Kibler, DevinAloha and good evening President Bannister, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, fellow graduates, families, honored guests, friends, and to those watching via the Internet, especially my wife, Elyse, and my family. It is a great honor and privilege for me to be here representing service members as a valedictory speaker for Military Campus Program.
I enlisted nearly twenty years ago after a very humble semester at a community college in Illinois, discovering it was not enough to pay tuition, class attendance was mandatory. As a young Marine I pursued my career and passed on my education. Fifteen years, six duty stations, four ships, and three continents later I recognized this short-sightedness and set my mind in motion. Another change of station interrupted my progress but it brought me to Hawaii Pacific University. HPU, known for its dedication to nontraditional students, provided me the opportunities and the flexibility I needed to finish 69 credit hours of challenging courses needed for a degree in Computer Science in just over two years. Without a doubt the award of a degree is a testament of will, yours and mine.
To my fellow service members and the adult learners who know about the special hardship that comes when returning to an education after life has intervened; this: The difference between young enlisted and young officers is not a degree, but an education in handling problems. Young enlisted Marines and Sailors show a remarkable capacity for laboring immediately toward a solution. Sometimes it is not the most effective, or efficient, but it is a solution. Officers beginning their careers after first obtaining a degree demonstrate a capacity for discovering details, nuance, and finding effective solutions – sometimes after the labor has already begun.
The adult learner can be the most awesome force I know of within this society – people who first experienced working problems and later learned to think around and through them. I implore you to take this experience and transform the problems of your fellows into their solutions. Recognize that the world beyond this hall needs you to further demonstrate the will that is acknowledged tonight; that society needs you to reach out to them as they reach out to you.
- Act on your awesomeness and do not content yourself with mere observation.
- Act courageously for the advancement of others and commit yourself to their benefit.
- Act honorably so that society might move forward with a truthful purpose.