Valedictory Speakers

Tsunemoto, Hannah

To President Bannister, Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, family, friends,  and distinguished guests, both here and watching online — on behalf of Anthony, John, myself, and our fellow graduates of the Class 2013, good evening! I am truly honored to have the opportunity to address you at this celebration of our hard work and our passage from being college students to being alumni.

During one of my many attempts at writing this speech, stressing about how to make it funny, inspirational, and relatable all at the same time, I did what I normally do when I am not sure about something. I Google-d it. First thing on the list: “How to Write a Valedictorian Speech in 8 Steps,” courtesy of wikiHow. The scientist in me rejoiced at finding what seemed to be essentially a methods list on how to impress you, or at least avoid putting you to sleep. Start with an introduction, mix in some touching stories, heartfelt thanks, and humorous anecdotes, and done. Flash-forward two weeks, and I had come up with nothing. There was no sudden burst of inspiration, even while procrastinating.... I mean, studying intensely during finals. I was stuck wondering what I could say to make this moment that commemorates our years here at HPU, seem real, without someone having to pinch me. We are actually graduating.

Before I go any further, I would like to put the minds of our parents at ease. Don’t worry. The tuition money was well spent. Not only did we grow to appreciate lifelong learning and become global citizens, but more importantly, we saw the growth of the HPU shuttles. Those “cozy” vans became vehicles with a little extra room for things like personal space. We shared in the triumphs of our talented athletic teams and in the despair of having to pass on a gorgeous day at the beach to do a paper due that evening at 11:59 pm. We have endured freezing classrooms and torrential downpours when just over the Ko’olau’s, it was sunny. We sat through hours of classes, soaking in the knowledge that our professors passed on to us and fulfilling our desire to become be good students and great people.

The diploma we receive tonight is the ticket we can use to move forward to the next chapter in our life. I have been told that there is no such thing as perfection for there will always be something we can do better. Therefore, it is important that we take our diploma, the representation of our hard work and sacrifice, and use it to keep moving forward, striving for greater successes, whether we become accountants, scientists, politicians, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, journalists, nurses, and for those continuing on to graduate school, professional students. And remember, while we may be going our separate ways, either down the street, across the country, or around the world, we will always have our experiences here at HPU to connect us.

I would like to take the time to acknowledge the people, who without their support and love, I would not be here today, and I don’t just mean at this podium. To my professors, thank you for teaching me that while it is possible to know almost everything, there is no such thing as being too distinguished to make jokes. To my friends, thank you for putting up with my mini mental breakdowns, usually occurring immediately before and after an exam. To my sister, thank you for inspiring me to become a scientist and being my motivation to succeed. To my parents, thank you for passing on your love of learning and for telling me that every speech should include the two words, “world peace.”

Finally, to my fellow graduates, thank you for being amazing. While this part of our formal education is over, I know that you will continue to crave new knowledge and aim for greatness. I can’t wait to hear of all your achievements in the coming years. Once again, Congratulations to the Class of 2013. Thank you.