo Alapalelei who was one of the student speakers expressing her appreciation to scholarship donors.

Alapalelei said, “At 36, I’m still a student, going the road of being a mother and getting married out of high school.”

Through several life experiences, Alapalelei said her dream of becoming a nurse surfaced. After caring for a 90-year-old elder and her own children helped her realize her dream of wanting to be a nurse, she realized she was holding down three jobs. Alapalelei said she decided she would try and better her position in life.

Crediting the staff in the KCC Financial Aid office with helping her, Alapalelei started her path to a Nursing degree in 2001, and through the generosity of the scholarship programs, she is currently going to school while holding down just one job, and still caring for her family.

Alapalelei said scholarships have helped her pay for her tuition, uniforms, and school books.

Cha said the Outstanding Student Employee is appropriate for the event because student employment is a form of financial aid for students who recognize that higher education can be a costly endeavor in their life.

Dinnan and a selection committee of KCC staff, faculty, and student representatives determine the nominees for the honor that comes with a financial aid package including a tuition waiver for the fall semester, a University of Hawai’i bookstore certificate, a Car Care Certificate, and inclusion on the perpetual Student Employment Plaque.

Blackburn has been a student assistant at the Learning Center for the past three years. Her duties include answering phones, making appointments, helping students, and filing.

Her employers described Blackburn as possessing integrity and commitment that complement her expertise in whatever responsibility or task assigned to her.

“Her kindness, sensitivity, and commitment to helping everyone who comes to the Center are both refreshing and integral to the myriad of productive activities she enthusiastically performs as a Learning Center staff,” her nomination states.

KCC Bookstore cashier Hope Rabang was the second nominee honored, and her form notes that “her job includes stocking the shelves, answering the phone, filing, and merchandising products. She is friendly and helpful to the patrons of the bookstore, and is dependable, conscientious, shows initiative, and demonstrates her ability and willingness to learn.”

Ken Curtis, doing the Master of Ceremonies duty for the reception, added, “Ms. Rabang accepts direction and change easily and cheerfully. Just check out that great smile.”

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