LIHU‘E — For the first time, Kaua‘i Community College celebrated its commencement exercises at Vidinha Stadium before several hundred ecstatic family, friends and fellow students Friday.
The KCC commencement ceremonies outgrew the Performing Arts Center, where it normally was held.
Earl Nishiguchi, the chancellor of student affairs, said there were more than 200 students eligible for graduation, and nearly 200 planned to participate in the commencement exercises, which meant they needed a bigger facility to host the festivities.
“Commencement is a new beginning,” said University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood. “This is your new beginning. I was once a scared 18-year-old with a son I raised alone a few years later. I am here because of the kindness of people. Don’t ever be afraid to get the kindness of other people.”
Jim Lally, one of the founders of the Wai‘ale‘ale initiative at KCC and a philanthropist, dug into his pockets to ensure no one is denied access to higher education because they have a financial problem.
He was a keynote speaker at the commencement ceremonies, offering advice to the graduates with a common message: “Listen to your heart. Just trust yourself, and do it!”
Holding a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University, Lally started his career in technology as a practicing engineer in advanced thin film research. He also worked at Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Currently, Lally is actively involved with education in Hawai‘i at the Kohala High School on the Big Island and the University of Hawai‘i. He is a trustee at the UH Foundation and is helping to build the Hawai‘i Community College campus at Palamanui on the Big Island.
Other inspirational messages were delivered by three student speakers, Max Matola, representing career and technical education, Tiger Kahaunaele, who received her associate in arts degree in liberal arts, and Kasey Fernandez, who, through the distance learning program, received her master in education in educational technology.
Loni Delaplane, an instructor in math, was presented the Excellence in Teaching award by Greenwood and Kaua‘i Community College Chancellor Helen Cox.
Visit www.kauai.hawaii.edu for more information and course registration information at the Kaua‘i Community College.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.