Hawai‘i CC-Pālamanui Hosts Drive-Through Graduation

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The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop families and friends from celebrating their loved ones who graduated from Hawai‘i Community College at Pālamanui in Kona Saturday morning.

Graduates and their families drove up in cars one at a time in front of the Hawai‘i CC–Pālamanui campus. Graduates were awarded their degrees by Interim Director of Hawai‘i CC-Pālamanui, Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, and then moved their mortarboard tassels from right to left as a symbol of completing their degree. Families took videos and photos, waved signs, cheered and honked horns during the festive event.

“There is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to congratulate and honor our students at graduation,” said Haleamau-Kam. “I personally know how that feels, and I want nothing more than for our college graduates to receive the recognition and honor they deserve. On behalf of the Hawai’i Community College administration, faculty and staff, we commend you for your resilience and perseverance through these challenging times.”


The 102 graduates earned associate degrees and certificates this year in Hawaiian Studies, Natural Science, Culinary Arts and other academic programs. But due to COVID-19, the in-person commencement ceremony that traditionally occurs in May was canceled.

Among this year’s graduates were four high school students from Kealakehe High School who earned their associate degrees through the early college program delivered by the college, which means they earned a college degree at the same time they earned their high school diploma. In addition, 12 local high school students graduated with their Hawaiʻi Lifestyles Academic Subject Certificates.

Hawai‘i CC–Pālamanui is the Kona-based campus of Hawai‘i Community College, and part of the University of Hawai‘i system. Students earn associate degrees and certificates that prepare them to enter the workforce right after graduation or seamlessly transfer to one of University of Hawai‘i’s four-year campuses to earn bachelor’s degrees.


The campus is also home to the University Center, West Hawai‘i, which provides the local support for students who enroll in online and hybrid bachelor’s and graduate degrees at UH campuses.

There’s still time to apply for the fall 2020 semester. The deadline to apply to Hawai‘i Community College is Aug. 10. To get started, visit the Hawai‘i Community College website at There is no application fee for Hawai‘i residents.

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