By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

As I prepare for commencement, I think back to when I started KCC in Fall 2016 and entered as a lost, extremely anxious and introverted student. At the time, if anyone told me that I would be able to get involved on campus that would help me to open up while enhancing my strengths and improving my weaknesses, I would have thought they were lying. Yet, here I am three years later with over 190 pieces published online through Kapiʻo News.

To think that I jumped at such an opportunity, which was brought to my attention by Kapiʻo’s faculty advisor Kim Baxter on my very first day of college, is what I have always viewed as an astonishing decision that I made considering that I was unsure of what it would do for me. However, making this choice turned out for the better since being a part of Kapiʻo since its reestablishment in Fall 2016 has introduced me to a whole new world of learning and growing.  

Hands down, the best part of being a staff writer has been the writing aspect. As an aspiring novelist, I was searching for any type of opportunity that would give me a chance to put my writing skills to the test; thankfully, Kapiʻo was in need of passionate writers. Of course, it was challenging to adjust from a creative perspective to the AP style writing structure but it only made me a better writer over time. When comparing how I wrote my articles in Fall 2016 to the most current ones in Spring 2019, I can appreciate and be proud of the incredible improvements I have made while cringing and awkwardly laughing as I look back at what I thought was good writing. 

I found that writing about campus news were my strongest stories. Since it meant having to go out to find interesting events happening on campus to piece together those articles, it helped me to get more involved. From being in person to witness the signing of an official study abroad agreement with Meio University of Nago, Okinawa, to hearing the recommendations of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) team during its verbal exit report, I was able to keep myself informed of campus whereabouts while making it known to those of KCC through my work.

Of course, making these stories come to life were made possible because of the many people I have interviewed. Being able to build connections and network with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and members of the community were the greatest assets I was able to have in developing my stories while also building the confidence to speak up and socialize effectively. 

I was quite unstable when I started my job as a staff writer that I was constantly dreading interviews, especially for Voices and Views (V&V) and Word on the Street (WOTS) in which those pieces required me to approach students at random. Yet, I somehow managed to pull myself together over the summer of 2018 and felt at ease walking around campus to do my first WOTS for the new school year. Though I am unsure as to what truly alleviated my stress for interviewing, a part of me is certain that the encouragement I received from those on campus had a role in it. 

The praise and support I would receive from others has been overwhelmingly positive throughout these past three years which has kept me motivated to continue writing, especially from those who I have made an impact on through what I published. Of all the stories I worked on, the most significant change I was able to make on campus was based on my story in Spring 2018 addressing accessibility for students with, and even without, disabilities. 

After hearing from my former classmate Maria McClellan, who was born with Morquio syndrome which forces her to use an electric wheelchair to get around most times, that she was having difficulty getting around campus and into buildings, I knew that I needed to help and be that voice for her. I was aware of how sensitive this subject was being that I had to approach Brian Furuto, the vice chancellor of Administrative Services, and those of Auxillary Services to question how compliant the institution was with ADA laws, but pushed aside whatever fear I had bottled up to attain the necessary information that was needed from my sources to generate my story.

Following the publication of this, I returned to school in Fall 2018 with shock to see that an automatic door opener was installed for the ʻIliahi building, a change McClellan said she was yearning to see occur because of how heavily populated that building is. After posting a picture of this addition onto our Kapiʻo social media pages and receiving a comment from McClellan herself that read “This just made my day. My year. I’m so happy this has happened!,” it brought a smile to my face to know that I had the power to make a difference for the campus. 

Having the ability to be open through my writing was another benefit that has allowed me to grow out of my shell. From being able to express the importance of applying for scholarships, which have paid for all three years of my time at KCC, to addressing my battle with anxiety, I felt for once that I had a strong enough voice that could be heard through my published pieces. 

This journey and experience with Kapiʻo was truly a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime. To be blessed with such an opportunity that introduced me to several avenues of exploration was a stepping stone for me in my personal life while challenging me to pursue academic and career goals. As I move on to UH Mānoa to work on my bachelor’s degree in English, I will be taking with me the lessons, guidance, and memories I have received and made with everyone through Kapiʻo as I continue following my passion for writing. 

My gratitude for everyone who has supported me and my role in Kapiʻo is infinite; I look forward to reading and hearing about what Kapiʻo has in store for the near future and hope to see its role on campus expand even more with the support of those on and off campus.