New Program at Kapiolani Community College will Change Lives

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BY MARGOT SCHRIRE – Thanks to generous support from the Kaneta Foundation, 21 Hawai‘i students are enrolled in a new program at Kapi‘olani Community College and receiving a transformative college experience. Through the King William Charles Lunalilo Scholars Project, students who had not previously considered higher education a viable option due to financial or other barriers participate in a summer bridge program and then a first year experience program at Kapi‘olani CC.

Mona Lee, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Kapi‘olani CC said, “We hope to change students’ lives through the Lunalilo Scholars Program. By offering this opportunity to individuals who have high academic potential but had never enrolled in college because of economic or personal barriers in their lives, the Lunalilo Scholars program will focus on persistence through the first year.” Lee continued, “Upon completion of this one-year program, we expect that the students will continue their commitment to their academic and personal goals while pursuing a degree or transferring to a baccalaureate campus.” Lee concluded, “Our donors’ generous support allows students who may not have considered KCC or any other college to have a unique experience in college, supported by faculty, staff and peer mentors committed to their success. Because we know that financial issues are a great concern to our students, the college’s financial aid program will supplement what students receive from our donors’ generous gift commitment to reduce the need for them to take out loans or work additional hours at their jobs.”


Kapi‘olani Community College Chancellor Leon Richards added, “Truly this scholarship will make a difference and change the lives of our students, especially those students who may not have ever been given any attention. When I read the students’ applications describing their life stories, it appeared many times to be a series of starts, stops, and neglect. Their plight touched our hearts and we began outreach programs to help secure their educational experience.” Richards continued, “But it is the foresight and generosity of Lester and Marian Kaneta that provide the needed encouragement to the students. Their support is like a safety net so that the students may take this educational adventure and make the most of it. Students are being given a new start in life and the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Lester Kaneta, co-founder of the Kaneta Foundation added, “The King William Charles Lunalilo Scholars Project gives Marian and me the opportunity to combine our support of human services and community development with that of educational support through scholarships.” Kaneta continued, “Most of us have plans to go to college from a very young age. It is ingrained in us through our parents, teachers, friends and relatives. But there are a number of folks who do not receive this kind of support. They are told that they lack the funding, or that they are not smart enough, or that they ’just don’t have what it takes.’ Through this new program, lives will be changed. We are grateful to be part of this project.”   A 2010 College Board study has shown the benefit of the 13th year of education increases lifetime earnings by as much as 11% beyond the level of high school graduates.

Below are quotes from a few of the Lunalilo scholars

“I am from O‘ahu, Palolo Valley born and raised. I am very family oriented and have a 4 year old son. I attended Kaimuki High School and graduated in 2001. If I had not been selected for this program, I would probably still be working my part-time retail job, which will not let me move closer to a career. I had to overcome working dead-end minimum wage jobs that would not let me climb up the corporate ladder. Also having to be a single parent for some time, I had to learn how to work around my child’s schedule. I am very thankful for this opportunity and so honored to be a part of this scholarship program.”

“I live in Kalihi Valley and work as a transport in Straub Hospital. If I hadn’t received this scholarship, I would still be working as a transport, working construction as my second job, and saving money until I would be able to attend college. Through this program, I am hoping to become a radiologist.”

“I graduated from a school where a lot of people underestimated us. They underestimated me because of where I’m from (Waimanalo) and I feel that I proved a lot of them wrong because I was on the Honor roll from sophomore year until I graduated. During my senior year I worked for the majority of the year and still kept up my grades. This scholarship has been extremely helpful financially and educational wise. It’s helping me to brush up on my math and writing skills. I have also been learning about my Hawaiian culture and it makes me feel proud to attend KCC. I hope to one day become a physician specializing in either geriatrics or oncology and be someone my family and friends can be proud of.”

To learn more about how you can support Kapi‘olani CC please contact Linh Hoang, director of development for Kapi‘olani CC at (808) 734-9570 or

You can also make a secure gift online at


The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.





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