President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, honored guests, staff, fellow graduates, family and friends. It is a tremendous honor for me to speak on behalf of the graduate class this evening.
There is a great Buddhist saying that goes “All that we are is the result of what we have experienced.” Fortunately for us, as graduates, we have enjoyed one of the most unique living-learning experiences available in higher education. Most of us came to Hawaii from somewhere else, not simply challenged by HPU’s rigorous academic curriculum, but also by vast cultural differences, significant language barriers, and momentous financial challenges -- all while creating a new life an ocean away from our friends and our families. Despite these obstacles, we are here tonight, together as one, in celebration, because we have achieved our goal of graduation and have successfully scaled what once seemed liked an insurmountable mountain.
Success, as you know, is not a solitary journey. It is, therefore, an incredible challenge to thank and recognize all of the extraordinary people in our lives that have made this experience possible…. If you are here tonight, in body or in spirit, in support of a graduate, this night is as much about you, as it is about us.
I once read that educators transform mirrors into windows for their students; our professors at HPU have demonstrated that self-reflection, through learning, frequently leads to clarity of thought. Graduates, tonight is the first night we peer clearly through that window, and as such, I’d like to thank the faculty of Hawaii Pacific University for not only providing us a continually challenging educational process, but also for encouraging us to continually challenge the educational process.
That being said, I’d like to personally acknowledge Dr. Cheryl Crozier-Garcia for leading me to my window. It is through you that I discovered that learning is not only the transferring of knowledge from teacher to student; it is also the sharing of knowledge from student-to-student, and often even from student-to-teacher. Thank you for teaching that fundamental lesson.
Well, congratulations Class of 2006, your presence here this evening demonstrates that you have indeed earned your place in the history of Hawaii Pacific University. You have proven that you are determined, ambitious, intellectually curious and actively seek to challenge your own conventions.
In closing, I’d like to share one final thought as we move on, move forward, and welcome the great adventure ahead…a thought that seems particularly relevant as we gather in the shadow of Diamond Head this evening.
Nobody trips over mountains. Rather, it is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find that you have crossed the mountain.
Graduates, tonight I wish to welcome you to the other side of the mountain. Thank you.