Valedictory Speakers

Karns, Heidi

Thank you Dean Jones

President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, honored guests, fellow graduates, family, friends, and those joining us via the web-cam including fellow HPU social work graduates…ALOHA and Good Evening!

It‘s a tremendous honor for me to speak on behalf of the graduate class this evening. As Dr. Seuss the beloved writer of children's stories would say,
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

I’d like to personally acknowledge Dr. Mary Sheridan for her hard work and dedication to the accreditation process of both the Bachelors and Masters social work programs. Dr. Sheridan, you are an inspiration to me and everyone who is in your presence. As my mentor for eight years, it is through you that I have learned the true definition of a Social Worker.

Eight years ago I was one of the first seven graduates to receive a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Hawaii Pacific University. Tonight my fellow classmates and I will be the first students to receive a Masters of Social Work degree from HPU.

We made it through endless Saturday classes together, personal challenges, numerous presentations, hundreds of hours of pro bono internship—which does sound better than we work for free--oh and last but certainly not least the countless cups of coffee
(Starbucks, Thank you)!

Graduates, as you walk across the stage tonight remember, as Dr. Seuss says: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care.

So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that life’s a great balancing act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Oh the places you will go!

Jason, my husband there is no way I would be standing here tonight if it were not for your never ending belief in me. There were days I wanted to quit or give up; you held my hand and encouraged me. I am honored to have you as my husband.

Alyssa, my beautiful daughter, you have given me the greatest title of all…being your mother. I thank you for always helping me with my homework, even if you are only 2 ½. Honey this night is for you.

Along with all the other children out there tonight, I encourage you to never, ever say you cannot do something. And to always believe in yourself.

To my parents and brother and sister you are the foundation to which I stand on tonight. I thank you for always being there and supporting me in all my decisions no matter what road I chose. And thank God for unlimited long distance!

My friends, I thank you for being so understanding on this journey.

And last but certainly not least I would like to thank the men and women of the United States military for protecting our freedom. Please come home safely.

My fellow classmates, Dr. Seuss asked, “Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! Ninety-eight and three quarters percent guaranteed. Kid, you’ll move mountains!

You’re off to Great Places! Today is [our] day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!

Mahalo Nui Loa!