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Keaau student will earn HCC degree before graduating high school

A Keaau student has set a high bar and will earn a community college degree before she graduates from high school.

Karley Lucas-Medeiros, 17, is a senior at Keaau High School and currently is finishing an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Hawaii Community College as a way to get ahead in her university education.

After completing her final two classes this week, Lucas-Medeiros officially will have 60 transferable college credits under her belt.

“I always thought that what you can do today, you should do today,” Lucas-Medeiros said. “If you want to get ahead, you can’t just stick around in the same spot.”

Lucas-Medeiros started the program in August 2019 by taking one early admission college class in her first semester of her sophomore year.

After doing well in school and managing her time, she decided to keep going by taking two college courses in her second semester before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and distance learning began.

“I had nothing to do with my life during COVID. There were no sports, and online school was more relaxed,” Lucas-Medeiros said. “I feel lost when I’m not busy, so I wanted to take more classes.”

Because COVID-19 paused many parts of her life, Lucas-Medeiros continued her college education by taking four classes over the summer in 2020.

Throughout her junior year, which was mostly spent online, Lucas-Medeiros took 10 college classes.

“Sometimes, she was so done with everything, but then she would take a break, cry, and was ready to start again,” said older sister Dajahvon Ferreira. “One thing about Karley is that she’s super determined. If she sets her mind to do something, she will make sure she accomplishes it 100%.”

“Honestly, my support system at home is always motivating me to keep doing it,” Lucas-Medeiros said. “That, and envisioning what it would be like in the future after I was pau with all of this.”

Lucas-Medeiros and her parents are now looking at universities on the mainland, where she wants to major in psychology for her undergraduate degree, and then major in political science in a master’s program.

She also hopes to get a scholarship for softball where she could be an active player on the roster.

“I look at sports as a getaway from education,” Lucas-Medeiros said. “When I do sports, it takes my mind off everything. It taught me a lot about how I can dedicate myself to so much and still proceed to do what I have to do.”

Lucas-Medeiros was born in Waianae on Oahu and moved to Keaau with her family at 9 years old to take care of her grandparents. Although she has a close relationship with her family, they all have encouraged her to go to the mainland for college.

“I feel if I don’t leave now, I’ll never have a reason to go, because this place is my home,” Lucas-Medeiros said. “I want to experience part of the world while I can and eventually bring my education back.”

After accomplishing this milestone, Lucas-Medeiros hopes to inspire other students in high school to take the leap and try to get ahead while they can.

“I really feel that anyone could do this with the right mindset and motivation to get things done,” Lucas-Medeiros said.

While thinking about their daughter, Lucas-Medeiros’ parents, Jeanette and Michael, began to tear up.

“Her heart is just always fully there in everything she does,” Jeanette said. “She is 100% dedicated to her education, her passions and her family.”

“I can’t even say how proud I am,” Michael said.

HCC will not be holding a winter semester graduation, so Lucas-Medeiros plans to attend the spring graduation on Friday, May 13, 2022, followed by the Keaau High School graduation on Friday, May 20, 2022.

Email Kelsey Walling at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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