For 12 years, the Hawai‘i High School Summer Auto Academy at Honolulu Community College has been giving high school students interested in the automotive industry the unique opportunity to hit the road to college running.

Through a generous grant from First Hawaiian Bank, the six-week program consists of an integrative curriculum in which students participate in an unpaid internship at a Cutter Auto dealership in the mornings, then attend classes at Honolulu CC in the afternoon. This summer eight students successfully completed the program and will receive four college credits toward an associate of applied science degree in automotive technology.

“This program not only exposes high school students to the automotive industry, but it gives them a unique opportunity to experience a college level learning environment,” explains Honolulu CC Chancellor Erika Lacro. “We are teaching them transferable skills that will translate in any workplace.”

Out of the eight students representing ‘Aiea, Farrington, Kaiser, McKinley, Moanalua, and Waipahu High Schools, two are enrolled in the College’s Automotive Technology program this fall.  The others will be completing their Senior year of high school or attending college at another institution.

Honolulu Community College’s Automotive Technology program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and has maintained that status since 1993.

AMT instructor Robert Silva working with Auto Academy students.

Committed Community Partners

Following the success of the program, First Hawaiian Bank has renewed their commitment to the summer auto academy through 2018 with a $22,500 grant.

“At First Hawaiian, we believe that education is the key to unlocking doors to future opportunities,” said Sharon Shiroma Brown, President, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation. “We are pleased to provide the funding so that high school students interested in exploring a career in the automotive industry can attend this Auto Academy’s 6-week course at no charge.  This partnership is creating opportunities that could lead to successful careers for our kids right here in Hawaii.”

The innovative summer program began as a collaborative partnership between Honolulu CC, First Hawaiian Bank, Waipahu High School and the Cutter Automotive Group in response to a shortage of trained workers in the automotive technology industry. Since the program’s inception in 2004, the bank has committed more than $147,500, which covers the cost of tuition, tools and supplies.
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