Mechanic School Hawaii – Personal safety measures are still in place in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. See /covid-19 for more information on what needs to be done to stay safe.
A group of Kealakehe High School students begin their college careers through a unique collaboration with Hawaii Community College. Back row, left to right: Xander Loyola, Chase Fernandez, John Nakata, Damon Pertubal, Camryn Cam. Front row, left to right: Chris Ibarra, Justin Bankud-Nishihara, Titon Rivera, Rizaya Botelho, Ken Takeishi.
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Kealakehe High School senior John Nakata recently visited the school’s auto mechanic shop and thought about the time he and his teammates had spent over the past two years learning how to rebuild engines, disassemble transmissions, and learn other auto mechanic skills.
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Nakata is one of nine graduating students from the unique program, a collaboration between Kialakehe High School and Hawai’i Community College, designed to fast-track students into automotive careers.
From their early years, students earned “dual credits,” meaning both high school and college credits for automobile mechanics and general education courses from CC, Hawai’i. As a result, by the time they graduate high school on Friday, May 28, they will have completed one year of college and will be halfway through earning a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Mechanics Technology from Hawaii CC. .
Hawai’i CC offers many early college dual-credit courses at Hawai’i Island schools. Typically, these classes are in the liberal arts. This is the first time that Hawai’i CC or any college in the state of Hawai’i has offered a comprehensive career and technical education program as part of Early College.
One of the students, Chase Fernandez, says she loves to “start over” and that knowing this is her career path motivates her.
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“Now I know this is my future because that’s the job I want to be, so if I want to be in this job I have to stay focused and do my job,” Fernandez said.
The program was created to address some of the challenges faced by students and the local automotive industry. Western Hawai’i students interested in auto mechanics may have difficulty enrolling in the Hawai’i CC program in Hilo because they will have to drive or secure housing, which can be expensive.
“This is a unique program designed to serve career-focused students who want a hands-on program in Kona,” said Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, interim director of Hawai’i Community College – Palamanui. “It’s also designed to support our Western Hawaii businesses by educating potential employees in this community. ‘Oh, Palamanui kahi e ho’omaka ai ka huaka’i (Palamanui is where the journey begins).”
Chris Ibarra, an auto mechanics teacher at Kealakehe High School and a Hawai’i CC graduate, said it was logistically challenging to align the program with Hawai’i CC’s curriculum requirements. But he said it was worth it and the cooperation of all stakeholders made it possible.
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“Our vision is to create an opportunity for interested students and prepare them for the automotive workforce in the community through this early college program,” Ibarra said. Said. “I think our students are very lucky to have the support and collaboration of Hawaii P-20, Stupski Foundation, Kamehameha Schools-Kyulike-Palamanui Grant, Ēlama Project Scholarship, Hawaii Community College, Hawaii Community College-Palamanui. , Kealakehe High School, and Western Hawaii Automotive Enterprise. Through this program, we hope to help fill the need for automotive mechanics and technicians in our community.”
“Our goal through this program is to make college more accessible and to create pathways that prepare students for certifications and experiences for high-demand careers on the Island of Hawai’i,” Jackson said. Said.
Now that students are ready to graduate, the goal is now to complete the second year of Hawaii CC Society in Palamanui with the Chemistry 100 requirement and internships at local businesses in Kona.
Next fall, a second group of Kealakehe youth will set off on the same path. Students wishing to participate can contact high school or Chris Ibarra at [email protected] Personal safety measures are still in place in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. See /covid-19 for more information on what needs to be done to stay safe.
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Harold Fujii, Associate Professor of Automotive Mechanics and Head of Department, right, and instructor Chris Ibarra, center, leads graduates to earn their diplomas.
Eight Hawaii Community College automotive mechanical technology students are on their way to graduation as participants in an innovative pilot program, the first of its kind in the state of Hawaii.
One year after high school, these students graduated May 14 from Hawaii Community College – Palamanui Campus in Kona with an Applied Science (AAS) degree in Automotive Mechanical Technology (AMT).
They now have a college degree, work experience and are prepared for a job market where their skills are in high demand locally.
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“It was a really great experience,” said one of the graduates, Titon Riviera. “I learned a lot and that opened me up to the automotive world.”
Another graduate, Ken Takeishi, said that he learned a lot, made good friends, and that graduating was a long-awaited goal.
“It came pretty fast,” Takeishi said. “I’m very happy because I finished college and I always dreamed of getting a college degree.”
Alumni were part of the Kealakehe High School Automotive Mechanics Early College pilot program, a partnership between Hawai’i P-20 Partnerships in Education, Kealakehe High School, Hawai’i Community College, and a Kona automotive business.
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The program was launched in 2019 to meet the needs of local students and the Kona community. Due to the distance from the Hilo campus of Hawai’i CC, on which the AMT program is based, very few students on the west side of Hawai’i Island enroll in AMT, leading to a shortage of qualified automotive technicians in the Kona area.
“This program is a creative solution that supports the needs of local businesses while providing valuable skilled trade education to West Hawaii youth,” said Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, director of Hawai’i Community College – Palamanui. “It was really a community effort. Mahalo to all concerned.”
The AMT Early College program allowed these students to jump-start their college degrees while still in high school. In 2019, they started earning college credits at KHS as a junior; By the time they graduated from high school in 2021, they had completed about half of their degree requirements; and, this past school year, they completed their AAS degrees through work-based learning at Kona automotive stores and classrooms on the Hawaii CC – Palamanui campus.
Early college classes have become more common in recent years, allowing high school students to take courses that meet the requirements for a high school diploma and college degree. What makes the AMT Early College program so unique is that it focuses on career and technical education, is cohort-based, and prepares students for specific careers with a proven need in society.
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Hawai’i CC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas said the AMT program is part of the trend to offer earlier college CTE programs in Hawai’i CC to support college and career plans for Hawai’i Island high school students.
“During the initial introduction of the university, we saw that we were not able to reach as many high school students who did not go to university as we would like,” Solemsaas said. she said. “By offering high schools technical education programs such as early college careers and Automotive Mechanical Technology, we can reach a diverse group of students who can see a university path in their hands and give them a boost in their college and career journeys.” »
In addition to AMT students, 18 students from Ka’u High are receiving agricultural certification from Hawaii KC this year. Hawai’i CC’s early childhood education program has also partnered with local high schools in the Early Learning Career Paths Project and is in talks to add early college pathways in the carpentry and culinary arts.
Solemsaas said the ultimate goal is to increase the rate at which Hawaii high school graduates attend college and improve career mobility by allowing them to earn degrees and certificates.
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AMT students would not have graduated from Hawaii CC without the support of many organizations, including Kona Automotive Enterprise. The original plan was for students to complete their degree at Hilo after high school, but this was impractical when the COVID-19 pandemic began. A Kona automotive business has been activated to provide students with on-the-job learning opportunities.
Kealakehe High School and Hawaii CC auto mechanics instructor Chris Ibarra said the business is important partners and provides students with valuable experience.
“The business and relationships we’ve built in the community have been very helpful as students gain the full store experience through hands-on training and the added pressure that comes with it,” Ibarra said. Said.
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