President Wright, members of the board of trustees, faculty, students, family, and guests. I am honored to speak as a representative for the graduate students at summer commencement 2002.
In my hand I hold a book by Paulo Coelho: “The Alchemist”. It is a story about an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago who has a recurring dream about a treasure, which is buried near the pyramids in Egypt. Santiago wants to pursue his dream of finding his treasure, but he is afraid of what awaits him on his journey. Still unsure, but not wanting to miss his opportunity, he decides to leave his home and search for it. And by the end of the story, Santiago finds that the real treasure is the journey itself.
This book is very special to me, because it shaped my destiny.
After earning my engineering degree in Salzburg, Austria, I planned my Hawai‘i vacation on the Internet and it was there where I discovered Hawai‘i Pacific University. The MBA in Information Systems degree looked like the perfect complement to my engineering degree. I applied for the program and was accepted. However, there is a huge difference between going on a vacation and living far from home. I was not sure about leaving home and I was afraid to travel so far away from my family and friends.
After reading “The Alchemist”, I was inspired to leave my home and start MY journey. I went to study at HPU. And like Santiago did in “The Alchemist”, I found MY treasure!
My treasure is more than the degree I earned. It is the knowledge I gained, the people I met, the cultures I experienced, and the friends I made.
HPU is truly a unique institution of learning. Where else in the world can you study for a professional degree and enjoy incredible nature –the power of papa and wakea (mother earth and father sky) – so close? Where else in the world can you walk on campus and talk to people from so many different countries during your lunch break?
I had great experiences and made new friends, and I feel that my relationships with my friends at home became stronger since the Internet helped us to virtually stay together and share the stories of our lives.
What I want to tell you is:
“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits them.” Do not be afraid of fulfilling your dreams! As Coelho says: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure!” “People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”
The graduates celebrating tonight are able to pursue their dreams. I congratulate all of you on your great achievement!
In conclusion, I thank my family and friends, who supported me during MY journey. I also thank my teachers, who inspired and mentored me. I wish all of you good luck with your journeys and lots of success for your future! Enjoy your life and realize your dreams!
Mahalo nui loa!