Tuesday, June 28, 2022 |
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LIHUE — Angela White is a single mother who couldn’t pay to fix her car when it kept breaking down.
“The car not only kept breaking down, I couldn’t afford to fix it when it did,” said White, one of the first, and only female, students graduating in the new National Automotive Technicians Educational Foundation certification program. “My goal now is to help other single parents and the elderly who can’t afford to fix their cars. My church already has plans and asked if I could teach a class on automotive maintenance.”
White was one of the 370 students, including 45 who completed distance courses from the University of Hawaii West Oahu, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Hawaii-Hilo at Kauai Community College who earned a degree or completion certificate Friday at the Vidinha Stadium.
Gordan Talbo, honored with the Board of Regents Medal for Teaching Excellence, headed the new program which graduated 10 students in its inaugural class. The medal was presented by Regent Tom Shigemoto with help from KCC Chancellor Helen Cox and came with a $1,000 cash award.
“I just started working at Wayne’s Auto Repair, and the course was definitely helpful,” said Casey Swanson. “I could ask the instructors for help when there were situations where I needed help.”
Talbo, who along with Wes Pacanas and Daryl Gerardo lead the class, said the program gets automotive technology students ready to work in entry-level positions in eight ASE areas of diagnostics.
Lisa Rapozo, being the first member of her immediate family to earn a college degree, was one of two student speakers, thanking the Waialeale Project for making the college experience possible in her life. Shyla Ayau, receiving her bachelor of arts in public administration and certificate in disaster preparedness and emergency management, was the other.
Olena Heu, an anchor and reporter with KHON2 News since 2007, congratulated the graduates and their families. A child of a single parent growing up in Kilauea, Heu, a graduate of Kapaa High School, said she has never lost her pride of growing up a Kauai girl, and remembered the arduous journey of her career. Heu encouraged everyone to set goals and achieve them.
Luther Yam earned his share of automotive mechanics technology degrees, and was also a member of the NATEF certification program as well as a recipient of the Garden Island Racing Association academic award.
“When the economy slowed down and construction stopped, I decided I would look at a career change,” Yam said. “The journey was very educational. This week was my turn. Next week, my daughter Kristen graduates from Kapaa High School. This was definitely worth it.”
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