Never too late to go back to school

April Acquavella proved that it’s never too late to change careers.
After almost 20 years of working in the corporate world of marketing, Acquavella decided it was time for something new. It wasn’t that her career was unfulfilling or unstable; she worked in graphic design and had the opportunity to regularly express her creativity.
“A few years ago we were renovating the kitchen in our house while living in Virginia and though we hired workers to do the remodeling, I found the construction aspect really interesting,” Acquavella said. “At the time I was looking for another industry that was focused on the design side, and I decided I wanted to learn carpentry as a background for whatever industry I choose.”
That choice led her to Honolulu Community College.

Right out of high school, Acquavella attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing. When she decided to make a career change at the age of 40, rather than going back to Manoa, she chose to attend a trade school since she had already experienced the traditional academic route.

“Trade and vocational schools have a prepared curriculum focus that’s geared to make you job ready. What you learn is applicable to what you’d be doing outside school,” she said.

Acquavella completed the Carpentry Technology Program at Honolulu Community College, and was the student speaker at the spring commencement ceremonies in 2016.
After commencement, she started looking for a company she wanted to work for and found Bello’s Millwork in Wahiawa.
She cold called the owners and expressed her desire to work there and they eventually called her back. Though she had to start at the bottom, she made her way up to become a CNC operator. A CNC machine, which stands for Computer Numerical Control, is a machine that cuts automatically off of computer designs.
Acquavella enjoyed her two years at the Carpentry Technology Program. She considered her classmates her cohorts and even ‘ohana,’ the Hawaiian word for family. She was highly involved in her studies and even started a Carpentry Club for students and alumni.

There are only two teachers for the program but her favorite was George Boeman.

“George is a lifetime framing carpenter for the union. He taught us in a theoretical sense and went through higher level skills and math – things one would need further down in their career,” she said.

Acquavella attributes her current success to her background and the experience she acquired prior to going to Honolulu Community College. And this year, she returned to the school as an instructor, teaching a Communications Arts class.

Regardless of the field, people must network and get to know people, she said.
Acquavella kept an open mind and felt that there shouldn’t be an educational hierarchy and that one career isn’t better than another.

“Traditional academics aren’t better than vocational academics. Working for a trade isn’t for everyone either. As long as you’re contributing to society – that’s what matters,” she said.
Cole Williams is a student in the Journalism 205-News Writing class at Honolulu Community College

Dwayne Pesquira: From HonCC to Local Motion

Dwayne Pesquira, 25, graduated from Honolulu Community College in spring 2013 with a Communication Arts Degree and was quickly able to put his education to use, starting up his own freelance business and going to work for one of the biggest names in Hawai‘i—Local Motion.

After graduating from Kapolei High School in 2010, Pesquira enrolled to Honolulu Community College’s Communication Arts program because his graphics teacher in high school recommended the program.

While a student at Honolulu Community College, Pesquira won the bronze prize in the student division in the annual AAF District 13 Pele Awards competition for Hawai‘i design and advertising.

During his last semester of school, he started to take on freelance work and enjoyed being able to do real world work. Immediately after college, his journey began by joining the Clutch Design Group.

“My design work really picked up after college and three years after I graduated, I started to work for Local Motion,” he said.

Local Motion seemed to be a perfect fit for him, for in his spare time he enjoys being active by hiking, working out, surfing, and paddling, the lifestyle of customers Local Motion tries to reach.

“I love to surf. It’s my passion and my outlet, and really eases my mind especially when I have so much work to think about,” he said. “For my career field as a whole, surfing has been essential for me because it gives me time for creative thought, reflection, and inspiration.”

Local Motion has only three people working in the graphics department, and Pesquira mainly designs for Hawaiian Style, which is a brand under Local Motion targeted more towards Hawai‘i local-people. He creates graphics for a variety of merchandise including shirts, socks, lanyards, and stickers. He also helps manage social media and website design for Local Motion.

Pesquira continues to strive to become a better and well-rounded designer. He constantly finds new ways to solve problems and believes every new challenge is a new frontier.

Honolulu Community College helped him prepare for his professional journey by working with instructors who actually work in the design field and assign real world-like projects, Pesquira said, adding that his favorite instructor at Honolulu Community College was Scott Kawamura, who taught his first major design class. After Pesquira graduated, Kawamura offered him a job with his design firm before he moved on to work for Local Motion.

A lesson Pesquira learned in college that helped the success of his career was time management.

