by Fredrene Balanay, Ka La staff

This article was published in the Ka La’s February 2014 printed edition.


Of the many programs and degrees offered at Honolulu CC, the Communication Arts program is one of the few that combines art and technology.

“It’s about visual literacy,” said Sandy Sanpei, Honolulu CC’s Communications Arts faculty representative and program liaison. “And in this day and age it is just as important as any other field of study.”

According to Sanpei, the program is specifically designed to encourage creativity and responsibility for one’s work.  “In this profession if you miss your deadline, your client can and probably will sue you. Also, if there is a mistake you will probably have to pay the bill,” she said. “However, nothing compares to the satisfaction of seeing your work, your creation in its completion.”

Over the past 15 years students in the Communication Arts program have participated in the American Advertising Federation Competition.   Up until a year ago, Honolulu CC was the only two-year degree program participating in this competition geared toward four-year degree programs or higher.

Nonetheless, out of the 15 competitions entered, Honolulu CC has taken home 10 Pellet awards as winners of this competition. When asked her secret to success, Sanpei responds, “It’s the students.”

“The mindset of the students, as in most art-type programs, is they are very caring,” Sanpei said. “They share with one another. Also, some students are so talented they encourage and inspire others to be their best.” “Students should come prepared to work,” Sanpei advises new students who are entering the program.

HonoluluCC Communication Arts Program

“In the first two semesters you will focus on learning the software. It’s difficult to conceptualize or create when you are fighting with the computer.”

Other expectations of the communication arts program include a nontraditional sense of lecture and course work.

The assignments are designed to mimic projects and situations as expected in the real world, and the lecture courses go beyond bookwork and classroom discussion.

And as with these career oriented situations, students should expect to put in time outside of class to complete their work and ultimately succeed.

However, for fourth semester student Alex Kawamoto, “Communication Arts is not only about communicating. It’s about creating, networking, and competing to be the best at what you do.”

Kawamoto who came to the program in 2011 as a transfer from the Santa Barbara Art Institute of California reflects on his semesters here at Honolulu CC, “Academically, it’s a two-year program but has been a better experience than the program I came from in California.” Kawamoto’s decision to enroll at Honolulu CC came unexpectedly.

“It was my senior year of high school,” the Mililani graduate recalls.  “I remember speaking to a recruiter and soon found myself in California at the Santa Barbara Art Institute after graduation,” Kawamoto continues. “After a year in that program I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for. I was doing well in all my classes and had a pretty impressive GPA but in reality I was just not happy.”

With the support of his parents in his decision to return home, Kawamoto’s mother informed him of another option to consider regarding his education.

“It was my high school teacher, Todd Yoshizawa, that suggested the program here at HCC,” Kawamoto said. “I was enrolled, registered and ready to go by the time I returned from California.”

When asked what a first time student should expect and prepare for, Kawamoto said.

“Your instructors are there to help you. They are there to take your creation to the next level, to improve the quality of your work and prepare you for a competitive industry. You must be able to take criticism at a professional, not a personal, level.”