Valedictory Speakers

Rivera, Alexis

Thank you Vice President Cyboron for that gracious introduction.

Aloha and good evening President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, fellow graduates, families, friends, and to those watching via the Internet world wide. 
It is a great honor and privilege, for me to be here on this momentous occasion, representing the military campus program and my fellow service members as valedictory speaker.

Standing here in front of you today, I feel sentiments of happiness, accomplishment, and some that are uniquely bittersweet.

The happiness and sense of accomplishment I share with you tonight, is directly related to the opportunity that we all have had to better ourselves through education. The opportunity to fulfill a dream that for me has taken ten years to complete. I come from an environment where high school diplomas are rare and a college degrees are even rarer.  As a result, this accomplishment for me carries deep emotions, signifying that the mold can be broken if we allow ourselves to think and behave differently.

When started my first college courses in 1998, I knew that earning a degree was going to open new doors and new perspectives in life. What I didn’t know was the determination required to follow this dream, which were further complicated by the challenges of military service. Now, I stand here with my fellow classmates; a degree in hand and extremely proud of this achievement as i’m sure you all can agree. Remember, We are all limited only by our motivation and ambition, think big and reach for the stars.

The bittersweet emotions I share with you are  because my role model and life mentor isn’t here to share this occasion with me, my grandmother Aida. I grew up with her ever since I was a young boy and happy to say that it was a great experience. My grandmother was the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back and she did just that to raise me. My grandmother always tried to provide me with the best that she could, given her 4th grade education. She clearly understood that education and strong morals were key to being successful in life.

As a young man I always thought I was being lectured about life and about what I should do with mine. But little did I know, that those same lectures would serve to be excellent guidance as an adult. Her inspiration, positive attitude, and insightfulness make her the single most important role model in my life. Without her educating on life's challenges, I can truly say I wouldn’t be sharing this evening with you all. I can only begin to hope that I can be that same role model for my daughter.

I would like to take this time to recognize those responsible for assisting me with achieving my goals. First, the dedicated staff and educators of HPU, we would not be here without your hard work and determination. Second, my daughter, Thalia, for inspiring and pushing me to be a better person each and every day. Her positivity is infectious and makes parenting a whole lot easier. Finally, but most important, I would like to thank my ever supportive wife, Zeyana, with her constant motivation and understanding; I was able to succeed in accomplishing my goals.

To my fellow graduates, I congratulate you on all your achievements. It’s been difficult, I know, but bask in your accomplishments as you enter the workforce and start your lives. Don’t forget the determination and inspiration that allowed you to succeed in your education; it will serve you well in your new endeavors. Remember, knowledge is power and one of the most powerful tools is an educated mind.  Challenge yourself to use your new tools, shape your future, and form a better tomorrow.

Thank you and good evening.