Valedictory Speakers

Grib, Elizabeth E.

President Wright, Chairman Aull, Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Fellow Graduates, Families, Friends, and Guests; good evening.

Tonight we gather to celebrate the Hawai'i Pacific University commencement ceremony. For many, this represents the finale of what seems like a lifetime as a student - a chance now to pursue new dreams and goals and forge a career. But for others, like me - a returning student who has been away from school for many years, this represents a great step forward in the continuation of building a career and the achievement of personal goals.

Now is the time for reflection - a time to look back on our impressive journey and examine how we arrived here. My mother recently sent me an email that I think answers this question. It is an essay entitled The Truly Important People, by an unknown author. It begins by asking a series of questions. Tonight I want you to see if you can answer these questions.


  • Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  • Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  • Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  • Name five people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The point is, we do not easily remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies and awards tarnish. The achievements are not forgotten, but accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now try a different quiz.

  • Name five teachers who aided your journey through school.
  • Name five friends who helped you through a difficult time.
  • Name five people who have made you feel appreciated and loved.
  • Name five people who make you laugh.
  • Name five heroes whose lives have inspired you.

The lesson is that the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care about you. It is a lot easier to achieve great things when you have the help of great people. We should be quick and generous in acknowledging those who have helped us.

So tonight, we not only salute the graduates, but we honor our loved ones and all those who have sacrificed so much for our success. It is my responsibility and great joy this evening to speak on behalf of all the graduates in thanking every mother, father, spouse, grandparent, mentor, teacher, child, friend, significant other, every coworker and family member for all the support and love that they have contributed to us over the years so that we may sit here clothed in cap and gown tonight and receive our diplomas, the representation of a tremendous achievement. We never could have accomplished what we did without the support of those around us. Regardless of where you find yourselves on life's journey, you never travel alone.

I thank you and good evening.