Kauai News

Endowments Established to Support Wai‘ale‘ale Project at KCC

Posted June 27, 2020, 10:22 AM HST

Front row: Dr. Joseph Daisy and Dr. Roberta Weil; Middle row: Rose Ramos-Benzel, Leticia Saio, Momi Kaahanui, Joana Rodriguez; Back Row: Ticannaf Ruby-Ano
LaFrance Kapaka-Arboleda

Two endowments have been established to support students participating in the Wai‘ale‘ale project at Kaua‘i Community College.

“As endowments, these scholarships will perpetuate the special legacy of their namesakes for generations and help shape the futures of many families working hard to get the education they need to forge a stable future,” said Kaua‘i CC Chancellor Joseph Daisy.

The Waiʻaleʻale Project encourages and finances non-college-bound high school students and adults to attend, and successfully complete, their first year of college. It has been life-changing for individuals and their families.

The endowments are gifts from Dr. Roberta Weil and the LaFrance Foundation to support this innovative program. Since the Wai‘ale‘ale Project’s inception in 2010, it has served 781 students, ages 18-66.

Approximately 273 students receive a bachelor’s, associate’s and/or certifications through the program. About 391 degrees/certificates have been awarded. Sixty percent of students in Wai‘ale‘ale return for the second year, while 44% of our non- Wai‘ale‘ale student body returns.

Weil established the Weil ‘Ohana Wai‘ale‘ale Scholarship Endowment with a $35,000 gift. Supporting non-traditional students has been one of Weil’s lifelong passions. After starting a family, she enrolled in community college in her late twenties where she was the oldest student in her class. Managing family and school responsibilities was challenging but she took one class at a time, ultimately earning an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s in American Studies, and her Master’s in Education. She was awarded her PhD in Higher Education when she was 50 years old.

Weil’s career included teaching in an elementary school; working with young men in a youth prison and serving as Assistant Dean of Community Services at Coastline Community College in Southern California. Later she served as the Director of Admissions and Academic Affairs for Graduate Students at University of California at San Diego. Once retired, Weil and her late husband Paul moved to Kaua‘i.

“After marriage and children I returned to college and was one of the earliest nontraditional students at Rio Hondo Community College.” Weil explained. “The Wai‘ale‘ale project allows me to help other nontraditional students succeed in college. These students face many more hardships than I did and I hope this endowment will enable them to fulfill their dreams and educational successes.”

Wai‘ale‘ale Project Program Coordinator Lahea Salazar said, “Dr. Weil’s pioneering spirit is a perfect match for the groundbreaking Wai‘ale‘ale Project. As a non-traditional student herself, she knows firsthand how challenging juggling family and higher education can be, and how important supports are to help with that journey.” Salazar continued, “With this named scholarship, student recipients have a role model they can relate to, and be inspired by as they too seek to fulfil their potential and build a future for their families and Kaua‘i.”

Anela Kapaka-Rhoades established a foundation to honor the memory of her mother LaFrance Kapaka-Arboleda and to help Hawai‘i’s youth access higher education. LaFrance Kapaka-Arboleda of Anahola, Kaua‘i was a respected cultural resource and very active in the Hawaiian community. She was a champion of the underprivileged and served on numerous nonprofit and government boards and commissions addressing issues from affordable housing, economic development, restoration of cultural sites and land preservation.

Anela Kapaka-Rhoades, who pledged $42,000 to establish the endowment, said, “My mother was a courageous visionary who championed causes that she believed would benefit all the people of Hawai‘i. The Wai‘ale‘ale project represents what she stood for. She vowed to take care of our children on Kaua‘i. She was an amazing woman who believed in the Hawaiian people, and she wanted nothing but the best for them. This scholarship is my way of keeping her legacy alive.”

 
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