Valedictory Speakers

Wilson, Kasey

Thank you Dr. Jones.

President Wright, Members of the Board of Trustees, HPU faculty and staff, cherished family, distinguished guests, treasured friends and those joining us via the webcam from around the world: Aloooha!

When I first learned that I would be speaking here this evening, I was stunned. It is especially gratifying for me to be speaking here today because, those who know me, know that I am a graduation junkie. I rarely miss a graduation. I usually stand right over there and embarrass myself by cheering too loudly. I look forward to seeing the look of triumph and sharing the incredible emotion, joy and excitement of the moment. For me, attending the graduation and watching the students celebrate the achievement of their hard won goals is a validation of our purpose and our mission here at HPU.

We have much to celebrate tonight. As graduates, we are celebrating the accomplishment of a major life goal and the new opportunities that will now be available to us, because of this achievement. Each of the graduates has a unique story. Some of you came here from other countries without knowing the language and had to learn new customs in addition to handling the demands of course work in a foreign language. Some of you came from the mainland to what may have seemed like a foreign culture when you first arrived. Some of you are adult students, like me, balancing career, family and educational demands and having to make truly impossible choices where you gave up precious family moments to complete your degree. Some of you are not just adult students, but also members of the military community. As a veteran I know that your job asks things of you that most people cannot imagine and because of that, your educational journey may have been filled with detours.

But, regardless of your situation: whoever you are, wherever you came from, whatever it took, you did it. You overcame. You persevered. You accomplished your goal. The commitment to education is a decision to strive for more, to fight for a future despite the past; to embrace the hope of a better life. Today, we celebrate that we are one step closer to reaching that better life of which we dream.

Today, we also celebrate the love and commitment of our families, friends, churches and other networks that helped us to reach this milestone. None of us stands here alone today. We honor and celebrate all those who believed in us, sacrificed for us and who brought us to this moment.

In my life, I have been very fortunate to be cared for and supported by my husband, my children and the rest of my family, and, by my colleagues at HPU. I am particularly indebted to the other students in the FlexTRACK MBA program. We bonded as a community. Together we found a way to support one another and make it through and I celebrate your friendship and loyalty which will always be the best part of my memories of the MBA program.

My motivation to earn, first my associate’s degree, then the bachelor’s degree and finally the MBA, has been to be someone that my siblings, my children, and now my granddaughter can look up to and of whom they can be proud. I celebrate my love for them which has brought me here today.

Twenty years ago, I was a single mother on active duty in the Army and stationed at Schofield Barracks. The road from taking courses in the military campus program, trying to claw my way to an associates degree-to this place, behind the podium, has been arduous and convoluted but I have learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you think that you have faltered or outright failed. What matters is that you keep getting back up and taking another step forward. All of the graduates here tonight know that lesson well.

As we go forward from here, we will take with us our education, the friendships with students and faculty that we have developed and the knowledge that we know how to accomplish a goal. We may or may not be able to change THE WORLD but, we have already changed our own worlds and that is something to celebrate!

Mahalo nui loa and Aloha.