From inmate to graduate: A HonCC success story

By Chanelle Amoguis
Davida Aila’s bright smile overshadows a personal past of drugs and hardship.
Proudly wearing a light green HonCC shirt, Aila, a female welder and a non-traditional student, has overcome unexpected trials in her life in order to finally graduate from HonCC.
“I was in prison for a total of, with work furlough, about seven years,” Aila began. “I went to mainland [for] everything. So during that time I was locked up – you know, staying busy was really important in there. You can either be one lazy bum and just stay in your cell or your cube 23 hours a day, or you could actually do something and I was one of those that did stuff. So I wanted a job in the facility. I chose to do that. I was part of the outside workline and that’s where I realized that I really enjoyed being outside and doing hard work.”
Aila first attended HonCC in 2014, a year after being officially released from prison. Like many incoming freshmen, Aila had her fears attending college for the first time.
“I left high school with a point six G.P.A. I was scared I was going to be the oldest one there,” Aila said.
However, it was through joining programs and clubs on the HonCC campus that Aila was able to take the right path for the betterment of her future.
Through a close friend, Aila became greatly involved with programs such as CARE, TRiO-SSS, Hulili ke Kukui Hawaiian Center, and Phi-Theta Kappa.
“It’s like in school, I surround myself with people who are like-minded, so [in the] CARE office, everybody’s like-minded; the overachievers [of] Phi Theta Kappa; scholars and I just carry on in the same way as I do out there,” Aila said.
Despite Aila’s hardworking and positive attitude, she still went through many of the same struggles as other students.
Read more