LIHUE — Angela Corpuz can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I graduated from Kauai High School in 2009,” said Corpuz, president of the Kauai Community College Nursing Club.
“I graduated from Heald College with a medical assisting degree and entered the nursing program before the college failed. I came back home and it took me more than a year just to get the prerequisites out of the way. But I went straight through and now, I’m just a final away from graduating. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Corpuz was among the 351 KCC graduates celebrating their commencement Friday evening at Vidinha Stadium. Music was provided by the KCC Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra.
The 52nd annual commencement exercises represented 238 graduates from the 2017 spring semester, including University Center graduates, 90 graduates from the 2016 fall semester, and 23 graduates from summer 2016.
Lori Barretto and her daughter, Ashley Relacion, were among the 10 students receiving their Certificate of Competence, School Health Aide.
“This is historic,” said Dana Hazelton, the KCC instructor for the course. “This is the first and only class offered by Kauai Community College. The college received a grant to provide this course, but the money dried up so this is the first and last class. These students are great. They all worked their butts off and ended with As.”
Barretto is sad about the development because all of the graduates are already working in schools around Kauai.
The commencement exercises also served to announce Dr. Georgeanne Purvinis as the recipient of the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award by Regent David Iha. The announcement drew Purvinis from the ranks of clarinet players in the symphony.
Kylie Kuhlmann, Sateki Taulanga and Doreen Caberto delivered the student messages, and Crystal Cruz, an instructor with the Construction Academy, was featured as the keynote speaker.
“I feel grateful to graduate,” Taulanga said. “I receive my associates degree in liberal arts. I’ll transfer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall to continue to pursue my major in communications.”
Kuhlmann, a graduate of Kauai High School, said she always wanted to play the piano, but was put in a business class.
“I tried business, but that’s not what I wanted to do,” Kuhlmann said. “I got into the hospitality class, and through my schedule of managing my jobs and classes, discovered that I want to be in human resources. Every place I worked is a step toward where I want to be. O ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kukulu — First comes the foundation, then comes the building.”
Caberto said she dropped out of high school at 17.
“I became homeless and lived in my car,” said the graduate, who earned a bachelor’s in business administration accounting. “After 10 years, I hit rock bottom. I looked at my children’s eyes and that turned my life around. Now is a time to start practicing what I have learned — not to stop learning.”
Taulanga said, “This chapter closes, and another one begins.”