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After participating in Hawaiʻi Pacific University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 6 at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, the 106 seniors from KS Kapālama who earned their Associate of Arts degrees gathered with family and friends, including HPU’s manō mascot, Sharky (front right), for a reception and lei presentation at Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center.

More than 100 KS Kapālama seniors earn associate degrees

May. 8, 2023

More than three weeks ahead of receiving their high school diplomas, 106 seniors from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama graduated with their Associate of Arts (AA) degrees from Hawai‘i Pacific University (HPU). The students’ HPU graduation ceremony took place Saturday, May 6 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, followed by a reception and lei presentation for haumāna and ‘ohana at Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center. The same group is set to participate in KS Kapālama’s commencement activities on May 28.

“Seeing so many of our high school seniors walk across that stage to receive their associate degree is emotionally fulfilling,” said Wendy Erskine, poʻo kumu of KS Kapālama Kula Ki‘eki‘e. “Our faculty and staff work so hard to position our haumāna for success, and this helps to validate that hard work. With this degree in hand, these haumāna are better equipped to embrace their kuleana as future ʻōiwi leaders.”

The KS Kapālama Class of 2023 represents the inaugural group of students earning their AA in the dual-credit program fully funded by Kamehameha Schools. KS Kapālama kumu, who hold master’s degrees, were vetted by HPU to teach KS Kapālama curriculum rooted in Hawaiian culture-based education that aligns with HPU’s university courses. Enrolled haumāna, grades 9–12, earn college credits while completing their high school requirements. Classes include collegiate-level Literature of the Pacific, ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i and Astronomy.

“HPU’s dual-credit program increases Hawaiʻi high school students’ earning potential immediately out of high school while simultaneously reducing the time and expense of earning a college degree,” said Dr. Jennifer Walsh, senior vice president and provost at Hawai‘i Pacific University. “We’re grateful for Kamehameha Schools’ extraordinary commitment to making this unprecedented opportunity available to our keiki.”

In addition to saving money on college tuition, haumāna who continue their education at HPU are eligible for significant tuition discounts and scholarships, like KS Kapālama senior and AA student Noel Ah Mook Sang. She will attend HPU in the fall to finish her bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“In getting the degree itself, I experienced a wide range of classes that led me to find my major. Getting the opportunity to pursue higher education has motivated me to be more studious and appreciative of the education I’ve been gifted. I know that this degree has put me ahead, and it has inspired me to not only achieve more but to give back to those who have brought me to this point,” Sang said.

Learn more about the dual-credit program at

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