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Unique Scholarships Give Second Chance at College

Waialeale Project asks high school counselors to recommend students who might not have college aspirations

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“I sat my husband down to make sure he would back me up on this,” says Rapozo. “He has stepped up to the plate and does the laundry, the cooking, helping the kids with their homework. He’s just a great support for me.”

That support system also includes her parents and in-laws, with the extended family taking care of her youngest child, so she can finish her job and go to evening classes.

The program asks high school counselors to recommend students who might not have college aspirations. “We train the counselors in high school to recruit them and say, ‘Just give us one year. You’ll make more money, live longer, and we’ll pay for it,” Lally says. “… But, (later) we’re telling the kids, ‘If school is for you and you want to get an associate of arts degree, we’ll pay for that also. All the tuition, books, fees, everything.’ ”

Statistics from the program’s first full year are encouraging.

Nationwide, says Perry, “The re-enrollment rate between the first year (of community college) and second year is about 55 percent. Our re-enrollment rate was 54 percent. Our students are comparable to the national rate.”

Another measure of student success is a 2.0 grade-point average and completing at least two-thirds of the courses you attempt. Outside the program, 60 percent of students achieve those goals; inside the program, the rate is a comparable 56 percent, Perry says.

“So our students are right there.”


How You Can Help

Organizers of the Waialeale Project plan to expand, starting with Oahu’s Windward Community College next fall. To help the program grow, they are asking businesses to sponsor individual students at $5,000 a year and then provide support and guidance.

“I’m asking the person who referred them to continue to stick with that person, to check in on them from time to time and see how they’re doing. There’s going to be an expectation to ‘invest’ in their student,” says project coordinator Kimo Perry.

Want to help?
Call 808-245-8328 or


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