Valedictory Speakers

Matsuki, Courtney

It was a dark and stormy night …
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …

It’s amazing how a few short phrases can lead to some of the greatest stories of all time. These words were the seeds to sagas that forever influenced how we tell a story.

A few months ago, my life was changed by four simple words. While accompanying a group of Hawaiian students to the National Forensics League National Tournament in Texas, I had the opportunity to work with a nationally esteemed speech coach. The students were a bit nervous about the upcoming tournament, so to help them trust in their abilities, he simply told them, “tell your own story.”

I learned that day how powerful sharing your story can be. It is through telling our stories that we are able to connect with others and influence those around us. We are the authors of our own anecdotes.

Tonight, we come here from all over the world with different stories to tell. My story begins twenty-four years ago and is filled with people who continue to inspire me – my brother Jared, my sister Tristin, my brother-in-law Greg, my grandma, my cousins, my aunties and uncles, my lifelong high school friends, and most importantly, my mom and dad. You have shaped my story and without you, I would not be the person I am today.

Fellow graduates, Hawaii Pacific University is a chapter of our story that we all share. It is a chapter filled with parties, outstanding softball games, National Champion cheerleaders, orchestra concerts, new friends, extensive thesis revisions, and new lessons learned.

As we await the conclusion to this chapter, we must recognize the support of our faculty and administrators, without whom we could not call HPU our home. President Bannister, members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed administrators, distinguished faculty, and the ever colorful staff of HPU, thank you for giving us an arena with which we can share our stories. Dr. Michael Chun, headmaster of Kamehameha Schools and chairman of the HPU Board of Trustees, I’d like to especially recognize you for 23 years of inspirational leadership at Kamehameha. To Dr. Tony Ostrowski, Dr. John Hart, Dr. Steven Combs, Dr. Serena Hashimoto, Dr. Malia Smith, Dr. Teresa McCreary, Kole, Zach, Dayna, and to all of my professors and friends, thank you for encouraging me to push pass my walls of comfort and achieve my personal best.

Finally, I’d like to thank Gabe, Danielle, Nick, Kanoe, Aunty Michelle, and all the amazing speech and debaters for helping me to grow and for never ceasing to give up on my story. I will never be able to truly express how grateful I am to have you in my life.

As Charles Dickens said, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

Tonight and forever more, let the pages of your story show. Congratulations!