Helping to transition to the future


On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, the Transition Fair Ala Hele Holomua: Pathways to Success was held in the Multi-Purpose Building from 6 pm to 8 pm to assist students and their families in making informed decisions about life after high school. All students, including students with special needs, were able to access various resources and supports that are available for them after graduating from high school.

“So, we are bringing resources or people or agencies that can help students for when they leave high school. Some of our students have special needs, maybe learning challenges or might have extra challenges trying to obtain or get employment. So, the resources that are coming out are agencies that help individuals find and keep jobs, help individuals have tutoring services, and when they attend colleges, as well as some of our high needs students may need help with independent living skills like cooking and like making appointments and that sort of stuff,” said Transition Coordinator Raquel Bernholz.

The evening started off with guest speaker, Michelle Manfredi, who talked about overcoming challenges while growing up with a disability.

Next was keynote speaker Gensen Rabacal who is an example of someone who has a disability but never gave up on reaching his dream said Bernholz.

“He’s going to share his story about how difficult it is to have a disability, like being blind, and being able to achieve your goals of going to college and then talk to the benefits of having the support from the transitions services,” said Bernholz.

Throughout the night, there was music and dancing acts, food, and prize giveaways. Students and parents walked to different booths to talk with vendors and agencies to get information about college opportunities, vocational job training, social security, legal aid, and self-advocacy, to name a few. Some of the agencies included: Leeward Community College, Alu Like, Inc., Honolulu Community College, Hawai`i State Department of Health, Legal Aid Society of Hawai`i, Easter Seals of Hawai’i, and Goodwill Industries of Hawai`i, Inc..

NHIS parent Kiilani Cornell was happy that there were resources to help her son with college and job training.

“I like it because they have a transition for my child that will graduate from high school and he wants to attend college and they give a lot of information and also job training for him to try and go on in life and to live life the way he wants to on his own after graduation,” said Cornell.

Keynote Speaker Gensen Rabacal enjoyed interacting with others.

“I loved meeting different people that I could add to my own network and I like that I could be a network for somebody else as well and yeah just meeting different people I think that was the main highlight tonight,” said Rabacal.

Bernholz said that in the past not too many people come out to benefit from the Transition Fair.

So, in the past, we’ve struggled with having families come out so what we’ve done is we’ve mailed home letters to get more participants. Last year we had 16 families come out to participate in our Transition Fair. We like to see that number go up to maybe 50,” said Bernholz.

Participants gave suggestions on how to improve the event.

Honolulu Community College counselor, Jill Teraizumi said, “I think it’s really heartfelt here. This is my first time at Nanakuli doing the Transition Fair and I actually was really impressed. I felt that there’s a lot of community-school involvement, there’s a lot of support, and you know maybe getting the word out to other students who may just be interested in college resources. Maybe that could be one suggestion but other than that, it’s been such as great experience.”

NHIS junior, Joshua Kauhi Branigan said there should be more resources at the fair.

“More activities, different places to go, more opportunities,” said Kauhi Branigan.

Teraizumi said it’s important for vendors like her to attend events like this.

“It’s extremely important to link students to the resources we have at Honolulu Community College and we do have specific offices that do handle students with disabilities and then we have other office support offices for Native Hawaiian, we have support offices for Wellness Center, for Behavioral counseling so we have a variety of services. I’m part of the Academic Counseling office, so I help students with academic issues, graduation audits making sure theyʻre on the right track,” said Teraizumi.

When asked if we should continue having the Transition Fair, Rabacal insisted that we should.

“Oh, absolutely! It’s a great way to see what resources are out there as far as employment or as far as college as far as helping students throughout the school. I think it’s important to see that there are resources out there and there are ways to become successful,” said Rabacal.