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Onward and upward

LIHUE — Crystal Cruz said her mother will be pleased when she participates in the Kauai Community College 50th annual commencement Friday at Vidinha Stadium.

“I’m getting my degree in electrical installation maintenance technology,” Cruz said. “I’m also getting two other certificates, one in facilities engineering maintenance and one in Cisco networking. My mother will be happy because she said I need to have something to show after 10 years.”

About 175 students are expected to be in the graduation. KCC will be conferring an anticipated 381 degrees and certificates for the spring semester starting at 6:15 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium. The commencement also encompasses 66 degrees and certificates earned during the summer 2014 program and the 2014 fall semester, where 162 students earned degrees and certificates.

“This is such a special time of the year when we get to see students who we have watched working hard all year, sometimes really struggling to balance school and the rest of their lives, walk across the stage with the glow of accomplishments clearly illuminating them,” said KCC Chancellor Helen Cox. “We really get to know our students and when they take that walk, we feel such excitement and pride for them.”

Registrar Kailana Soto said the number of degrees and certificates being presented is more than the 292 presented in the 2014 commencement.

“Our enrollment numbers may be down,” Soto said. “But they are earning their degrees and certificates. A lot of the students, such as Cruz, are earning multiple degrees and certificates.”

John Constantino, an assistant professor and counselor, said the EIMT degree being earned by Cruz is the first graduation of that class after being restarted. He said she was the only female in the class.

“This is a very special graduation,” Constantino said. “Kauai Community College is celebrating its 50th anniversary after starting from a technical school in Kalaheo. Golden anniversaries are always special.”

Malia Nobrega-Olivera, Native Hawaiian educator and representative of LAMA (Climate Change, Climate Alert), will be the keynote speaker.

“I personally love to see all of our students at this moment of transition, having accomplished something important and taking the next step into their life,” Cox said.

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