After graduating from high school on O’ahu in 2010, Noah Patterson Hanohano Dolim needed direction. He was an underachieving student in high school, Dolim says, and he didn’t know what to do next. That’s when he decided to move to Hilo and enroll at Hawai‘i Community College. With family on Hawai‘i Island, it seemed like a smart move, and it turns out he was right.
At Hawai‘i CC he found what he was looking for: a sense of community and passionate professors who sparked an interest in Hawaiian history, a subject that is now the focus of his doctoral studies.
“Coming to Hawai’i Community College was my rebirth, my reinvention of myself,” he says. “Since then I’ve been on the path of school, and I haven’t stopped yet. I think if I’d gone straight to a four-year university, I don’t think I would have made it. The transition would have been too hard. I really needed the smaller school.”
Dolim graduated from Hawai‘i CC in 2012 with highest honors, earning an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and an Academic Subject Certificate in Hawai’i Life Styles. He enrolled in a variety of classes along the way, including science, geography and Hawaiian studies. Getting outside the classroom to experience the island as part of his coursework – whether it was for science or history – had a major impact on him, he recalls.
“Seeing different parts of the island was pretty key. There’s so much history you can still see on this island visually,” he says.
After graduating from Hawai‘i CC, he transferred first to UH Hilo then to UH Mānoa, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. Now he is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of California, Irvine.
“I’m studying the 19th century Hawaiian kingdom era,” he says. “Hawai‘i is so rich, and I don’t know if I’m biased or not, but I feel like the 19th century kingdom era is one of the most complicated periods of history. From the late 1700s to 1900 Hawai‘i goes through so much change.”
The PhD path is not an easy one; it will be four or five years before he’s done. But Dolim hopes it will help him achieve his goal.
“The dream would be to finish in another four or five years and hopefully move back here, and I would love to be on this island and teaching at the college level,” he says.
BENEFITS OF HAWAI‘I CC
Dolim’s path illustrates one of the main benefits Hawai‘i CC offers: a chance to start in Liberal Arts, Hawaiian Studies, Natural Science and other programs and transfer to other UH campuses as a junior with your general education requirements fulfilled.
“I think it’s such a great opportunity for your first two years,” he says. “You can explore, take something unexpected, because it might be the thing you really fall in love with and are really good at. And monetarily, you save a lot.”
Students can become part of a learning environment that is welcoming and provides opportunities to make the island part of the classroom.
“I’m still friends with a lot of people I met here in different classes,” he says. “I think I’m the best friends with the people I went on excursions with for science and Hawai‘i Life Styles. Those are bonding trips. They’re lifelong friendships.”