President Bannister, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and guests:
I have a master’s degree in Business Administration from Harvard.
On numerous occasions, this has sparked the same question from classmates and professors: “Why are you here getting another master’s?"
The typical post Harvard Business School career path is to be an elite management consultant or a Wall Street banker. The expectation that comes along with these positions is that you will subjugate everything else in your life to your work. You get paid handsomely – but, you earn it! I’d already worked similar life-consuming hours as an intelligence officer in the Navy deployed to the Middle East. I knew what that life was like and it entailed significant sacrifices.
My family and relationships are more important to me than making tons of money. When the opportunity arose for me to return to Hawai‘i and work with a friend on building businesses and creating companies, I jumped at the chance. The pay would be less in the beginning, but I would learn a skill set that I could use to build companies. And, when you build companies they can grow beyond you. More importantly, I would be able to build a life that prioritizes family and community.
In order to keep learning and augment my professional development, I began taking night classes at HPU in the Master’s in Communication program. I learned a lot along the way.
From my classes on conflict resolution, I learned to empathize better, to listen more, and how to be a peace maker. These classes probably saved my marriage. I learned how to lead challenging teams through monumental projects, deepening my reserves of patience. Thank you to all my teammates.
The courses helped me navigate challenging times in my own life. Isn’t that what the best education is all about? Learning theories and skills that you will take with you throughout life, that color how you see the world, and that prepare you to make a positive contribution to society? HPU did that for me. It helped me grow as a person and as a student of life.
I specifically want to honor several of my professors who made this experience memorable for me: Dr. Malia Smith, Dr. Steve Combs, Dr. John Hart, Mr. Kerry Gershaneck, Mr. Tom DiGrazia, Mr. John Windrow, and Mr. Mark Cusmano. I look forward to continuing our friendship.
Here is my encouragement to my fellow graduates. It is why I am here in Hawai‘i, it’s why I’m celebrating eight years of marriage to my best friend and beautiful bride Natalie, and it’s why I have a precious four-and-a-half-month-old son, Zade.
When you think about your future, remember to: “Build a life, not just a career.”
God bless and mahalo. Congratulations class of 2012.