Denise Yamamoto has worked at Mililani High School since 1999, these last 11 as a college and career counselor. The UH West O‘ahu alumna (BA ’03) says UHWO definitely prepared her for the master’s degree required of high-school counselors. “I appreciated the high level of instruction at West O‘ahu,” she said. “Many of my graduate courses were nearly identical to my undergraduate courses.”
A proud product of Hawai‘i’s public schools, she graduated from ‘Aiea High School and shared, “My heart is with the public schools, and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”
Why did you attend UHWO?
It suited my personal situation best. I was a non-traditional student when I attended – married with two children. When I graduated from high school, I attended UH Mānoa for about a year, then life happened. I eventually became the Educational Assistant for the College and Career Coordinator and returned to school. Becoming the College and Career Counselor at Mililani was my full-circle moment.
I attended Leeward CC first (AA ’01). When I decided to pursue counseling, UHWO seemed like a natural fit. It offered the degree I wanted (Social Science – Psychology), and the convenient class times and location were strong pluses. In addition to my BA, I obtained a certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling. This opened my eyes to another avenue in counseling and provided me with options.
Why was your time at UHWO special?
When I attended UHWO, there were many non-traditional students. It was a place where I belonged. We were all juggling school with work, our families and other responsibilities. Class was a time to share ideas, values, or even great recipes. I don’t believe I would have had this same experience and feeling at another campus.
What course are you glad was required, ‘though you would never have chosen it?
While there were a lot of great classes, I’m really glad I took Statistics and Research/Methods from Dr. Joe Mobley when I was an undergraduate. I took these exact courses in my master’s program, so it was great to have extensive experience with the material. In addition, I really enjoyed Educational Psychology with Dr. Larry Fujinaka. He inspired me to be a better educator, and I value him as a mentor and as a person.
As a college counselor, what kinds of students do you think match up well with UHWO?
Those who would benefit from a smaller school setting, and would appreciate a nurturing, supportive environment. UHWO also offers degrees not found at other campuses through unique articulation agreements, so it’s a perfect place for students to pursue their interests and earn a bachelor’s degree. And for Mililani students, it’s much closer to home, which means not sitting in traffic for hours!