Thank you Dr. Correa.
Good evening President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, fellow graduates, outstanding professors, family, and friends. I am truly honored and privileged to speak to you on this occasion where together we celebrate the results of years of study.
Tonight, looking around I realize that I completed my undergraduate degree before most of my fellow graduates were even born. In fact, as Dr. Correa mentioned, my daughter just completed her first year of college. So in reality, she’s much closer in age to most of the graduates. 24 years after completing my undergraduate degree, I finally reached my goal. I must admit that my path to a graduate degree was long.
I would like to thank my family. They were patient and understanding when I didn’t have time for anything except studying and working. A special thank you to Keith, my other half, and my daughter Megan. They took over many of my responsibilities so that I could focus on my studies. They understood that as a single parent I had put my goals on hold for many years and encouraged me to put myself first. Mom and Dad, Grammy I am so glad you are here to celebrate with me.
I am also proud of the many other graduates here tonight that were able to balance a career and a family in pursuit of higher education. I speak from experience when I say I know how challenging it has been and I understand the sacrifices your family has made.
I’d like to thank my employer, Hawaiian Electric Company, for supporting all employees who want to further their education.
Looking back, deciding whether or not to return to school was frightening. I had been out of the classroom so long that I wasn’t even sure I remembered how to study and the world was a much different place than when I did my undergraduate work. Back then there was no such thing as the internet or textbooks with companion websites. We typed our papers on a typewriter and had to take them to class to turn them in.
But, I went ahead and applied. I was not certain I would even be accepted into the Executive MBA program, and then when accepted, I worried about my ability to successfully complete the program. But in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to further my education and that is what made me keep moving forward.
While working toward my MBA, there was one recurring theme that really struck me. The business world has also changed over the past 24 years. Profits seem to have taken priority over ethics and sadly it seems that sometimes there is no such thing as integrity. A friend explained integrity to me this way. He says that when faced with a questionable decision all you need to do is ask yourself three questions. Is it legal? Is it consistent with your goals and values? How would it look on the front page of the newspaper? Graduates, as we continue our education or go out into the work world, if we ask ourselves these same questions, we will do what is right.
On December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, it took courage and character. In closing, remember her words, “you must never be fearful about what you are doing when you know it is right.”
Congratulations and best wishes to all of you.