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Congratulations to Kaua‘i Community College Class of 2023

PUHI — Hundreds of people endured the misting rains at Kaua‘i Community College on Friday to witness nearly 140 students accept their certificates, degrees and accomplishments at the 58th commencement ceremony.

“We are so excited about the success of our students, especially during this time,” said Interim Chancellor Margaret Sanchez in a prepared statement. “We are holding the event on campus for the second year in a row, and this is a far greater amount of students participating.”

Sanchez said last year less than a hundred students participated in commencement exercises. She felt because students were provided caps and gowns this year, there was greater participation. The total number of awards was not available, but should be available in the coming days.

Students were greeted through a tunnel formed by the college’s faculty and the sounds of Sara Tochiki and the combined college wind and symphonic bands.

Student speakers Kelvin Hanzlie Ibia and Earl Dwayne Martin, representing Kaua‘i Community College, and Lexie Albita-Ruiz representing the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu campus, and the University Center at Kaua‘i Community College led the graduates to a tented seating area where they escaped the mist.

Of note, Kapa‘a High School students Ella Anderson, recently appointed to West Point by then-U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, and Toni Umalla, a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation tennis standout, were joined by Waimea High School’s Haley Zina, one of the school’s valedictorians during its graduation coming up Friday, who are among nearly 30 high school students who earned academic certificates for college courses taken through the KCC Early College program and accepting their awards ahead of graduating from high school.

“This is unheard of,” said Paul Zina, principal of Kapa‘a Middle School, former state Department of Education Kaua‘i Area school superintendent and father of Haley Zina. “We never had programs like this before.”

Sanchez was joined by University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents Kaua‘i member Laurel Loo, who got help from University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffrey Moniz and Valerie Barko, the director of institutional effectiveness and University Center Kaua‘i in presenting degrees and certificates. Among people in attendance for the ceremony were Kaua‘i County Council Members Bernard Carvalho, Addison Bulosan and Felicia Cowden.

Loo and Sanchez presented the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching Award to the college’s nursing program coordinator Maureen Tabura, an act that was greeted with hoots of joy from her students and members of the audience.

Tabura was selected for being closely tied to the commencement’s theme of He ‘a‘ali‘i ku makani mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nana e kula, or “I am a wind-resisting ‘a‘ali‘i; no gale can push me over.” The medal recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

Tabura had a dozen nursing graduates, many with decorated mortarboards, participating in the Friday commencement, and held a separate pinning ceremony on Saturday at Grove Farm Museum, the home of Mabel Wilcox, Kaua‘i’s first public health nurse.

Tabura and Sanchez also announced Kaua‘i Community College has a three-year, 100 percent pass record for nurses on state licensing tests.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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