Maui News

291 Students Earn Degrees at UH Maui College Graduation

May 11, 2018, 4:19 PM HST
* Updated May 11, 4:53 PM
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Jessie Wallace with her son Keanu (10 ys) and daughter, Aulani (6 ys).

Nearly 300 students were honored at last night’s commencement ceremony at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, after completing coursework for a variety of degrees.

A total of 260 individuals from UH Maui College, and an additional 31 students from University Center were awarded degrees at the graduation event.

Among the graduates was Jessie Wallace, a 31-year-old single mother of two who earned an associate degree in science for electronics and computer engineering technology.

“It was incredible.  I felt proud of myself that I finally accomplished this degree,” said Wallace, who is a 2004 alumnus of King Kekaulike High School and a life-long resident of Haʻikū, Maui.

“It’s hard, it’s tiring, it’s frustrating.  I missed the kids a lot… but it finally happened.  The tunnel was so dark for so long but there finally was the light. And last night, there was music playing for us coming out of the student lounge,” said Wallace who joined in celebrating what she described as an emotional and fulfilling occasion, surrounded by fellow graduates, family and friends.

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Her four-year path to obtaining her associate degree in electronics and computer engineering technology was difficult, but she said she did it for her children. “I wanted to show my children that no matter how tough life is, you have to keep going, you can’t give up.”

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Wallace was among 200 Native Hawaiian students who received aid through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Higher Education Scholarship Program.  OHA provided $500,000 to UH for the program, which is intended to support non-traditional students (including student parents), first generation college students and students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Wallace currently works at Haʻikū Elementary School to support her 10-year old son Keanu and six-year old daughter Aulani. She’s looking to pursue a second career in the technology field and is hoping her associate degree will improve her job prospects.

The UH-OHA Higher Education Scholarship Program application deadline for the school year 2019-2020 is in November, 2018. For more information about the program, contact Dr. Joshua Kaakua at (808) 956-3252 or [email protected]

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