Solstice celebration ‘awakens’ Chamber members

PUHI — Bruce Getzan, director of the Kaua‘i Community College Office of Continuing Education and Training, welcomed the first day of summer by explaining goals for the college to the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce.

The solstices are times when we might awaken, even for a moment, a sense of the greater perspective of our journey through the universe, states a Kaua‘i Chamber/KCC flier announcing the event.

“We do what you want to do,” Getzan said, simplifying the explanation of OCET which hosted the group in its conference room Thursday. “Whether it’s bringing students from Japan, or trucking students through campus for a rocket shoot, OCET sets up programs based on what people want.”

He said the event was designed for people to get better acquainted with what KCC and OCET can do for themselves or their businesses. That was illustrated by the reconfigured conference room in which the podium was moved from the front of the long rectangle to the side, resulting in a wider but more intimate setting without losing any of the seating capacity.

“We just thought we would show them something different,” Getzan said. “But we had to wait until the Chamber gave us a count to see if it would work.”

KCC Chancellor Helen Cox said the college has grown; the 2011 Fall enrollment came in at 1,433 students compared with 1,051 in 2007. And, she added, more students are able to attain their goals with less student debt because of private scholarship donors, of which KCC has the highest level among the University of Hawai‘i community colleges.

Thirty percent of the students at KCC are Native Hawaiian. That enrollment has grown from 211 Native Hawaiian students in 2007 to 432 in 2011.

Cox said KCC also increased the number of students receiving certificates and degrees, from 135 in 2007 to 208 in 2011. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of students transferring within the University of Hawai‘i system, from 43 students in 2007 to 61 in 2011.

But with the growth, there comes a down side, Cox said, noting that about 80 percent of students who arrive at the Puhi campus need one or more remedial courses, prompting the college to offer about half of its offerings as remedial, or developmental.

“This is where we need the community’s help,” Cox said. “We’re not getting the high school students.”

She estimated that 30 percent of high school graduates leave the island for college, but asked what happens to the remaining 70 percent.

Ending on a positive note, the college turned to Peggy Lake, who assisted Getzan in offering prizes of instruction in the wide range of course offerings, including some of the emerging green and electronic fields. Lake also helped introduce members of the faculty who showed up to greet the solstice attendees.

“Because of the Chamber, I’m enrolling in Chinese with Nitta Ling,” said Dale Rosenfeld of Espirit de Corps, a prize recipient. “We have a plan to bring in Japanese and Chinese for weddings so learning Chinese is perfect.”

Gwyneth Calipjo, another of the prize recipients, agreed. Calipjo said that she, too, would be using her prize to enroll in the Chinese language offering.

Visit www.kauai.hawaii.edu/training for more information on specific course offerings, or call 245-8815. Visit www.kauaichamber.org for information on the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, or call 245-7363.

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