Valedictory Speakers

Hofwolt, Gerald L.

President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees of Hawai'i Pacific University, members of the faculty, fellow students, parents and guests. Aloha and good evening.

Twenty months ago, the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, riveted America and the world. It was an auspicious time for new beginnings but one week later, I found myself with 28 other students in orientation for our weekend master's degree program for business administration. We were to be the sixth Weekend MBA class at HPU, which ideally marries the pursuit of higher education while continuing a full-time career.

At an evening session, the faculty informed us that we would be learning only a small portion from our professors; the majority of our learning would come from each other and through personal study. It was a watershed statement. Learning can be painful; there was a lot of learning.

What I found, and I am sure this experience is shared by many of you, was that the enduring friendships I have formed with my WMBA 6 classmates have stood the test of classroom critiques and the group study sessions. They have taught me a lot about myself and where we all fit into this sphere we call our world.

In her poem, On the Pulse of the Morning, Maya Angelou wrote:

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again."

That's our collective challenge this evening, to use our newly acquired skills. Her words challenge us as we depart this university and enter the crucibles of decision making in our classrooms, hospital rooms or the boardrooms to live with character and personal integrity and to make a personal commitment to create change, knowing that although we are but a single candle on a dark night of an indifferent world -- we have the power within us to change and influence the lives around us. And, by living with character and courage, we can change the world.

Mahalo Nui Loa.