Thank you Vice President Cyboron for that gracious introduction.
Aloha and good evening President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, fellow graduates, families, friends, and to those all around the world watching via the Internet.
I am greatly honored to represent Military Campus Programs on this wonderful occasion. Hawaii Pacific University is something special to me because of the tireless efforts of the staff in the Military Campus Program. From helping students register for classes from halfway around the world, to conducting individual degree counseling, the men and women in all aspects of the MCP program deserve a great deal of gratitude for their work. The online program was vital to my success, especially while completing my Associate Degree on a six month deployment. Without this beneficial program, many military members would have had to put their degrees on hold until after finishing their own deployments.
I graduated high school with a 2.1 grade point average, and continued to “meet the status quo” in all other aspects of my life. After two years of gaining more debt than income, I enlisted in the United States Navy in 2001 and shipped off for boot camp. This was one of the best decisions in my life. In the Navy, I learned that with hard work and dedication, you can succeed. I also gained a great professional foundation for my career path ahead. I am proud of the many graduates here today that were able to balance work, family, and education in the pursuit of a better life.
I implore all my fellow graduates today to fight the urge to become idle. If you are continuing on to further education, put your best foot forward and strive to achieve your goals. If you are headed into the job market, utilize the great tools given to us by our professors. Continue to better yourselves personally and professionally. In the words of my late grandfather, “don’t let a day in life pass you by without learning something new.”
I would like to thank all of the teachers and staff here at HPU that were crucial to my success. I would like to thank my parents for their patience and their teachings over the years, as I know it was never easy with a kid like me. I especially want to thank my mother for being able to come tonight from the blistering cold of Minnesota to celebrate this day with all of us. I want to thank all of my friends and family for the support and prayers given to help me achieve my goals. Special thanks go to my daughter Nadia Makamae; although she is only one year old, she has been the inspiration for me to push through the tough times in hopes of a better life for us as a family. Most of all, I would like to thank my fiancée Rebecca. Becky, without your love and support, I would not be standing here today. Everyday I wake up and thank the Lord that you came into my life.
While this night is a cause for great celebration, I would like to draw some reflection to our true heroes. Right now, there are thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen standing watches and patrols all around this world, protecting freedom and liberty. Please take the time out of your day thank them and their families for all that they sacrifice to protect us. May we never forget what they are fighting for.