To help address healthcare challenges during the pandemic, the Wailea Community Association began to financially support the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College nursing program in hopes of increasing healthcare resources for their homeowners and the community at large.

Nearly two years into the pandemic, the association remains committed to helping the nursing students become certified nurses, with contributions of more than $18,000 to the nursing program.

The Wailea Community Association (WCA) has covered all the licensure expenses for UHMC’s nursing graduates in 2020 and in 2021. The costs can be up to $450 per student, including fees for the national test and travel to O‘ahu to take it. WCA covered these costs for Maui’s new registered nurses and licenses practical nurses.

The WCA also is helping all 70 enrolled nursing students prepare for their NCLEX licensure examinations by providing $494 per student to offset the increased cost of software that features practice tests and simulations, tutoring, books and more to increase students’ testing success.

This software enables UHMC’s nursing graduates to pass their board examinations on their first try at a rate higher than the national average. Nursing students already were paying nearly $500 every semester for their share of the software when the company increased its prices.

UHMC nursing program director Anne Scharnhorst said with the recent huge price jump of the software, the program would have had to eliminate using the software if not for the contributions by WCA to offset the increases.

“The WCA’s gifts have encouraged nursing students not only to complete their licensing, but also to continue their education” Scharnhorst said. “WCA’s influence will be felt for years to come on Maui.”

The students have given thousands of COVID vaccinations and boosters through mass clinics, specialized community clinics and at the UHMC health clinic.

Bud Pikrone, General Manager of the Wailea Community Association, said: “We have all learned how valuable this program and these students and graduates are to our Maui community.”

Jocelyn Romero Demirbag, University of Hawaiʻi Director of Development, Maui Nui, said: “We have never experienced this kind of direct commitment to students before where they feel so cared for and supported and where it makes a direct financial impact for entire families.”

Nursing graduates said the financial support has given them more financial freedom to better balance work, school and their personal lives.

“I am really touched by this contribution you have made to our community,” nursing student Natasha Gronski wrote to WCA. “It makes me feel more connected to our Maui ‘ohana and inspires me to contribute the best way I can, not just professionally, but personally as well.”