Breaking Those College Barriers

The King William Charles Lunalilo Scholars are in the house — in their first year at Kapiolani Community College, that is, thanks to a grant from the Kaneta Foundation.

The 21 students have academic potential but were selected especially because of the barriers that have kept them from entering any college programs, such as being single parents, or having financial and personal problems. They will be supported in the new program by faculty, staff and peer mentors, as well as supplemental funding from KCC’s financial aid program, according to Mona Lee, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“We hope to change students’ lives through the Lunalilo Scholars Program,” she said, noting the focus for the first year will be on persistence. The students also went through a summer bridge course on campus before entering the “first-year experience” phase.

“If it hadn’t been for this program,” said a 2001 Kaimuki High graduate, “I would probably still be working my part-time retail job, which will not let me move closer to a career.” the student also is a single parent who’s juggled many schedules to make it all work out. “I am very thankful for this opportunity.”

Kaneta Foundation co-founder Lester Kaneta, with his wife Marian, said they’re pleased to be part of the Scholars Project to help reverse the direction of those who don’t have the family backing for college. “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.”

Still other Lunalilo Scholars already have declared a new optimism and confidence in their future — one aims to be a radiologist, and another said: “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.”

For more on how to support KCC, call 734-9570.