Jamie Sugai’s 32 years as a staff member at Kapi‘olani Community College gave her a rare insider perspective on the struggles some students face while completing the emergency medical technician and paramedic programs.
“I had the privilege of seeing multiple generations of students complete the programs,” Jamie says. “These students make sacrifices in their personal lives, and many of them struggle financially in order to go through the EMT program.”
As her retirement drew near, Jamie initiated a scholarship at the suggestion of her husband Sean, a member of the UH Foundation’s board of trustees, for EMT students exhibiting financial need. She says, “We agreed it was a great way to give back to the department and to Kapi‘olani CC for the many years of memories and friendships I gained along the way.”
“You were so helpful and nice”
The Jamie & Sean Sugai EMT Scholarship assists students with tuition, fees, and other costs associated with attendance. Its first recipient is Jenny Bernardino.
In a thank-you letter to the Sugais, Jenny writes, “As a single mom who resides on Maui, I fly home every weekend to be with my sons, and make up for being gone all week. There has been a great peace of mind knowing there’s a little extra help. This award has made it so I can focus more on my academics now, and a little less on the financials I need to make it all work.”
Because of Jamie’s role in the department, Jenny had already spoken to her on the phone before beginning the program. “You were so helpful and nice during a time when I was overwhelmed with how to proceed,” Jenny writes.
Contributing is “a blessing and honor”
Chancellor Louise Pagotto says, “In her interactions with students over the years, Jamie provided much more than administrative support. She was a regular at their graduation ceremonies, celebrating their accomplishments. This scholarship is such a fitting legacy.”
“Sean and I would love for our scholarship to be the impetus for other faculty and staff members to think about creating financial opportunities for future students, in whatever degree programs they choose,” says Jamie. “It’s a blessing and honor to contribute to their education. They will become our next EMTs and paramedics, and we may need to call on them one day for help in an emergency.”
Jenny Bernardino and Jamie Sugai
Jamie Sugai and Louise Pagotto