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College Snags $10 Mil For Child Care, Science

Windward Community College just got the go-ahead to develop a long-awaited child care center on campus. The nearly $10 million federal grant also will support renovations of the college’s STEM-related facilities, inside and out.

“We’re so excited, it’s hard to sit down,” WCC marketing specialist Bonnie Beatson declared Oct. 15. “For years, we’ve had no child care; it’s a huge issue for student parents trying to get their college degree.”

The Student Parent Center would offer Hawaiian Immersion child care as well as a parent counselor and textbook library. The concept was developed by a student-parent group at the college.

“If a student does not have reliable care for their child, how can they attend classes, study and succeed in college?” asked vice chancellor for academic affairs Ardis Eschenberg, who also wrote the grant and will direct the project.

While the U.S. Department of Education Title III grant — $9,901,624 over five years, to be exact — will bring relief to student parents, it also aims to boost studies in science, technology, engineering and math, particularly for the school’s Native Hawaiians, who make up 42 percent of its enrollment.

The project grant is called “Hanai a ulu: Feed and Grow — Nurturing student parents and STEM at WCC.”

“With more STEM degrees and certificate programs being offered,” noted WCC chancellor Doug Dykstra, “advanced learning experiences are essential.”

Among other programs, the college recently introduced an agripharmatech certificate of achievement, which incorporates classes on Native Hawaiian botany and plant use. Grant input for STEM improvements came from the school’s Natural Sciences department staff.