When Jodi Kauhi celebrated her graduation from Hawai‘i Community College on May 14, she
rolled through the drive-thru commencement in Hilo with balloons floating above her car and a
big picture attached to her window.
It was a huge moment for her. At 57-years-old, Jodi is the last surviving member of her
immediate family since her mother, father and brother have all passed away.
“My mother’s last wish was for me to go back to school and graduate and attend church,” Jodi
said, adding that she is fulfilling both parts of that request.
She’s also the only member of her family to graduate from college.
At commencement “I felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and started to cry as I
could hear in my mind my family cheering me on,” Jodi said. “Seeing my teachers Claudia
Wilcox-Boucher and Robyn Kalauli and my advisor Grace Funai, who stuck by me from the
beginning of my academic journey, all cheering me on and stopping the car to congratulate me
felt so good.”
Jodi is one of 536 students to graduate from Hawai‘i CC this past year. She earned a Certificate
of Competence in Hospitality and Tourism, and is continuing her education in an accelerated
online associate degree program through Leeward Community College.
Jodi has spent her life as a caregiver for children with special needs — she works for BAYADA
Home Health Care in Hilo — and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood
Her story is a reminder of the value of higher education, the accomplishment that graduation
represents for our students, and that it’s never too late to strive for more and accomplish new
“You can be any age and still follow through on your college dreams, no matter what,” Jodi said.
Our students bring with them unique experiences that shape who they are, shape who we are
as a college, and make Hawai‘i CC an amazing place to learn.
Dozens of other graduates have gotten a jump start on college by earning degrees and
certificates while in high school through our “dual credit” early college programs. You can read a
story here about a Hilo High School valedictorian who earned an associate degree from Hawai‘i
CC while in high school and about a unique early college automotive mechanics program at
Kealakehe High School.
To join in the celebration of our graduates, you may watch the webcast of our virtual
commencement which includes names of graduates, a kipaepae, keynote address and student
Congratulations to all Hawai‘i Community College graduates!
Important to our students’ success are our faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. At the
end of each year, Hawai‘i CC and the University of Hawai‘i system recognize our outstanding
faculty and staff. This year’s awards recipients are:
● Mahalo Award (which goes to a valued community partner), Aloha ʻĀina Economic
● Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, Tanya Dean, Assistant Professor of English
● Alumni of the Year Award, the late William “Billy” Kenoi
● Innovation Award, Alan Ku, Testing and Technology Support Coordinator
● Outstanding Service Award, Thatcher Moats, External Affairs Coordinator
● Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Luria Namba, Biology
● Chancellor’s ‘A’a’li’i Award, Joni Onishi, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
● Outstanding Lecturer Award, Siniva Pota, Business Education and Technology
● Outstanding Staff Member Award, Stephen Schulte, Information Technology Manager
Congratulations to the awardees!
Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas