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For the first time since 2016, the University of Hawaiʻi hosted a graduation ceremony to honor the graduates from the Friendly Isle.

Grad flashing shaka

This cherished tradition, usually observed every four years, had been delayed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The graduates are UH Maui College students who attend classes at the UH Molokaʻi Education Center and/or online.

Between 2021 and 2024, the center awarded 47 associate degrees and 52 certificates. Forty-two of the graduates participated in the 2024 commencement ceremony on May 10, which honors Molokaʻi residents who earned degrees at the Center or online at a UH campus.

Check out more stories of our UH spring graduates

Never stop learning

Group of gradutes
Two smiling grads
Pualei Lima and Lohiao Paoa, one of two couples who earned their degrees

After a 23-year journey, 41-year-old Harriet Uʻilani Mokiao proudly earned her associate degree in liberal arts. Cheers and applause roared for Mokiao as she delivered one of the student addresses, emphasizing the significance of her path to achievement.

“We really need to live in the present having learned from the past. Theres an ʻōlelo noʻeau that reads ma ka hana ka ʻike, ma ka ʻike ka mana. Through work, through doing, comes knowledge and through knowledge comes power,” Mokiao said.

More than 50% of the graduates are Native ֱan and received degrees and certificates ranging from associate degrees in dental hygiene and early education to certificates in ֱan studies and construction technology.

The number of nurse aide graduates nearly doubled since the islands last commencement with 23 students earning their certification, which will help to address a critical need on Molokaʻi.

Sonni Han, 17, is one of the graduates who earned nurse aide certification while attending Molokaʻi High School.

Two smiling grads
Cousins Sonni Han and Meleana Pa-Kala

“A lot of kids think that they cant do it because they come from Molokaʻi and they dont have a lot of opportunities but this year I found that a lot of people want to help you, especially here at the college,” Han said. “If you just reach out to them they?ll get you places where you didnt think you could go.”

Historic milestone on Molokaʻi

Plama Lima is the first ever doctoral graduate on Molokaʻi to be hooded at the ceremony. Lima earned a PhD in anthropology from UH ѨԴDz.

Doctorate student
Plama Lima, first ever Molokaʻi native to be honored for earning a doctorate degree

Molokaʻi is our biggest teacher and the best way to show appreciation for that is to come home and devote yourself to community work,” Lima said.

As part of UH Maui College, the center offers a wide range of credit and non-credit courses and certificate and associate degree programs. Like other UH outreach sites, it provides selected courses from other UH community colleges and receives selected bachelors and masters degree programs from UH ѨԴDz, UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu via .

Grad flashing shaka

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