Early College launches Explorers program to support English Learners


Photo courtesy of Skye Yasuda

The Early College Explorers and Mrs. Marirose Daproza celebrate the completion of their summer courses. Front row (left to right): Felila Misi, Elisa Lina Sim, Hemrina Kejmen, Elena Maamaloa, Elizabeth Tuese. Back row (left to right): Laninbwij Nelson, Kiu-Me Nani John, Kcjalani Francis, Marirose Daproza, Meri Eram, Suchuka Wesly, Vangiclynn Tuese, Joshua Berdon.

This past summer, the McInerny Early College program began their Early College Explorers program.

The current Early College Outreach Coordinator Skye Yasuda says, “The McInerny Foundation is the whole reason why we have the Early College program in the first place: to help lower-income students get the chance to further their education. [English Learners] are included in that percentage, but as the more underrepresented part of our program, we decided to reach out directly to them and then start up on this new cohort.”

So far, the Early College Explorers’ program offers three courses: SD 100, ENG 100E, and PACS 108. 

SD 100 is similar to the Introduction to College course and helps students prepare for more difficult college courses. 

ENG 100E is an English 100 (Composition I) course tailored specifically to EL students. Meanwhile, PACS (Pacific Islander Studies) 108 was chosen as a course for this program to honor many of the students’ heritage and “allow them to take a class to learn more about it,” Yasuda says. 

The program alleviated the students’ worries about college courses and the college admissions process. Early College Explorer Elena Maamaloa (‘22) says that the program helped her “to get out of the thinking too much about college expenses, and stressing out [about] how to get into college.” 

Maamaloa believes that “the highlight of this program is breaking the barriers that I had about going to college in the future.” 

Fellow Early College Explorer Laninbwij Nelson (‘22) adds that the program helped him “build confidence […] without any worry about finances, how to apply for scholarships, and much more.” He feels that the Explorer program allowed him to get “used to college life and [know] that there are lots of opportunities out there that can help with college needs.”

Waipahu High School teacher Marirose Daproza (“Mama D”)  taught the Explorers their first course, SD 100. Despite the challenge of covering the course material in five days, Daproza says, “With the time and hard work that the students put in, they all were able to get all things done, from turning in their assignments, to planning their presentations to planning their graduation performance.” Daproza says the students’ hard work and dedication led them to succeed in the course.

The ECE program concluded with a small graduation ceremony for the students. After only meeting her students online, Daproza says, “It was a great feeling seeing my students in person again. Not only that, but it was also seeing their smiles as they received their certificate that made both the students and my hard work worth it.” 

Daproza also conveys her gratitude to the Early College team that continuously supported the students and “cheered them on to succeed.”