In December 2021, the first cohort of Leeward Community College’s Online AA Program—19 students, from in-state and as far away as California, North Carolina and Virginia—earned their associate’s in liberal arts degrees. Their success inspired the Alakaʻina Foundation to sponsor 10 full-tuition scholarships (up to $10,000 per recipient) for fall 2022 and 10 for spring 2023.
The program has helped many working adults, with an opportunity to earn their degrees without neglecting their personal responsibilities. Fall 2022 scholarship recipients Sarah Moore and Angessa Newman said getting their associate’s degree is the first step on a path toward a meaningful career and helping others who have had similar struggles.
Moore was raised by a hard-working single parent and is now experiencing the challenges of raising a daughter of her own.
“The barriers can be daunting at times. It is difficult to work full-time, be a present parent, a student, and take care of myself physically and mentally. But I know that education is a privilege, and I will not waste the opportunity,” Moore said.
Completing her coursework online allows her to maintain her work schedule, while the scholarship makes it affordable.
“The funding pays for tuition, which is a huge weight lifted. It removes the financial burden and encourages me to keep going,” Moore said.
She is determined to earn a bachelor’s degree and work in environmental conservation—to join the movement of those dedicated to protecting the natural world.
Caring for siblings
Newman had to overcome tragedy in her family—her mother passing away when she was only 20 years old, leaving her with the responsibility of guardianship of her younger siblings.
“I knew that everything that I had planned for in life needed to be put on hold for a while because I needed to step up and be the person who would care for them,” she said.
After seeing her siblings through high school, Newman has a child of her own and she wants to be an example to her family and to others who face similar struggles.
“This (scholarship) will open up more opportunities and get me started on my journey to become a social worker,” Newman said. “Being a social worker means helping families that are torn apart, and children who deserve a family who loves and cares for them like their own.”
The Leeward CC Liberal Arts Online AA Program consists of 60 credits and approximately 20 courses. The two fully online degree tracks are Cohort Year-Round and Flex Track. Leeward CC’s Alakaʻina Scholarship is available to eligible students who are part of the year-round cohort.