Associate Justice cites strength of UH Law School's Evening Part Time Program

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Oct 17, 2016

Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna
Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna

Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna '82 had high praise for students in the UH Law School’s Evening Part Time Program – and the program itself – during a recent celebration to honor the 100th graduate of the eight-year-old program. As the featured keynote speaker, McKenna also shared her own personal story of night school and the impact it made on her early life.

McKenna compared the strength, resilience and conscientious attitude she witnessed when her Japanese mother went to night school to the same strengths she now sees in the UH participants in the part-time program. She also highlighted the strength and mutual support of so many of her own Richardson classmates who worked their way through Law School while also raising families, long before there was an Evening Part Time Program to make this difficult balancing act somewhat easier.

The Evening Part Time Program, launched in 2008, was designed for working professionals, and specifically for those who have job, financial or family obligations during the day. Student participants and graduates have already brought a remarkable range of skills and interests to the William S. Richardson School of Law.

“From a young age I felt the struggles of those who choose to improve themselves through evening education programs while working full-time,” said McKenna. “Forty-nine years ago, when I was nine, my father suddenly died of a heart attack. We were living in Japan where my dad had been employed by the U.S. government. My mom had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen but had lived in Japan her entire life. She now had to immediately reenter the work force to support us.

“Three weeks after my dad died, she took a job as a front-desk clerk at the U.S. military hotel at Yokota Air Force Base in the Tokyo area. In order to improve her skills, my mom went to night classes on base to learn typing and shorthand. As a nine- and ten-year-old, I went with her to these classes and served as her English-Japanese interpreter and translator.”

McKenna added praise for the evening students for the way they exemplify the spirit and grace with which Chief Justice Richardson lived his own life.

“As CJ Richardson did, live your life with grace,” McKenna advised the assembled alumni and students. “Remember, it is not necessary to be disagreeable when you disagree. Be humble, be kind, be understanding, and have a smile, whether for a friend or foe. And, as often happened with CJ, your grace, humility, kindness, understanding and smile might just turn a foe into a friend.”

The Evening Part Time Program has grown regularly since its inception, and this Fall has a new class of 18 students. The program consistently ranks high nationally, recently named in 28th place in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2017, up from 30th place a year ago. Associate Faculty Specialist Liam Skilling ’07 is the Director of the Evening Part Time Program and also the Academic Success Program.

Law School Dean Avi Soifer spoke briefly about the crucial role played by Professor Hazel Beh ’91 in getting the Evening Program started. He urged alumni and friends to continue to contribute to a scholarship fund that supports Evening Program students, established in honor of Professor Beh.

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