Jul 26, 2012

Path to Student Success Widens with New Hawaiian Studies AA Degree

Students in KCC's Hula and Chant course ready to perform.
At its May 12th 2012 meeting, the University of Hawai`i Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve a new associate of arts (AA) degree in Hawaiian Studies. The degree, now included in the American Liberal Arts curriculum, is open to all students at UH Community Colleges and will be offered at Kaua`i Community College beginning the upcoming Fall 2012 semester, which begins Monday, August 20.

“This is an important milestone for two reasons,” stressed Helen A. Cox, KCC Chancellor. “Firstly, the UH Community Colleges campuses across the state together developed this degree, so students who move between campuses will have no trouble to complete the degree. It’s a strong program of study due to the combined expertise at the campuses. Secondly, the new degree is a very important doorway for students to access higher education by being able to focus on studies that are important and relevant to them,” said Cox.

Dennis Chun, KCC faculty in Hawaiian Studies was a key contributor in the community colleges collaboration, which made the AA degree a reality. Proactively, KCC was the first campus to offer an Academic Subject Certificate in Hawaiian Studies.

The degree “is designed for students to transition directly into a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program at UH four-year campuses. Since the AA in Hawaiian Studies has the same general education requirements as Liberal Arts, students can transfer to any Liberals Arts major at UH Manoa, UH-Hilo, and UH-West Oahu. That’s important because having an AA degree in Hawaiian Studies will attract students who want to challenge their interests. Once they know what to do, transferring is an easy transition. This could be the first of many concentrations to come for other Liberal Arts programs of study. And, any AA degree is a great gateway to any Bachelors degree program.” explained James Dire, KCC’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

The world will open up for students. “For us here at KCC, our strengths and expertise rest with our Hawaiian Language, culture and values for harmonious living, Ethnobotany, Hula and Chant, Lo`i cultivation, and Polynesian voyaging and navigation courses,” said Chun. “Even if our students pursue other career and education choices, they will have a solid foundation in Hawaiian Studies, which will enrich not only their personal lives, but also their career. Our intention of this program has always been to infuse students with the importance of having a knowledge of the culture, history, and language of this place we call home, for knowing your home one will be able to venture forward beyond perceived boundaries,” reflected Chun.

“It is our vision that the values and information learned in this program will enrich the students’ lives and lead them to apply their knowledge and energies to protect and enhance their homeland of Hawai`i and, by extension, themselves,” echoed Molly Ka`imi Summers, KCC faculty.

Students participate in campus activities with Kumu Pua Rossi (2nd row, in green).
Puali`ili`imaikalani Rossi, graduate of KCC and currently a member of the college faculty, tells her own story. “As a first-time college student, I was very nervous about how I would do. I wanted to be successful and also take classes that were of interest to me. I took a lot of Hawaiian Studies classes from Kumu Dennis Chun, Kumu Molly Ka`imi Summers, and Kumu Brian Yamamoto and found that I really enjoyed school. I learned how to be a college student. I learned how to study, how to write papers, and how to benefit from all that college has to offer. Because of KCC, I did well in a four-year college. There will be career opportunities that were once unavailable to our island and our people in cultural resource management, sustainability, politics, business, education, the tourist industry, as well science and mathematics. The degree will give our students confidence,” said Rossi. Imagine an Urban Planner with an AA degree in Hawaiian Studies.

Posted by:
Cammie Matsumoto

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