PUHI — Excitement and frustration are the yin and yang of the first day of classes, and both were apparent on Monday, the first day of classes for Kaua‘i Community College’s fall semester.
“I can’t help it,” said Mark Bonilla, a second-year student at KCC. “Seeing the parking structures with no parking is always exciting to me. I parked way over on the field, and I’m seeing a lot of new faces and different kinds of students.”
KCC Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Earl Nishiguchi was excited about the fall enrollment while dealing with computer issues, which kept him from communicating with the University of Hawai‘i system.
“We’re up 16 students compared with the 2010 fall semester,” Nishiguchi said. “I’m not sure how the other campuses are doing because the computers are acting up, but earlier in the year people were saying they did not expect large increases in enrollment.”
Nishiguchi said KCC is hosting late registration for students through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are no extended hours to accommodate the late registration.
“If the pattern holds, we should have more than 1,428 students enrolled following late registration,” Nishiguchi said.
When the doors opened Monday morning, KCC had an unofficial 1,390 students on campus, up 1.2 percent from opening day of 2010 when 1,374 students were recorded.
Nishiguchi said overall the community college system is showing a slight decrease of 93 students, or .3 percent decline, unofficially; three colleges marking decrease in enrollment and four posting increases.
The University of Hawai‘i community college system opened with 33,178 students statewide on Monday. A more detailed report will be available once the late registration period is completed.
Fiare Moe, a graduate of Waimea High School, was one of the students feeling her way on campus during the first day of school.
“We have more than a handful of students from Waimea High School who graduated in June,” Moe said. “I’m in liberal arts and most of the students are in liberal arts with some in culinary arts.”
Nishiguchi said the trend for student enrollment is about 20 percent of the graduating classes from Kaua‘i’s high schools opting to take their liberal arts requirements at KCC.
“The breakdown is about 52 percent of our students are in liberal arts,” he said. “The remaining 48 percent is spread over the technical courses like nursing and culinary arts.”
KCC Chancellor Helen Cox was thrilled the enrollment was in the black.
“At least we didn’t go backwards,” she said. “I’m really happy enrollment in the Waialeale Project is up over last year.”
Cox said after checking with the coordinators, enrollment in the project is at 84 students compared with the 41 students in last year’s program.
“The Waialeale Project is geared for students who would otherwise not consider college beyond high school,” she said. “The success of this program means we’re reaching people who had not considered education beyond high school.”
Agriculture and sustainability
Another aspect which pleased Cox was the hiring of two new positions: Eric Knutzen as the director of Ho‘ouluwehi, or The Sustainable Living Institute of Kaua‘i, and Sharadehandra Marahatta as the agriculture faculty.
“These are two major new hires for the college,” Cox said. “These are new positions and should help us to move forward.”
Knutzen’s position — which had been anticipated earlier this year — fills the need for sustainable living, an issue mentioned by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on many occasions.
Part of Knutzen’s realm overlaps with Marahatta, who was brought in to develop an agricultural program, Cox said.
Cammie Matsumoto, the KCC Professional Development and Community Outreach coordinator, said the college is working with Marahatta’s help on developing programs in aquaculture, composting and even worm culture.
“We’re excited about having Sharad, as he likes to be called, as part of our staff,” Cox said. “He recently earned his Doctorate from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and has worked in other communities, developing agricultural programs.”
‘Healthy Food’ for thought and taste
Cox said they hired Turquoise Santos as the head of the Healthy Food option for the cafeteria. Santos comes from a strong background at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort culinary department and as a graduate of Kaua‘i High School and KCC culinary arts program.
“My former teacher called me just last week,” Santos said from behind her station, offering one hot entree and one cold choice. “I came in, prepared some samples and was hired. Things in the culinary arts department has changed quite a bit since I was in school, and I’m excited.”
Cox said construction on renovating the old bookstore is underway and should be completed by the next semester to allow more space for the culinary arts program.
Duane Miyasato, instructor for the culinary arts program, is also excited to announce the start of the popular Fine Dining program starting Aug. 6.
The program allows the public to enjoy the work of culinary arts students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with seating starting at 11:30 a.m. Due to its popularity, reservations are recommended by calling 245-8365.
“Students will be working with Continental Cuisine from Aug. 30 to Oct. 6,” Miyasato said. “We have a break and offer Asian Cuisine from Oct. 25 to Dec. 1.”
Noel Mock, manager of the KCC Bookstore, said the bookstore will also offer extended hours Monday and Tuesday only until 5:30 p.m., an additional two hours over its normal 3:30 p.m. closing.
“We tried opening on Saturdays, but it was not feasible,” he said. “Instead, we’re doing extended hours today and tomorrow.”
On the main concourse, Nicole Morris and Jeff Mones, first year students and recent graduates of Kaua‘i High School were searching out the Social Sciences building for their first class at KCC.
“It’s really confusing and exciting at the same time,” Mones said. Both young students, liberal arts majors, shared excitement while adding that going to college is a little better than high school because you don’t have to wake up as early.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.