PUHI — Anne Punoho celebrated a big milestone on her educational journey, Friday during the Kaua‘i Community College 55th Annual Commencement that was, because of COVID-19 rules and guidelines, held in a drive-through format in front of the Kaua‘i Performing Arts Center.
“I never finished high school because I was working,” Punohu said. “I got through this in 1995, right after the hurricane. I started this when the COVID-19 started, and today, I get my Liberal Arts degree. I’m the first in my family. Even my daughters haven’t done this.”
Punohu was one of more than a hundred students who processed through the parking lot fronting the Daniel K. Inouye Electronics building before getting their appropriate degree from Chancellor Joseph Daisy.
“We had about 125 respondents for this graduation,” said Daisy. “But we didn’t have anything, last year because of the pandemic. This year, we invited students from the Class of 2019 and the Class of 2020 to join in the celebration.
The group of students, their families who could fit legally into a car, truck, or van, represented the 280 graduates of the 2019-2020 academic year who earned 125 Associates Degrees, and 391 Certificates.
The 2020-2021 academic year, including the Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2020, saw 300 graduates earning 133 Associate Degrees, and 433 Certificates.
“I am grateful for the ways in which the college and community came together during these challenging times, for the dedication perseverance, and resilience demonstrated and witnessed,” said Daisy. “As we look back from March 2020 through May 2021, we have experienced extraordinary challenges and levels of uncertainty. Like other educational institutions, the college responded to the restrictions necessary to ensure our students, faculty, and staff were safe. We follow CDC and University of Hawai‘i guidelines. We quickly adapted to this ‘new normal’ in which we found ourselves.”
Daisy said in many cases, the faculty pivoted to online or hybrid delivery of instruction to support students in continuing their studies through the pandemic.
“I am so proud of our dedicated faculty and resilient students,” the Chancellor said. “Our dedicated staff continued to ensure students could access student support offices and services. We provided chromebooks and other technology support to faculty and students such as enhanced WiFi in the parking lots. Our drive-through commencement is a manifestation of that dedication and resilience.”
To accommodate the limited gathering of crowds for the celebration, Kaua‘i Community College has created a special link on its web page, www.kauai.hawaii.edu/Commencement that feature links to the Chancellor’s Commencement Message, and student speakers’ speeches by Kalei Carvalho, Ticannaf “Teak” Ruby-Ano, and Johnaustin “Keiki” Keikialoha Kaohelauli‘i Kahokuloa.Additionally, the full program of graduate listings can be found at this site.