“They have a college on Maui?!!!”



I just heard from a classmate I lost touch with 58 years ago.  News of Kilauea’s eruptions made Nini Fitzpatrick think of the year she and I spent at a junior college on Maui and she tracked me down.  Didn’t know they had a college on Maui? Well, they had one between 1950-’69.  “They have a college on Maui?”

I was 16 when I entered Maunaolu in Paia.  I hadn’t finished high school.  Still haven’t. I had completed two whole years of formal schooling (since fifth grade!), all but my senior year at McKinley High School in Honolulu, when we sailed back to Japan.  I was supposed to do my senior year by correspondence but I–well, I just didn’t.

When we reached Japan, I asked Skipper if I could fly back to Maui to go to school so I’d be near my boyfriend.  He said sure.  Mum was shocked and saddened, not only to find out I wanted to leave home for a year but that Dad had given his permission without consulting her.  During the time I was gone it didn’t help that the song from Sound of Music became popular, with the words:


I am sixteen going on seventeen
I know that I’m naive
Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet
And willingly I believe
I am sixteen going on seventeen
Innocent as a rose
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies
What do I know of those
Totally unprepared am I
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared am I
Of things beyond my ken
I need someone older and wiser
Telling me what to do
You are seventeen going on eighteen
I’ll depend on you


Totally unprepared are you
To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you
Of things beyond your ken
You need someone older and wiser
Telling you what to do
I am seventeen going on eighteen
I’ll — take care of you

Fortunately for Mum my boyfriend’s mother was a good friend of hers and agreed to take over as loco parentis.  I would live in the college dorm during the week and come stay with their family on weekends.  Both mothers urged me to enter my boyfriend’s high school instead and finish my senior year.  But there didn’t seem any point to that when I had already been accepted at college.

Maunaolu probably accepted my application because they were flattered that someone so far away had heard of their tiny, obscure, unaccredited college.  Maybe they thought it would look good to mention casually in brochures that they drew students from as far away as Japan.  As a matter of fact, they had also attracted a princess from Thailand as well as one of Pearl Buck’s adopted daughters.

The college administration didn’t know that I picked their school by default because they were the closest college to my boyfriend in Kahului.  They didn’t care that I was a year away from a high school diploma.

So I flew back to Maui and attended Maunaolu for one year.  During that year, providentially, it became accredited and I was able to transfer to International Christian University, a top bi-lingual college in Tokyo.

Maunaolu did not continue as a college for very long.  Years later when I wanted to apply for an external (now virtual) degree in journalism from the University of the State of New York Regents College (now Excelsior) and needed a transcript from Maunaolu, I was told that the college had become a home for runaways.  The college registrar had taken all the school records home with her in a cardboard box when the college closed down and my only hope of getting a transcript was to track her down.

I finally located her on the other side of the island.  She told me she couldn’t send me a copy of my transcript because the seal she had to stamp it with had broken in half.  She apologized, saying the document wouldn’t be official without it.  I made so many phone calls to Maui I’m a little dazed as to how I finally did get the transcript.  I think Cal State Long Beach, which I had attended, made a copy of theirs and sent it straight to Albany.

Anyway the point is if any of you ever attended Maunaolu and need a transcript, I’m sorry to say you’re out of luck.


P.S. On a hunch I Googled “Maunaolu Junior College pictures.”  In 1961 I remember someone taking a photo of several of us students sitting on the front lawn–for a postcard.  Sure enough, here it is.  I’m sitting on the far right.

.Image result for Maunaolu Junior College pictures

(Mostly written in 1999)


About Jessica Renshaw

This entry was posted in amusing anecdotes, biography, friends, human interest anecdotes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “They have a college on Maui?!!!”

  1. tedrey says:

    I never knew the slightest bit of this year of your life!

  2. September 1960-June 1961, the year Diggie Dee died. Mum stopped to see me on Maui on her way from Japan to Madison for the funeral.
    It was the only contact I had with any of the family other than airgrammes for all nine months. Where were you and what were YOU doing that year?

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