Thank you, Professor Combs.
Good evening President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, family, friends, and fellow graduates.
Here, at the beautiful Waikiki Shell, with New Year’s memories still fresh in our minds, we celebrate the realization of a collective goal--the completion of months, years of coursework, and the beginning of new life journeys for all… These journeys are shaped by the foundations only a solid education can provide. I am grateful to the outstanding professors of Hawaii Pacific University for inspiring me on my path toward becoming a high school English teacher here in my home state. After all, passionate, knowledgeable, and caring teachers not only help students to discover their true potential; they inspire the next generation of educators as well. As William Arthur Ward stated, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
Therefore, on behalf of the graduate student body, I’d like to thank the professors of HPU. Professors, you stand among the most influential people in our lives. Your wisdom and actions echo the words of William Arthur Ward. As a new educator myself, my mind and heart reach out in hopes of some day being the great teacher he spoke of, one who inspires others the way that I had been inspired countless times in school.
My path toward becoming a teacher began when I was still a young student myself, dreaming about what I would be when I “grew up.” I had always loved helping people, but teaching seemed like a daunting task, a job reserved for the extremely confident and articulate. By high school and college, I remember observing some of my teachers and wondering, Would I be able to demonstrate that kind of leadership? Could I even stand up and speak in front of a classroom of students?
My experiences in the HPU graduate classroom were extremely valuable because they helped me to see that I could find success in both myself and in the students I taught. Now, as an English teacher at James Campbell High School, I understand how demanding a career teaching is, but the knowledge that I have the power to make a difference in even one person’s life makes the challenge worthwhile. Witnessing students’ growth continues to renew my spirit each day.
I believe this event and these moments speak to the power of education, for there are over 625 graduates here tonight, all of whom will continue on in life with brighter possibilities and opportunities ahead. Teachers, you made it possible. At a time when our state is suffering from unprecedented cuts in education, and even new teachers are having difficultly finding work in understaffed schools, teachers, and their commitment to educating the youth, continue to persevere.
I’d like to conclude by thanking my loved ones, the people in my life who have supported me through the many joys and challenges of the past few years. My mom, dad, brothers and their families, grandparents, and the many aunties and uncles who complete our large family circle have stood by my side, always there to offer words of encouragement.
I’d also like to thank my fiancé, Brenton Arakaki. You see me as I am and I couldn’t have done it without you.
My friends and colleagues, I thank you for all of your understanding and support.
And to the entire HPU community: a final, warm thank you! Congratulations, everyone, and good luck!