VIDEO: Hawaiʻi Community College celebrates 75th anniversary at scholarship fundraiser

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo considers Hawaiʻi Community College one of its most important partners in bringing access to higher education to the people of the island and state.

Members of the Hawaiʻi Community College ʻohana, including alumni, faculty, staff and community members celebrated the college’s 75th anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 7, while also raising money to support student scholarships.

The Hawaiʻi CC Alumni and Friends Scholarship Fundraiser Dinner and 75th Anniversary Celebration attracted support from the community in the form of ticket sales and donations, and the proceeds will help students achieve their dreams of a college education.

“As we celebrate Hawaiʻi Community College’s 75th anniversary, it is wonderful to see the community support for our students,” says Hawaiʻi CC Chancellor Noreen Yamane. “For 75 years we have helped students gain the skills and knowledge they need to lead successful lives, but it would not have been possible without such a strong community as our foundation.”

Hawaiʻi CC was founded in 1941 as the Hawaiʻi Vocational School with five trades programs and 183 students. The college has continually evolved to meet needs of employers and students, and Hawaiʻi CC now offers 26 academic programs and has more than 3,000 students enrolled in Hilo and at the new campus in Kona named Hawaiʻi Community College–Pālamanui.

With programs such as natural science, auto mechanics and early childhood education, students can prepare to enter the workforce right after graduation or easily transfer to one of the other University of Hawaiʻi campuses, including the adjacent University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

In the last 23 years alone Hawaiʻi CC has awarded more than 10,000 degrees and certificates, and in the last two years the college has awarded a higher number of degrees and certificates than ever before: 685 in 2014 and 643 in 2015.

The fundraiser

Matthew Chow, David Lassner, John Morton and Noreen Yamane.
Matthew Chow (right) receiving his honorary certificate from (l-r) UH President David Lassner, Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton, and Hawaiʻi CC Chancellor Noreen Yamane.

The fundraiser on Saturday featured speeches, a silent auction, a vintage fashion show and the recognition of an alumnus who enrolled the very first year the college opened in 1941.

Hawaiʻi CC awarded Matthew Y.P. Chow an honorary certificate during the event. Chow, an 89-year-old Hilo resident, enrolled in the welding program from 1941-1943. He never received his certificate, however, because a curfew imposed from sunset to sunrise as a result of World War II prevented a commencement ceremony from taking place, he said.

“It brings back a lot of memories, old time memories of my attendance at Hawaii Vocational School back in 1941-43,” Chow says.

With his welding skills, Chow worked for two years at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard during World War II. After the war he obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked for more than 20 years as a biology teacher at Hilo High School.

Hawaiʻi CC Alumni and Friends will use the proceeds of the fundraiser to create an endowment that will provide student scholarships.

“Hawaiʻi CC Alumni and Friends is committed to helping students who may not otherwise be able to afford a college education,” says Robert Yamane, president of Hawaiʻi CC Alumni and Friends and a professor at the college. “Mahalo to everyone who donated. Your gift will make a difference in the lives of our students, their families, and our entire island.”

UH System News