KAUNAKAKAI, Hawaii — On Friday, the University of Hawaii held a commencement ceremony on Molokai for 42 graduates.

The graduation, which took place at the UH Maui Molokai Education Center in Kaunakakai, is usually held every four years. However, the last graduation took place in 2016 — the university did not host the 2020 ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

Graduates honored in the ceremony include Molokai residents who earned degrees at the Molokai Education Center and other UH Campuses. More than half of the graduates are Native Hawaiian. They received degrees in a variety of subjects, from dental hygiene to early education. Twenty-three students earned their certification as nurse aide, which will help fill a critical need on Molokai. 

“A lot of kids think that they can’t do it because they come from Molokai and they don’t have a lot of opportunities, but this year I found that a lot of people want to help you, especially here at the college,” said UH graduate Sonni Han. 

The ceremony included the first-ever doctoral graduate on Molokai to be hooded. Molokai native Pūlama Lima earned a PhD in anthropology from UH Manoa. 

“Molokai is our biggest teacher and the best way to show appreciation for that is to come home and devote yourself to community work,” said Lima.