University of Hawai‘i Maui College …

University of Hawai‘i Maui College …

A great option for Maui’s graduating high school students.

Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor

Why should I move when we have a great nursing program here in Hawai‘i that is more affordable?” In 2018, Lennel Joy Alvarez was a senior at Maui High School, pondering her future. As a teenager, she had dreamed of going to college—preferably far from home. As a junior, she began searching for colleges and researched those with reputable nursing programs such as the University of San Francisco, Azusa Pacific University, University of Portland, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the University of Hawai‘i Maui College (UHMC). Alvarez was accepted at all these schools. “At the time, my mind set was to find the fastest and easiest way to finish my nursing degree but as I drew closer to my senior year my mind set changed,” Alvarez recalls. “During my senior year of high school, I realized I would be more helpful to my family if I stayed rather than left. In that year, my younger sisters were only two years old and my family needed all the help they could get. Additionally, I looked into the prices of the colleges I applied to and found staying in Hawai‘i for college would be a lot cheaper.”

Taking a minute to enjoy their sense of place on UH Maui Campus
Photo courtesy UHMC

Indeed, the cost of a four-year college has skyrocketed over the years. Each year, CBS News compiles a list of the fifty most expensive colleges in the country (see adjoining box for a sample) and the range goes from $81,531 for the most expensive—University of Chicago to $74,570 for the 50th most expensive—Stanford University. At #8 is my alma mater—University of Southern California—at an annual cost of $77,459. My recollection is it cost me $1976 per semester in tuition and my total net cost (after scholarships) for both college and law school was around $25,000—the amount of my Guaranteed Student Loan through the HC&S Federal Credit Union now known as Valley Isle Community Federal Credit Union.

The cost at UHMC definitely is a game changer. For the fall/spring semester, residents pay $131 per lower division credit and $306 per upper division credit (300 and 400 level courses). The UHMC website, even offers a cost calculator to help you figure out your college cost at UHMC,

Current UHMC Student Government President Bre Rodrigues and former President Sam Peralta discuss possible ways to improve student engagement and campus life.
Photo courtesy UHMC

For Shania Mae Miranda, also a 2018 Maui High School alum, cost was definitely a factor in selecting UHMC. “UHMC was the college I chose to further my knowledge, specifically as a nursing major because it was easier on me financially. It allowed me to work my two part time jobs at the time to help pay my tuition and books, in addition to the scholarships I was awarded. I also decided to stay near home because I believe regardless where I get my nursing degree, the end goal is the same. Additionally, while still being able to live with my parents, I can save money for my future big girl purchases, such as my dream house and dream car.”

While UHMC’s nursing program is extremely popular and difficult to gain entry, UHMC offers a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Business & Information Technology and a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Science Management. The UHMC website describes the ABIT degree as “a unique hybrid degree that emphasizes business, entrepreneurship and technology skills” while the UHMC website states the SSM program involves studies of “advanced practices such as systems approaches and offer applied experience to equip our students with knowledge, skills and leadership for the future.”

UHMC also offers Associate Degrees and Certificates in a wide range of disciplines: Accounting; Administration of Justice; Agriculture & Natural Resources; Automotive Technology; Business Administration; Business Technology; Construction Technology; Creative Media; Culinary Arts; Dental Hygiene; Early Childhood Education; Electronic & Computer Engineering Technology; Fashion Technology; Hawaiian Studies; Hospitality & Tourism; Human Services; Liberal Arts; Marine Options Program; Natural Science; Nursing; and Visual Arts.

UHMC boasts a new, easy Kama‘āina application for 2022 graduating high school students. Complete application information can be found at Registration for the Fall 2022 classes opens on April 4, 2022.

Culinary students (L-R) Layli Gonzalez, Ryan Chang, and Deandra Massey team up to prepare their plate for entry during a class competition cooking challenge.
Photo courtesy UHMC
This young lady examines specimens under a microscope.
Photo courtesy UHMC
ECET students Pal Isidore Casinto (L) and Byron-John Delacruz (R) checking power connection for NASA Rocket payload.
Photo courtesy UHMC

“We pride ourselves on providing our students with a nurturing environment where everyone—faculty, administration, staff—is committed to student success,” says UHMC Chancellor Lui Hokoana, a 1985 St. Anthony High School alum who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UH Hilo, a master’s degree in communications from UH at Mānoa and a doctorate of education degree from the University of Southern California. “Small class sizes, high-quality instructors, affordability and convenience are all hallmarks of our college,” explains Hokoana, who was appointed Chancellor on December 1, 2014.

Aside from saving money, what’s important is the relationships developed not only at school but in the community. This was definitely in Miranda’s mind set. “I also kept in mind the connections and relationships I can create during my clinical experiences to help with obtaining an RN job afterwards so I could help serve my community.” Alvarez agrees and says “I realized a lot of nurses on Maui graduated from the nursing program at UHMC. I learned from these UHMC Nursing Program alumni that leaving the island for college does not mean I will be receiving different and better education; nursing education is the same wherever we go, so I decided to commit to UHMC.”

Fellow students enjoy catching up on the campus great lawn .
Photo courtesy UHMC

“We are committed to preparing our students for the real world,” says Hokoana. “To that end, we work with community leaders to identify solid job opportunities. Whether students pursue a certificate, a two-year degree or a four-year degree, in the end they will be qualified to join a skilled workforce and contribute to building a positive future for our island home.”

During the pandemic, the UHMC Nursing program was active in administering vaccines and booster shots. Alvarez helped to organize a number of vaccine clinics at Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center while Miranda volunteered. Maui UH Regent Ernie Wilson, who received a booster at Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center, addressed the volunteers at the vaccine clinic and promised to inform the Chancellor of the good works and how important it was for the UHMC students to get involved in the community.

Chancellor Hokoana with Alvarez and another UHMC student at a vaccination clinic at Binhi at Ani.
Photo Alfredo G Evangelista

Hokoana concurs. “I believe the most rewarding careers support not only our students and their families but also our community. That’s one of the reasons we include opportunities to serve within our college curriculum. As an example, throughout the pandemic our nursing students assisted at COVID-19 vaccination clinics both on campus and off, including the clinics held at Binhi at Ani in Kahului.”

Lennel Joy Alvarez as a UHMC graduate.
Photo courtesy Alvarez
Shania MMae Miranda prepares a COVID-19 vaccine.
Photo courtesy Miranda

UHMC students like Alvarez and Miranda are shining examples of UHMC being an option. Alvarez, who completed her two years of prerequisites, received her Associate in Liberal Arts degree and was immediately admitted into the UHMC Nursing Program, is about to end her schooling at UHMC. “Currently, I am in my last semester of nursing school, expected to graduate in May 2022 with my Associate’s Degree in Nursing,” says Alvarez. “I do not regret my choice of staying on Maui because by choosing UHMC I was able to help my family, save money and still receive a great education that would benefit me for my future as a Registered Nurse.”

Alfredo G. Evangelista is a graduate of Maui High School (1976), the University of Southern California (1980), and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (1983). He is a sole practitioner at Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company, concentrating in estate planning, business start-up and consultation, nonprofit corporations, and litigation. He has been practicing law for 38 years (since 1983) and returned home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Tumacder Idica.