ALOHA and good evening, President Wright, Board of Trustees, Faculty and Staff, distinguished guests, family, friends, and my fellow graduates. Tonight marks both an end and a beginning. We are surrounded in this beautiful gathering place by those who have touched our lives and made us who we are today. In this light, I want to first acknowledge those who have profoundly shaped my life and the woman I’ve become:
To my family, my Grandparents, August and Bernadette, my Aunt Jane, and the rest of my family, for all that you do and all that you are, I thank you. To my brothers, Christian and Trevor, you are the light of my life and a great source of pride and inspiration. To my mother, Ann, and my late father, Mario, for giving me life and infinite love I honor you and dedicate this night to you.
To my life… my love -Edwin, who has stood by me through life’s deepest valleys and highest summits, without you I would not be standing before you all today.
To all my friends, for the many ways you have touched my life, and Sharilynn, Crystal and Aya for being the sisters I never had, thank you.
Finally, to my professors, within me, you have ignited a passion for lifelong learning. For being an intrinsic part of my academic, professional and personal growth, I am eternally indebted to you.
Hawaii Pacific University has left an indelible mark on my life. While there are countless aspects about HPU that brought me here, what kept me here have been my own exchanges with my mentors as well as fellow classmates from all walks of life and every corner of the globe. Being a student here has opened my eyes to what it truly means to be engaged as a “global citizen.” Together with students of every major region of the world, from North America to Latin America, to the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Pacific, we have proven that cultural understanding is not only possible, but absolutely necessary to achieving sustainable peace in our world.
One of the greatest men of our time, Gandhi, once said, “The only way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I look forward the next chapter of life in service to humanity as a delegate and member of the International Advisory Board of the World Youth Congress. This fall, it will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme of this year’s Congress is “IMECE,” a Turkish word which doesn’t have an exact definition in English. It refers to an ancient tradition of solidarity –working collectively for the common good. It carries with it –not the connotation of effort or duty –but the FUN of collaboration: a festival of enjoying life when you work and achieve things together. It is my hope that each and every one of you go forth to help create the better world our leaders have only dreamed about. My fellow graduating class, we are the authors of a better tomorrow. It is not only our privilege, but our collective moral obligation as human beings. It is in the spirit of “IMECE” that I leave you, wishing you best of luck in all of your future academic, professional and personal endeavors.
Salam Alaykum- May peace be upon you all!