Good Evening President Wright, faculty, staff, family, friends, and fellow graduates.
Upon reflection of completing my final semester at Hawai’i Pacific University, I have experienced such a turbulent range of emotions. At one moment, I would feel as if on a high, almost unstoppable, that I could take on the world and nothing could hold me back. At other times, I would be extremely excited about the endless possibilities my life could take at this point.
Throughout my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to take classes from knowledgeable and passionate professors. I was able to participate in some of HPU’s many organizations and activities. HPU provided endless opportunities to get involved on campus and in the outside community. Through the psychology program, I was able to work with mental health patients, preparing me for my future career. The most beneficial lesson I have learned at HPU, however, is inherent in what makes HPU a unique and invaluable institution.
Malcolm Forbes stated, “Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
We, as graduates of HPU, were given the unique experience of being exposed to such a wide range of individuals from every corner of the world. Our peers and professors have uncovered various insights and lessons that, I know I will, and hope that each of you, will take long into the future. We all entered HPU with unique experiences that have made us distinctive. Within each of us, we hold our own wisdom, no more profound than the next, but valuable all the same. I have realized that I have so much to learn from each person with whom I come into contact. It is up to me to be open to learning from others’ past experiences. In return, I, too, have things to share with all those I meet.
I believe that this open-mindedness I have learned from all of you has translated into the acceptance and appreciation I have developed for those who have supported me throughout my college career. A handful of my family and friends are here today and I’d like to thank them all for supporting me though the challenges we have experienced in the past years. My mother, Barbara, my father, Brad, and my sister, Stephanie, remained by my side as I strived to uncover my innate potential. Believe me, they have put up with a lot! I love and thank you all!
I’d also like to thank those who could not be here tonight. In particular, my fiancé, Brandon Gilley, who is currently deployed in Iraq. He is comparable to Sigmund Freud’s concept of the “ego” – he keeps me sane and levelheaded and I cannot thank him enough for his unconditional support. He has taught me to be strong but reassures me that I’d always have a shoulder to cry on. My mother is sitting in the audience with a video camera that is going to be sent to Brandon and I just want to tell him, “love you, babe!”
I’d also like to thank the entire HPU community: the faculty, staff, and fellow students. Each individual has contributed to our successes, whether directly or indirectly. I believe the entire graduating class joins me in thanking all of you for your commitment and genuine interest in our success and future.
Thank you and Congratulations!