Financial aid represents hope for many KCC students

PUHI — About 80 percent of the students who attend classes at the Kaua‘i Community College also work, said Chancellor Peggy Cha.

“Scholarships are essential to the students’ success in college, and the dedication shown by these students who work match the support demonstrated by the community,” Cha said.

Honoring the KCC Student Employee of the Year demonstrated this aspect of student life to donors of the college’s many scholarships.

“Finances is one of the barriers to college education,” said John Morton, the vice president for community colleges. “Sometimes students have to return to work because they need money, and the scholarships help keep the students in school.”

Morton said KCC is the smallest of the seven community colleges within the University of Hawai‘i system, but the smallest college has more student support, financially, than some of the bigger community colleges.

“There are 170 students at KCC who get financial support,” Morton said. “That amounts to about 17 percent of the enrollment, totaling about a quarter of a million dollars in aid.”

That point was brought out two nights earlier when KCC representatives pointed out that lack of money is one of the six leading reasons why students do not go to college.

Nalani Vidal, a KCC Nursing student who will be receiving her credentials as a Registered Nurse at the commencement in two weeks, said, “How do you begin to thank those who have made it possible for students to spend time with studying and having some quality time with family?”

Cha said she is impressed with the amount and the depth of support shown by the generous donors who make it possible for students to attend KCC.

“This is an investment in the future of the whole island,” she said to the large gathering of representatives of the various groups and individuals who have established scholarship programs and endowment funds with the KCC Foundation.

Former provost and secretary to the Board of Regents David Iha and his wife Shirley have recently established an endowment fund to benefit KCC students.

“As a youngster, I went to Koloa School and Edene Vidinha was one of my teachers as well as the pianist in church,” Iha said. “When I needed help creating a speech, I went to see her for help.”

But through the Antone and Edene Vidinha Foundation, there are hundreds of students who benefit from her, Iha said.

Anna Sloggett, Shirley’s second-grade teacher, established a fund on her 100th birthday to help students.

Ed White, a former provost of KCC, left his estate to help the college.

“There are many others who leave their estates to help the college,” Iha said. “This represents an investment in the students here.”

He said while growing up, he was one in a family of nine children, and when he wanted to pursue higher education, the other siblings supported his decision.

“Next week will be another commencement,” Iha said. “This is where you see the joy and celebration in the students’ achievements. It is the support of the community that provides hope for these students.”

Wilmark Geronimo, an automotive technology student, said he is the beneficiary of several programs which enable him to continue his studies with the goal of one day becoming a certified mechanic and possibly opening his own business.

He is a second-year student and with the help has been able to amass the tools of his trade, which he says he uses in class, at home and on the job.

The Scholarship Reception allowed KCC students an opportunity to meet their donors face-to-face and express their appreciation for the help they receive as a student at KCC.

For Sheryll Yotsuda, a graduate of Kapa‘a High School, she was fidgeting uncomfortably as virtues of her work habits were being read by Ken Curtis, the emcee for the event.

A student worker with Student Services, Yotsuda was one of five students selected for the Student2Student program which was explained two nights prior during the “Taste of College” event designed to help high school students and parents get a headstart on college.

That role takes her back to Kapa‘a High School where she works with students in showing them the importance of an education beyond high school.

In being announced the KCC Student of the Year, Yotsuda edged out two other nominees for the honor: Preston Garcia, who was unable to attend the event because of his classes, and Tahnee Shigematsu.

“Your sister made the paper just two weeks ago when she was named the 2008 Miss Kaua‘i Filipina,” said Rhonda Liu, a Student Services counselor. “Now, it’s your turn.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.

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