Hawai‘i CC Alumni of the Year Award Recipient Lacy Deniz Shows Power of Transfer Programs and Internships for Student Success

Business First! Pau Hana

Lacy Deniz, who was born and raised in Hōnaunau, always dreamed of being a television news reporter. She recalls watching coverage of the Merrie Monarch Festival as a girl and “just knowing deep down inside that I could really see myself doing that.”

She has achieved that dream, and now she is the traffic reporter on Hawaii News Now Sunrise.

“It’s really about doing a service to the community,” Lacy recently said of her job on the morning show. “Every morning I get to wake up and help people get to work in the morning.”

Before she was a news reporter, Lacy was a student at Hawai‘i Community College’s campus in West Hawai‘i, which was formerly in Kealakekua. She earned her Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts degree, graduating in 2012. She then transferred to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications.

We are thrilled to announced that Lacy has been selected as the recipient of Hawai‘i CC’s Alumni of the Year Award for 2018. She was honored during a Hawai‘i CC Alumni & Friends event on February 8 at the Manono campus in Hilo. She will also be the keynote speaker at the commencement ceremonies at the Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui campus in Kona on May 12, 2018. And we will continue to share her story and celebrate her throughout the year. Lacy is a pride of our Kauhale, and her story reminds us that dreams do come true.

Internship Experience


Lacy credits her experience at Hawai‘i CC and the support she received at the college with helping her secure an internship at Hawaii News Now that launched her journalism career.

“I really want to thank Hawai‘i Community College for helping me take that leap of faith and pushing me to the next level,” Lacy said. “They encouraged me to think about what I was going to do after college and figure out the steps to get there, and they backed me up through the process.”

Internships are so important for students, and Hawai‘i CC is pleased to provide those opportunities when students are enrolled and help them find opportunities after they graduate. We continue to try to develop more partnerships with local industry and businesses to provide our students placed-based learning opportunities through internships.



Transfer to Baccalaureate Programs

One of Hawai‘i CC’s main missions is to provide pathways to bachelor’s degree programs. Lacy is an excellent example of someone who began her studies close to home at Hawai‘i CC then transferred to a four-year university before entering the workforce.

Starting at Hawai‘i CC is a great option for many students. Last year, 449 Hawai‘i CC students transferred to baccalaureate institutions, which exceeded our goal.

Students who are in transfer programs comprise almost of half of the Hawai‘i CC student population. In fall 2017, 39% of our students were enrolled in “general and pre-professional” degree programs that are designed to prepare students for bachelor’s degree programs. General and pre-professional programs at Hawai‘i CC are Hawaiian Studies, Creative Media, Liberal Arts, and Natural Science. In addition, several programs like Fire Science and Early Childhood Education have agreements with specific universities that allow for seamless transfer to bachelor’s degree programs.

We have many degree pathways in place with the UH four-year campuses, and we continue to develop new ones. These efforts align with the Hawai‘i Graduation Initiative (HGI), which is part of the University of Hawai‘i Strategic Directions and seeks to boost the number of Hawai‘i residents with college degrees.

In addition, we are working to inform students about transfer options. On February 20, we hosted the first-ever UH Transfer Day. More than 30 representatives from programs at UH Hilo, UH Mānoa and UH West O‘ahu visited the Manono campus in Hilo and informed Hawai‘i CC students about options for transferring. The event was part of a UH system initiative, with other UHCC campuses hosting similar events in February.

Lacy’s story shows that when we create the pathways that allow students to follow their dreams, we can help dreams come true.

-        Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas



Hawai'i Community College 2018 Alumni of the Year Award recipient Lacy Deniz, center, was honored during a Hawai'i CC Alumni & Friends event on February 8. At right is Hawai'i CC Alumni & Friends President Bobby Yamane, and at left is Harold Nishimura, who received the Hawai'i Community College 2017 Alumni of the Year Award.