East Hawaii News

Hawai’i CC Celebrates Anniversary, Honors Alumnus

November 9, 2015, 9:50 AM HST
* Updated November 9, 10:17 AM
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Hawai’i Community College celebrated its 75th anniversary over the weekend.

On Nov. 7, Hawai’i CC faculty, staff, alumni, and community members gathered to not only celebrate the college, but also to support students by raising money for scholarships through ticket sales and donations.

“As we celebrate Hawai‘i Community College’s 75th anniversary, it is wonderful to see the community support for our students,” said Hawai‘i 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.”

Hawai’i CC was founded in 1941 as the Hawai’i Vocational School with five trade programs and 183 students. Currently, the school has more than 3,000 students and 26 academic programs in Hilo and at the new Hawai’i CC – Pālamanui campus is Kona.

More than 10,000 degrees and certificates have been awarded in the past 23 years, and in 2014 and 2015, the school awarded 685 and 643 degrees and certificates, respectively, bringing the school to new highs.

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On Saturday, the anniversary celebration featured speeches, a silent auction, and a vintage fashion show.

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Alumnus Matthew Y.P. Chow was awarded an honorary certificate during the weekend event. The 89-year-old Hilo resident enrolled at the college during its first year of operation in 1941, where he enrolled in the welding program.

Chow said he never received a diploma, although he completed the program in 1943, because a curfew law imposed from sunset to sunrise during World War II prevented a commencement ceremony.

“It brings back a lot of memories, old time memories of my attendance at Hawai’i Vocational School back in 1941-43,” Chow said.

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Chow spent two years at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard during World War II after acquiring his welding skills. When the war ended, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked for over 20 years at Hilo High School as a biology teacher.

Money raised during the fundraisier will be used by the Hawai’i CC Alumni and Friends to create an endowment that will provide scholarships to students interested in attending the school.

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

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