Valedictory Speakers

Park, Donald R.

President Wright, Chairman Aull, Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Students, Families, and honored Guests.

First I would like to thank everyone for the great honor of addressing you this evening. I would like to recognize my wife, Doreen, and my daughter, Brandi. My family has been my inspiration for over 16 years. I would also like to thank the faculty and staff of Hawai'i Pacific University and the United States Navy. There have been so many people that have made this day possible that I could never name them all.

Almost one hundred years ago my great grandfather, a sustenance farmer from North Carolina, donated land to build one of the first elementary schools in the county. My grandfather was one of the first students to attend this school. My father, his father, and his father before him, all knew that education was the key to success. My family, a hundred years ago, had little or no education. But the dream was always the same for every generation. The dream was success through education.

I graduated from high school in 1973 and although both my brothers attended college, my dream of an education, and my parent's dream for me, seemed out of reach. It wasn't until many years later that I was able to start on my life long goal to earn a college degree. In my life, as in everyone's life, obstacles appeared in the way. There were many setbacks. Sometimes I had to concentrate on short-term goals, earn a living, or since I am a military service member, duty to my God, my country, and my family often took precedence over my life long goal. But I never once lost site of this goal.

Hawai'i Pacific University's Satellite Program brought my life long goal within reach. It was only by offering classes near my home and job during evening, lunch, and weekends that HPU made attaining a degree possible for me and for many other military members stationed in Hawaii. I sincerely thank HPU for offering this unique program. The Satellite Program provides a wonderful opportunity to our Military community.

Lastly I'd like to say that education opens doors. The more you learn the more you can learn. I cannot think of a single situation that education does not make easier or more fulfilling. Education brings better health, a longer life, and a happier life. Education gives us the opportunity to change things, to teach, to learn, and to make this world a better place to live.

To the 2000 graduating class I say "You have worked hard and made many sacrifices. You now have the tools to teach, to lead, and to be successful in everything you do. It is our job now to become the leaders, to train our youth, to explore the world, to make new discoveries, and to shape the world of the future. Never stop learning, never stop setting goals in your life, and always be there to lend a helping hand, as people have helped you."