The Maida Kamber Center, located in Ilima Building 104, houses academic counselors to help students explore their interests and facilitate their transfer to the next stage of their education. (Photo by Juri Dagio)

By Juri Dagio | Staff Writer

“My Success Plan” provides easy access to reliable resources to help student parents achieve their career, family, and personal goals. (Courtesy of Cathy Wehrman)

According to the National Institutes of Health, 90% of students in higher education experience academic stress. Comparatively, only 15% of students reported seeking assistance from different sources.

College counselors help students prepare academically, explore majors and careers, and “thrive” after they graduate, said Stephen Harris, a 51-year-old counselor who has worked at KCC for 18 years, as he scanned through “Student Success Plan” on his office computer. Many KCC counselors have their success plan templates depending on a student’s major, interest, and lifestyle.

“We make sure that we connect them to the right person who can guide them in the right way,” said Cathy Wehrman, a KCC Student Parent program counselor since 1997.

Furthermore, counselors like Harris can also be a support to students who may be battling with personal difficulties.

“I want students to feel completely safe, to talk with me about anything that is affecting their ability to do well,” Harris said. “That could be something completely personal, that has nothing to do with school directly.”

Kapi’olani Community College is committed to assisting its students in overcoming any challenges they may encounter on their educational journey. In order to ensure their success, students are encouraged to seek academic and support counseling. After counseling, students will gain information about various college programs and resources, according to Lori Maehara, a Culinary Arts counselor. She recommends that students inquire about counseling regardless of whether or not they require it.

Throughout the semester, all KCC students have access to a wide range of academic and support counseling programs that can help them plan, visualize their dream careers, and ultimately, achieve them.

Counseling in Academic Programs

Liberal Arts, Hawaiian Studies, STEM, and New Media Arts (NMA)

There are a team of counselors available at the Maida Kamber Center to provide academic support for students; they specialize in career exploration and transfer services. Transfer services include transfer to UH Hilo, UH Mānoa, UH West Oʻahu, UH Maui College, and other institutions located throughout Hawai’i, and the mainland U.S.

Counselors at MKC:

Stephen Harris

Amy Cook

Sharon Fowler

Lisa Yrizarry

Joseph Yoshida

Dawn Michelle Chandler

Lauren Prepose-Forsen

Health Sciences, EMS, and Nursing

Health Sciences, EMS & Nursing counseling covers admission and graduation requirements, curriculum, program costs, financial aid, licensure and certification, and transfer to baccalaureate programs.

Counselors in Health Sciences, EMS, and Nursing:

Russell Kinningham, Lani Suzuki-Severa

Crystalyn Hottenstein, Kristy Yoshikawa

Culinary Arts

The Culinary Arts counseling office support students with career advising, scholarships, and provides information about culinary events and opportunities. According to Lori Maehara, Culinary events include networking opportunities with chefs at local events, scholarship recipe competitions, study abroad travel, guest chef demonstrations, and others.

Contact Lori Maehara at

Business, Legal, and Technology

KCC’s business, legal, and technology program offers 2-year degrees in Accounting, Information Technology, Marketing, and Paralegal. Counselors help students transfer and apply to related 4-year degrees at UH West O’ahu.

Contact Florentino Abara, Jr. at

Hospitality and Tourism

Contact Sheryl Fuchino-Nishida at

The counselors in support programs assist students with their starting goals. These support programs include disability support, student parents support, and veterans and active-duty military support programs, First-Year Experience (FYE), the Kuilei Outreach Program (for high school students), the International Student Program, TRIO Student Support Services, the Ka’au Program (mental health and wellness), the Kapo’oloku Program for Native Hawaiian Student Success, the Online Learner Success program, and the Pahihi Program (for returning adults).

Counseling in Support Programs

Disability Support

By ensuring equal access to classes, programs, and the physical environment, the Disability Support Services Office (DSSO) provides support services to students with disabilities.

For disability support, contact

First-Time College Students

For students attending Kapi’olani Community College for the first time, the First-Year Experience (FYE) provides a student’s first step into the college environment.

Counselors in FYE:

Logan Halley

LaVache Scanlan

Miki Crutchfield

High School Students

The Kuilei Outreach Program is a college transition pathway program for high school students who choose to continue their education at KCC. According to Sheldon Tawata, a counselor who has worked at KCC for 22 years, they assist high school students to make the smart decision to transition from high school to college.

Counselors in Kuilei Outreach Program:

Sheldon Tawata

Alfred Gonzales

International Students

The International Student Program aim to assist international students with their adjustment and success by providing them with cultural transition support and college skills training.

International students should contact Mimi Yen at or the Honda International Center at

Native Hawaiians

The Kapoʻoloku Program for Native Hawaiian Student Success reinforces the importance of education while focusing on the growth and development of individuals in accordance with Hawaiian history.


Online Learners

The Online Learners Success Program focuses on helping students prepare to learn in the online world. According to Kristie Souza Malterre, who has worked at KCC for 26 years, the program provides modules for students to learn self-management, time management, academic and tech support, and how to effectively interact and communicate in the online environment.

For online learners, contact Kristie Souza Malterre at

Returning Adults

The Pahihi Program for returning adults supports and assists students who is looking to return to college by assisting in transferring credits to KCC, identifying interests to properly pick a major, and in helping students understand general information that will be helpful in their academic journey at KCC.

For returning adults, contact Shannon Sakaue at

Student Parents

Counselors in Student Parents Programs provide referrals for childcare, legal services (custody battles, domestic violence, and others), community and online resources for parents, and provide scholarship search assistance.

For student parents, contact or Cathy Wehrman at

Veterans and Active-Duty Military

The Veteran and Military Resource Center (VMRC) assists students who are using military services connected benefits for their education. According to Teri Mitchell, a counselor at VMRC, these military services and benefits includes student veterans who have earned their education benefits, spouses and children who veterans have transfer their benefits to, active-duty service members who are using tuition assistance, and spouses of active-duty members who have spouse scholarships.

Contact Teri Mitchell at

Low-income, First-Generation College Students and Students with a Documented Disability

TRIO Student Support Services assists struggling students in their academic journey at KCC. The TRIO program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and supports low-income, first-generation college students, and students with documented disabilities.

Counselors in TRIO Student Support Services:

Brandon Chun, Dyan Kaneshiro

Mental Health and Wellness

The Ka’au Program for Student Mental Health and Wellness provides students and campus community with free, confidential mental health and wellness services supporting well-being, academic success, and personal development.

Contact Brooke Conway at