BY KAYLA VALERA | STAFF WRITER
These past two semesters saw the addition of five new counselors in the TRIO, Disability Student Services Office and Student-Parent Program departments at KCC.
In the TRIO Student Support Services program, both Kristy Yoshikawa and Dyan Kaneshiro came to KCC in the fall Semester – Yoshikawa in August, Kaneshiro in October – to aid the 206 students who make up the entire TRIO SSS program.
As a first-year counselor with TRIO (which aids students with disabilities, low income, or are first-generation college students), Yoshikawa caters to the incoming students to KCC. She helps these students with academic advising and ultimately getting them on the right track to graduation.
“I love it,” said Yoshikawa. “I feel lucky because I get to meet them when they first come in, and I do an intake interview with all of our incoming students. … I really get the chance to identify their goals and their academic progress so far and I really like it.”
Before she joined TRIO in August, Yoshikawa previously worked in the KCC Nursing department since 2011. There, she helped with advising students, handling health records, and sorting the clinical placements of students along with the nursing instructors. Even further back, in 2007, Yoshikawa graduated from KCC before moving on to UH Mānoa.
Once students in the TRIO program finish their first year of school, they are then under the guidance of Kaneshiro, who is a second- and third-year TRIO counselor. For her, KCC was an easy adjustment from her prior work at UH Mānoa, where she worked in the Financial Aid department for six years.
“At UH Mānoa, I would see different students every single day, and I may see one student one day and never see them again,” said Kaneshiro as she compared her experience at the UH campus compared to working with a smaller population of TRIO students.
Her role consists of academic advising, looking for scholarships, and helping students to graduate from KCC and transfer to a four-year school.
During the spring semester, both Jodi Asato and Deneen Kawamoto came to KCC as counselors in the the Disability Support Service Office department.
Asato, who started in February, works with students who require certain needs for their specific disability. Her initiative toward assisting disabled students stems from her time at UH Mānoa’s Kokua program. Since then she has been passionate about her work in helping individuals with their disabilities.
Prior to KCC, she worked 12 years at a non-profit organization called, Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaiʻi. This organization aims to use its technology, or recommend other vendors who have special technology, to accommodate the needs of individuals despite their disabilities.
“It is my hope that as a new counselor in the Disability Student Services Office (DSSO), I will be able to influence and encourage students to use assistive technology in their class(es),” said Asato in an email. “I believe that technology helps level the playing field for everyone.”
Right in the next office over, Kawamoto is the second newest counselor in the DSSO department as of this past January. Kawamoto mostly conducts intakes, or first meetings, with students who have qualifying disabilities.
For the past 11 and a half years, Kawamoto has been doing similar work at a private four-year institution, where she was a disability resources manager.
“Here we have students with all abilities coming in, and I’m just learning to work with a more diverse group,” said Kawamoto as she compares her previous experience with what she currently does for DSSO.
“There’s also a lot of support here and processes and procedures are already in place, since I had to do everything from A to Z at my old job being the only counselor for disabilities there!” Kawamoto said .
Coming in during late February, Brooke Conway is a counselor for the Student-Parent program at KCC, and unlike the other new counselors, her position is one that was just opened for her.
Her boss, Cathy Wehrman, previously carried out the work that Conway now shares with her, which is assisting student-parents who are single parents (unmarried, divorced, legally separated, or widowed). With Conway on board, the Student-Parent Program has expanded the parameters of the program for all parents, not just single parents. What Conway and the Student-Parent Program does is help student parents balance out their school and home lives, which can even mean recommending affordable daycare centers.
Having been a part of the non-profit organization, the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, for the past three years, Conway used to help manage the education program there and taught about sexual violence. This opportunity led her and Wehrman to launch one of the newest KCC clubs, the PAU (Prevention, Awareness, Understanding) Violence Coalition. The club had a hand in events such as April’s sexual violence awareness month, which promoted events like These Hands Will Not Hurt and Denim Day.
If you’re interested in the TRIO SSS program, either email first-year counselor Kristy Yoshikawa at firstname.lastname@example.org , or second- and third-year counselor Dyan Kaneshiro at email@example.com. For any questions you may have pertaining to the DSSO department, email either counselors Jodi Asato, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Deneen Kawamoto, at email@example.com. Those interested in either the Student Parent Program or KCC’s PAU Violence Coalition, email counselor Brooke Conway at firstname.lastname@example.org.