KCC recognizes value of scholarship programs

PUHI — Sierra Blackford’s rendering of “Someone Else’s Story” was most appropriate for the reception, Tuesday afternoon at the Kaua‘i Community College dining facility, said KCC Chancellor Helen Cox.

Blackford, a KCC student who was recently notified of her acceptance into the University of Hawai‘i School of Music, was accompanied by KCC Music Instructor, opened the afternoon with her presentation, setting the stage for the Donor Appreciation, Students Thanks and Recognized Reception.

“There is a line in the number Blackford sang which has great meaning because all of the donors of scholarships and academic awards made it possible for all the different stories for the selected students who receive scholarships and awards,” Cox said. “Donors make “Someone Else’s Story” happen.”

Cox said KCC donors make possible 38 scholarships with 237 student recipients of the various scholarships and 17 academic awards with 26 recipients of these awards.

Cammie Matsumoto, the KCC director of community relations and special projects, said a little known fact is KCC has the largest offering scholarships of all seven community colleges in Hawai‘i.

The Wai‘ale‘ale Project, initiated through the efforts of an anonymous donor, is a showcase of the successes for scholarships, Cox said.

“Kids who never thought they could go to school past high school due to financial constraints were brought in,” Cox said. “We tracked the performance of these students and they are still in school and doing as well as the general student population.”

Ho‘oulu wehi, translated to mean the Sustainable Living Institute of Kaua‘i, is another innovative program which will start in the Fall, Cox said.

“This is a cross discipline program where students in aquaponics work with the culinary program and the culinary program works with the farm,” Cox said. “Students in aquaponics question how they can help culinary and culinary students, after utilizing the product of aquaponics, compost the remains for the farm and gardening programs.”

Scholarships and financial assistance is not limited to students as the Alexander and Baldwin Foundation, as advocates and examples of professional excellence and organizational advancement, awarded a $7,500 grant to KCC in February to establish the A&B Foundation Kokua Fund, states a KCC release.

This fund will provide financial assistance to college faculty in areas such as agriculture, farm-to-table culinary arts, mechanical trades and renewable energy.

The difference between a scholarship and an academic award is the scholarship is awarded to a student to make attending school possible, Cox said. An academic award is presented to a student for outstanding achievement while attending school.

“We’re here to thank the donors who make it possible for many of our students to attend classes and create a better life for themselves and their families,” Cox said. “The second reason is for the students who are recipients of the different awards to be able to see their donors face to face and thank them.”

Landon Labrador, a KCC Nursing student, said while he was going to school in Oregon, he never had a chance to meet his donors and express his appreciation for their contribution to his education.

“They simply told us to write a letter of thanks,” Labrador, one of two student speakers, said. “They gave us scholarships, we wrote letters and hoped they would give us another one.”

Recognition of the Student Employee of the Year is yet another reason to celebrate another type of student success, Cox said.

Sala Ta‘ala and Laura Rita were both nominated for the honor, and Ta‘ala, working at the KCC Counselors Office, broke down when she was announced the 2011 Student Employee of the Year.

Among her accolades, she receives her Fall semester tuition valued at more than $1,000, a KCC Bookstore gift card and other premiums including a recognition plaque and the perpetual plaque which will be displayed at her place of employment.

“If I had known this, I would’ve worn better clothes,” the emotional Ta‘ala said while being congratulated by her office.

Kaua‘i Community College will celebrate the accomplishments of its Class of 2011, May 13 at the KCC Performing Arts Center during its annual commencement program.

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

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