Valedictory Speakers

Connors, Shelly L.

A warm aloha and welcome to President Wright, Chairman Aull, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, fellow graduates, families and guests.

Our education is a gift that bestows a great responsibility; a responsibility to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. Because it is the educated that have the power to make decisions that impact the lives of those less fortunate, it is our responsibility, as educated members of society, not to abuse that power.

My education, while at Hawai'i Pacific University, came from three sources. The first source, of course, is the faculty, and I thank them for their efforts and patience.

Not only has this University provided us the opportunity to obtain a world class education with world class faculty, but it has also given us something more, something that will assist us in making this world a better place for all.

Before beginning my studies at HPU, the world was such a large mysterious place. I grew up in a small Texas town and attended Texas A&M University, along with 42,000 other students, but I never really expanded my inner world beyond the comfortable and understandable boundaries of the United States. The people I saw on the television in foreign places were as remote to me as is the planet Mars. I could not fully relate to their suffering, to their victories, to their humanity. Asia was a strange and scary place, Africa a distant place of great suffering, and Europe, well, Europe I considered a place much like the United States. Little did I know. And then I came here, to Hawaii, and began my studies at Hawai'i Pacific University - and the world opened up to me.

I have learned as much from you, my fellow students, as I have from my studies, and I am a much better person for it. I can only hope all of you leave here, like myself, having gained a greater understanding of persons of other cultures and backgrounds, and a tolerance and compassion to use this knowledge to decrease worldwide ignorance and prejudice.

As W. H. Auden, a 20th century English poet, so aptly said, civilizations should be measured by "the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained." At Hawai'i Pacific University, the beginnings of worldwide unity are made possible. Thank you my fellow students for making my world so much more interesting.

Finally, my third source of education has been my husband. From him I learned the true meaning of sacrifice. Not only has he financially supported my education but he has also given so much more. Thank you, Mark, for giving up most of your weekends because I had to study, for editing so many of my papers, and being there when my academic burn-out was the most severe. It was truly appreciated.

On behalf of my fellow graduates, I would like to thank all of you family members who have sacrificed for your loved one, so that they could obtain, tonight, distinction as a graduate of Hawai'i Pacific University.

Thank you, and God bless.