Kā La staff writer
This article was published in the Ka La’s April/May 2014 printed edition.
In March 1964, the Hawai`i State Legislature passed a law that created campus community colleges in the University of Hawai`i system through out the state. Before this system was created only a few high school graduates had the opportunity for higher education.
“Going to college was something that maybe only the top part of the high school class did,” explains University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Community Colleges John Morton. ”The likelihood that you as an adult would go back to college was rare.”
Fifty years later, hundreds of thousands of students have attended community college in Hawaii, and that achievement was celebrated at the State Capitol with all seven community colleges participated in the day’s events.
The day started with an `oli chant celebrating this momentous occasion. Then there were seven doors, each colored in a school’s color, where the chancellor of each campus opened the door allowing students to go through. This was symbolic of the journey each community college student goes through.
Honolulu Community College was there in full force from fashion tech (which provided a fashion show) to carpentry, auto mechanics, and the MELE program, which provides students the opportunity to learn about the ins and out of the music industry. One area that stood out was the information provided information on Honolulu CC’s Liberal Arts program, showing that the school is more than just a trade school.
The day’s events concluded with all seven chancellors and Vice President John Morton receiving certificates of achievements on the Senate floor, commemorating all the efforts that the community colleges have done in the past five decades.
Why is the community college system an asset? Morton summed it up best.
“We believe strongly that higher education is good not just for the individual, but good for society,” Morton said. “People get good jobs, they contribute, they become part of the fabric of this community.”
Its offices are located on the ground floor of Building 2, just around the corner from the book store.