Path to teaching career started with HCC

Ronald Santos graduated from Leilehua High School in Wahiawa 2009 and now, less than 10 years later, he’s a full-time teacher there. But, like many other students who start their career path at Honolulu CC, his journey was anything but a straight shot.
Santos was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when he was 3 years old. After high school, he enrolled at HonCC with the intention of getting certified as an electrician, but found classes for that major difficult to get into.
So he switched course and started pursuing a liberal arts degree, getting more and more active in various extracurricular activities during his time at the school. He became part of the school’s student government, worked for the Student Life and Development office, and wrote stories for the Ka La newspaper.
“I still cherish the relationships I have built from being involved in those organizations because they gave me a sample of things that truly interested me,” Santos said.
Some of his best memories as a student were when he went on trips for the student organizations like the Ho’opili Hou leadership conference and the College Media Association’s annual journalism conference in Orlando, Fla.
“Since, I enjoyed traveling with the campus organizations, I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to get a job anywhere, so I decided on teaching English,” Santos said.
After getting his associates degree from HonCC in 2012, that dream led him to UH-Hilo, where he got his bachelor’s degree in linguistics and a certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Santos came back to Oahu and applied to be an educational assistant at Leilehua High School and was quickly hired.
“When they learned about my background in ESL, I was asked if I was interested in teaching some ESL science classes,” he said.
“The most important thing I learned about my career is to try different things,” he said. “You never truly know what career is best for you unless you actually apply and see first-hand what the job is like.”
Santos is well on his way to get a state approved teaching license, yet he hopes to get a chance to teach summer programs abroad some day.
“Teaching is rewarding, but not without its challenges,” he said. Like many teachers, getting students to participate and engage in the classroom without getting out of hand hand are daily tasks for Santos.
He plans on staying at Leillehua High School and hopes to move up the ranks to be an administrator one day.
Gerimi Tangonan wrote this story while a student in Honolulu CC’s Journalimsm 205, News Writing class.

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

First medical cannabis dispensaries now open

Christopher Garcia
Larry L. Medina

Two dispensaries in Hawai’i were approved in the first week of August to sell medical cannabis to qualified patients, 17 years after Hawaiʻi first OK’d the use of it for medicinal purposes.

The dispensaries that were approved were Maui Grown Therapies on Maui, and Aloha Green on O’ahu. Six more cannabis dispensaries are awaiting approval.

Hawaiʻi was one of the first states to approve the use of medical cannabis, 17 years ago. Until now, Hawaiʻi residents registered as medical marijuana patients have had no legal way to buy the drug.

For everyone else, however, the use of cannabis (the preferred professional and cultural term for marijuana), remains illegal in Hawaiʻi on the federal level.

Hawaiʻi law requires all qualified patients to be registered with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program before they begin to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The registration process begins when an appropriately licensed physician certifies that the patient has a health condition that can benefit from medical cannabis. The patient is registered when the Department of Health issues a “329 Registration Card.” The department’s goal is to issue the patient’s 329 Registration Card in a timely manner so that patients can begin or continue to legally use medical cannabis.

To qualify for a 329 Card, one must either have a “debilitating medical condition” or “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” recognized under the law. This is done via screening from a certified medical cannabis consultant. The process can take an average of 32 days, but there are several welcoming consultants that help applicants through it.

One such person is Paul Klink, founder and certified medical cannabis consultant for the Honolulu Wellness Center. His clinic provides screening for patients and helps them fill out the necessary forms. He can also “legally give you recommendations about variety to mitigate your symptoms or ailment, to what you can expect.”

The Department of Health is also required to provide law enforcement officials with limited access to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program’s database as a tool to safeguard the community against illegal cannabis use and/or illegal cannabis grow sites.

Until now, it was legal for people with a medical cannabis card to have and use it, but they werenʻt able to buy it legally until the state changed the law in 2015.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance oversees the dispensary licensure program to monitor the quality of the cannabis products from seed to sale. This includes statewide oversight of the laboratories that test the safety and quality of the cannabis and manufactured cannabis products, and monitoring of the dispensaries that will grow, manufacture, and sell the products to qualified patients.

Advocates of medical cannabis have hailed the dispensary program as a major breakthrough. The goal of the dispensary licensure program is to make medicinal products readily available to registered patients while balancing the health and safety of patients and the public.

Hawaiʻi approved its first laboratory in August to begin testing samples of medical cannabis.
Steep Hill Hawaiʻi, a Honolulu-based firm, was granted a provisional certificate after successfully demonstrating a “capacity and proficiency to test cannabis” and make sure marketed products are in compliance with state law.

“Certification follows a rigorous scientific process that requires meticulous attention to detail and constant refining to ensure product and patient safety,” said Chris Whelen, chief of DOH’s state Laboratories Division.

The change in the law holds significant impacts to its supporters — the patients, the medical professionals, and the dispensaries.

Klink does not just send patients on their way after they complete their application. He says, “you’re part of our ohana.”

He is extremely passionate about his work, saying that “seeing you smile and seeing you happy is what [he is] doing this for.”

One of his patients was a “23-year-old, confused autistic child, [who] never said a word of English in his life,” Klink says, “Two days later, [the patient] looks at his dad and calls him ‘dad.’ ”

He recounted another moment when he went to one of his patient’s funerals. At the funeral’s end, the patient’s son said to Paul, “Uncle Paul, thank you for getting my mom out of the opiate cloud and giving her back to us with giggles and conversations for the last three weeks.”

Klink is a patient, as well. He has hypoxia (low oxygen), “many” cardiac implants, and had his thyroid removed due to cancer. Klink says, “The only reason I’m sitting in front of you, I believe, is because of Cannabis.” He also says that “…it’s not as good as as the proponents want you to believe it is, it’s not as bad as the detractors want you to believe it is, but it’s really good for what it’s good for…”

When legalized in 2000, Klink got his 329 Card to try Cannabis. He says, “A few years later, I was able to stop all opiates and use cannabis exclusively to mitigate Level Ten pain all the time.”

Me Fuimaono-Poe, founder of the Malie Cannabis Clinic, also certifies patients for medical cannabis use. She says that she wants to create a “comfortable and safe environment” for her patients as they go through their applications. This is to ensure that patients are relaxed and comfortable enough to talk about sensitive issues.

Mahalo for reading. Here’s a Letter from (not) the Editor – click on this link:

Letters from (not) the Editor

Kamehameha Day Parade 2017 (set #2)

Larry L. Medina out on assignment photographing pa’u riders, ali’i, royal escorts and kupuna at the annual Kamehameha Day Parade, 10 June 2017. Nikon D200, 28-80mm G Nikkor lens.

Kamehameha Day Parade 2017 (set #1)

Eddie Meza braves the wet drizzly morning to shoot the 101st Kamehameha Day Parade off Ala Moana Blvd., June 10, 2017. Canon T2i, Tamron 28-200 lens.