“In school I thought I could get away with things and waited to do an assignment last minute right before it was due, but after school, time management became so important,” he said.

His advice for current students is to look for inspiration everywhere, learn time management, and follow your passion even if taking a risk seems scary.

Tiffani Lau wrote this story while a student in Honolulu CC’s Journalism 205, News Writing class.

10/27/17 Cosmetology Halloween Gala

Cosmetology Dept showcased Halloween spirit in style at their annual gala. From zombies to clowns, dolls to devils, the Cosme students transformed mere mortals into freaky fashionistas. Danielle Martinez and Chris Garcia, photographers.

Pasta la vista, baby, staff style

The HonCC Staff Development Committee hosted a “Pasta La Vista, Baby” event in the cafeteria on Wednesday. Those who signed up in advance got to try nine different pasta dishes (and deserts) prepared by different groups on campus.

Pride Parade

The annual Pride Parade through Waikiki capped an October of events celebrating the LGBT community, with hundreds of people turning out to show their aloha. Other events during the month included the National Coming Out Day Rally at UH-Manoa, and the Mr/Ms/Miss Gay Pride Hawai’i 2018 pageant held at Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand.

A pageant for plus-size women

The isleʻs first Miss Hawaii Plus pageant was held Nov. 5, featuring full-figured women, and HonCC student and pageant contestant Puanani Hatori was in it.

Hatori said that the pageant of 20 contestants was geared to “help women feel more comfortable about their bodies.”

Hatori, from Waianae, is a student in the Welding Technology Program. She is set to graduate in Spring 2018.

In her free time, Hatori enjoys hunting for pigs.

“Most times, [I hunt] either it’s every weekend or every other weekend,” she said. She says she wants to eat pig “Hawaiian style” this Thanksgiving.

Hatori entered the pageant through the urging of her cousin, who herself had been a contestant in another pageant. “Me and my cousin have similiarities – we are the shy ones in our family.” When first asked to run, “I was like, ʻnah, I no think so, I donʻt wanna, noooo.ʻ What convinced me to do this was I wanted to get out my comfort zone.” After watching her cousin onstage, she thought “damn, if she could it, I could do it.”

One of Hatori’s goals outside the pageant are to help with domestic violence and suicide prevention; she also wants to do outreach to full-sized girls and women “to help them cope and find confidence in themselves.” Hatori counts herself as a survivor of domestic violence, suicide, and body-shaming.

Emotional and tearing, Hatori said that she was bullied from a very young age through high school. “I got into this whole other world – the drug scene – that was my new reality and I fit in.” It was a world where not only did she not feel ashamed of her body, but she simply didnʻt care.

She got sober in her mid-20ʻs, then entered college in 2015. “My family is into construction, and I didnʻt want a desk job,” explaining her choice of major.

Hatori said she doesnʻt have anything to say to those who bullied her. “Because I decided to change my mindset and be a positive person not only for myself, but for others. I donʻt want to say anything to them. I just want to show them what I can do. I can only say so much, and people will only listen so far. Actions, not words.”

Samantha Iha-Preece, former Miss Hawaii World 2015, is the pageant director. “There was a void in pageantry and an underrepresentation of plus-sized women,” Iha-Preece says. She wants “beauty to be more positive and more inclusive.” She says that plus- sized women want to be viewed on “equal platforms as their thinner counterparts. They are not just beautiful but sensual, fabulous and sexy.”

Miss Hawaii Plus took a year to plan, getting sponsors, booking venues and training first-time entrants. The pageant itself is not affiliated with the Miss America or Miss USA organizations. “Their guidelines differ from our own,” Iha-Preece said, “as well as their definition of beauty.”

There are two different categories: Miss Hawaii Plus (ages 18 to 29) and Ms. Hawaii Plus (ages 30 and up). Contestants must be at least size 14W and must be born female.

Training is a month and a half long, so “you have to catch on kind of quick,” said Hatori. “They train you on how to walk, how to talk, the dances that they do. It was hard! I had to wear high heels!”

The contestants have different organizations and causes that they are personally involved with, Iha-Preece explained. Proceeds from the next two years will go to Feed Hawaii’s Homeless and Oahu SPCA. The pageant winners will also help care for and feed the homeless, and build and distribute care packages.

Hatoriʻs 14 y/o son was inspired by her running. “Mom, you got this,” he said. Her son, along with her significant other “are my biggest inspirations to do things. My other half inspires me to go out and do things and just try.

“Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations. Donʻt let anyone define who youʻre meant to be.”