President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, family, friends, and fellow graduates: Aloha and good evening!
Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were young? I wanted to be Bruce Lee. I remember running around the house in my pajama bottoms, flailing my gangly limbs in the air and making unintelligible noises that sounded something like a cross between a chicken and a monkey.
Later, I dreamed of being Tarzan, King of the Jungle. Of course my Mother dashed those dreams pretty quick the first time she made me get down from the trees in my "tighty-whiteys." Since neither of these dreams came to fruition, I decided to join the military - and this time my Mom couldn't take away my uniform.
I wasn't quite sure how I was going to pursue my education while working as a full-time member of the Air Force, but when I saw how accommodating and flexible the classes were at HPU, I decided to give it the old college try. I don't remember my first class so much as I remember wondering "how I would ever finish?" How could I endure years of lectures, writing papers, and taking tests? I soon learned how: It was the mentoring and masterful instruction of our many HPU faculty members that motivated me to challenge myself.
It was the savvy management professor who transformed our business classroom into a corporate boardroom; or the impassioned English professor who taught me that literature can be intriguing; or the worldly economics professor who helped us to experience cultures from the 150 countries he has been to.
As great as our HPU professors have been, we had to possess something extraordinary as well. My military and martial arts training taught me a lot about perseverance and mental toughness, but each of us brought our own unique gifts to the table, and those gifts are what set us apart. Think of what we did to get here:
We juggled home and school;
We deployed to war or fought on the front lines, and still we got our homework done;
We cared for the family while spouses were deployed;
We neglected our relationships - and had to beg forgiveness;
We missed spending time with friends, yet still we persevered
We stressed out during finals and lived on fast food;
And more than once we thought of quitting, but our loved ones helped us forge toward our dream of a degree.
Fellow graduates, especially those in uniform, I commend you. Your HPU educational experience will make you better leaders, strengthen our country, and make the world a better place to live in.
Mahalo & God Bless America