The Dragon Post

The Student News Site of Honokaʻa High and Intermediate School

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Looking to the Future with Mrs. Haitsuka Fernandez

Get to know our school’s dedicated, hard working college counselor!

Honoka’a High School is fortunate to have an array of caring adults to teach and mentor students on their way to adult life. One of the lovely smiling faces you are sure to have seen around campus is that of Mrs. Haitsuka Fernandez, our committed and tireless college and career counselor. As we move into the spring semester and the new year, the Dragon Post thought, “Who better to interview about our future goals, than Mrs. Haitsuka Fernandez?” You have questions and she has the answers!

DP: What made you want to become a college counselor?

Mrs. HF: My major in college was “Home Economics Education,” and the motto of Home Economics Ed. was “to improve the quality of life for individuals and families.”  Over the years I’ve spent in education, I’ve always tried to do this, and helping students get to college or have a plan for a career before they graduate seems like a good way to meet that motto. I also feel like it’s a calling put in my heart.

DP: How long have you been a college counselor?

Mrs. HF: Last year was my first year as the official college counselor, but I’ve been working on the periphery to help students and establish a college-going culture at Honoka’a for many many years.  I’ve been the manager of the Gear up grant, which focuses on college-going for our students, for over 10 years.

DP: What is the most rewarding part of counseling students to you?

Mrs. Haitsuka Fernandez finds joy in helping students.


Mrs. HF: When a student starts to believe in themselves and take action steps to make their own dream a reality.

DP: Do you have a favorite college/university?

Mrs. HF: I have a handful that I really like and this is mostly based on knowing the admissions representatives at that school and that they go above and beyond for Dragons.

DP: How do you handle students who are unsure about their postsecondary plans?

Mrs. HF: I’m still trying to figure out the best way to help students feel comfortable with not having a definite plan.  I think it’s pretty impossible to be sure when you are only 17 and it’s totally normal to change your mind.  I try to help normalize “changing your mind,” and I also encourage students to just “apply.” I say we are simply “opening doors,” so that later on, students can decide which one to walk through.  “Applying” is not “Committing.”

DP: So far, what has been the most exciting college presentation/opportunity for our school this year?

Mrs. HF: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really think that Cafe College is an effective program. It’s actually quite basic- it provides two things for students- Time and Space to work on whatever they need to get done.

DP: Is there any other important college/career-related information that you would like to get out to all students?

Mrs. HF: Yes- so many things!

  • All seniors need to complete the FAFSA and this year, they revamped it and it’s late to be released.  It’s open now but has lots of glitches so it’s best to wait one more week (mid-January) to fill it out.  Students and parents will first need to create their FSA ID in order to complete the FAFSA.
  • There are lots of scholarships available and they are all listed on the Scholarship Tracker which is located in multiple locations: on our website, in the bookmarks, in the SCOIR account, and in weekly emails.  The Hawaii Community Foundation scholarship is a very important one for every to apply for because it’s connected to over 300 scholarships.
  • Native Hawaiian students need to apply for KSBE scholarships and that deadline is coming soon.  One very important step for this scholarship bank is that students be registered with the Ho’oulu Data Registry through KSBE.  If students are not registered, it’s quite a process and they need to start now.  Younger students should go ahead and do this ASAP.
  • Mainland Community colleges are an excellent option for students to consider:
  • They are affordable
  • Everyone is admitted
  • Classes are smaller and professors are attentive
  • Many mainland community colleges have athletic teams and dorms- giving students a more typical college experience
  • Students can earn a 2-year trade degree OR major in liberal arts in preparation to transfer to a university.
Room A3 – Where the Magic Happens!

DP: What is one piece of advice you would give to underclassmen to prepare for college/future plans?

Mrs. HF: The best advice I have for underclassmen is to take the most challenging classes you can handle and earn the highest GPA possible. These are the two top things colleges will look at.  Younger students should also work on projects that they care passionately about.  Get involved and accomplish things that make a difference. It’s also a great idea to develop a relationship with your teachers so they can write strong letters of recommendation for you.  Take advantage of opportunities and develop leadership skills.

DP: Lastly, to end this interview, do you have a favorite inspirational quote or message you would like to spread to students?

Mrs. HF: Lots of them!

  • Applying is not Committing
  • We’re Opening Doors to Decide Which One to Walk Through Later
  • Talk doesn’t cook rice.
  • Community College is college
  • It’s not “how much is a college,” but rather “how much is a college for you” based on the aid they are offering
  • “I have come to realize that what distinguishes one child from another is not ability, but access. Access to education, access to opportunity, access to love.”  -Lauryn Hill


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  • P

    penaFeb 2, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    This is sooo important to know. I’m sad she’s leaving:((

  • K

    KeahiJan 29, 2024 at 4:58 pm

    Great advice. Thanks