Abordonado, Andrew Kekoa
Good evening President Wright, members of the board of trustees, distinguished faculty, honored guests, fellow graduates, families and friends. Thank you all for gathering for this wonderful occasion.
Before proceeding to my main speech, I would like to thank a few people that I love, for it is their support that has allowed me to be here today and continue to dream for the future.
Thank you Dr. Juarez, Dr. Cheng, Dr. Fung, Dr. McCreary, Dr. Masuda, Dr. Zanella, Dr. Hedlund, and Dr. Davidann for your kind mentorship and all that you have taught me. I promise to use what I have learned from you to the best of my ability to make a positive impact on the world. I am eternally grateful to you all.
There is a Latin saying, “aut viam inveniam, aut faciam,” which means either find a way, or make one. This represents the faith and support that Dr. Saundra Schwartz has placed in me. Thank you for believing in me all these years and for encouraging me to pursue beyond which that I can see.
To my brother, Andre-Alan, thank you for teaching me that growing older does not mean losing one’s innocence.
To my sister Andrea, thank you for teaching me that the root of bravery is self-acceptance.
To my sister Ashley, the eternal believer in love, thank you for giving me hope that there might be love for me.
To my Herculean father, thank you for teaching me that true strength lies not in the body, but within the heart.
Lastly, I must thank the person who has helped to cultivate my voice and my spirit; she is the epitome of scholarship and human kindness and understanding; she is the WO-MAN, and yes, my mommy, Dr. Valentina Abordonado.
And now onto my speech….
Eminent author and poet, Maya Angelou, once said:
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
Throughout my life, I have struggled to answer the simple question, “Where are you from?”
Due to my nomadic upbringing, I have been fortunate enough to have lived across the United States of America and in parts of Asia.
And yet, I have always wondered if there is a place where I could settle and ultimately, call home.
Coming to Hawai`i Pacific University, a place so rich with diversity, I have been able to meet people from across the globe. Namely, I have been fortunate to have befriended people from France, China, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Kenya, Korea, and Japan, to name a few countries. All of these friends understand what it is like to live a culturally rich life, but at the same time, desperately search for a single place called home.
Like many nomads do, I continue to travel in search of answers. Last year I traveled Hokkaido, Japan on a study abroad program through Hawai`i Pacific University. It was there that I discovered where home is, not only for me, but essentially for all people.
There, I studied Japanese and conducted a field study on the Ainu People of Hokkaido. From time to time, I would stay at the Ainu village, known as Shiraoi. The Ainu people have most fascinating culture. They see themselves as extensions of the earth and extensions of each other. I became close with many of the Ainu people, and when it came time for me to part from them, I was told “You will also always belong with us, for we love you.”
It was at that moment that I realized, home is not where one hangs their hat, rather, it is wherever you find yourself able to say the words, “I love you.”
To every person that I have ever met or learned from: I want you all to know that there is an element of love in the connections we have made. It is within these connections that I find my home, and it is my hope that you all find a home in love.
I bid that you all live, laugh, and most of all, love.