Maui News

New Program Helps Students Earn a Degree While Working and Raising Families

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The University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges are accepting applications for the spring 2020 cohort for online Liberal Arts degrees. The program is particularly helpful for students wishing to earn an Associates degree while working and raising their families.

Puanani Akaka is among the students in the program who is obtaining an online degree while raising her 4-year-old son.

“I feel that I just want it so badly, so staying motivated and determined is really what pushes me and then also looking at my son knowing that once I can get a degree, I can move forward and then I can probably get a better pay and then that will help us financially,” said Akaka.

The cohort is designed for students with few to no college credits.  Chantel Kualapai hopes completion of the program will give her greater employment options.


“At that point, thinking about going back and getting my degree because I’d been laid off a few times. Trying to get jobs where I know I can do it. But they just couldn’t put me in the programs or put me in the positions because I didn’t have a degree,” said Kualapai.

University administrators say there are currently 75 spots available for the spring 2020 cohort.

“The University of Hawai‘i’s new five-week online courses provide more options than before in how students can pursue their degree. So five-week online courses gives additional flexibility in being able to do education in a way that matches a studentʻs needs and lifestyle,” said Tammi Oyadomari-Chun, UH Community Colleges associate vice president.


Students in the program have the flexibility of taking courses one at a time, year round.

“People who have an associates degree are more likely to be able to be employed, even in bad economic times, their earnings are higher, health is better, there’s more civic engagement. Lots of other reasons to have a degree besides just what it allows in terms of economic opportunities.”

Registration for the spring 2020 cohort will close when all spots are filled.


The first Accelerated AA Online cohort started in fall 2019. Students range in age from 18 to 62, with an average age of 36.  There were almost 400 applicants for 40 spaces in the first cohort, so the group was expanded to make room for more students.

Students completing the program will earn an associate in arts degree from Leeward Community College in December 2021.

Interested students can apply online. Resident tuition is $131 per credit, and financial aid is available to those who qualify.

This fall, all seven UH Community Colleges offered a total of 49 five-week online courses, which enrolled about 1,000 students.


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