Valedictory Speakers

Peterson, Kellie

Mahalo Dean Combs and Associate Dean Hart, President Wright, Members of the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Students, Families, and Guests.

It is with great pride I represent our graduating class tonight. Looking around I see many familiar faces and know some of your stories. As diverse as our backgrounds are, we have in common perseverance and responsibility. It takes great determination to do well in academics. In fact, I’m surprised I made it this far. I grew up in a tiny town on Catalina Island and most of my childhood friends never dreamed of pursuing any education beyond high school. In my town, education was secondary to experience. So, although I aspired to be no less than a great philosopher, my inclination was toward the rough road of life, rather than the institution of education. So as soon as I closed my books on high school, I eagerly set off on an adventure.

My travels took me halfway around the world and back. Eventually I wound up living on Kauai. Then, a twist of fate delivered me to HPU and into the classrooms of some of the most brilliant and passionate individuals I have ever met. Many of my professors were quirky and eccentric—and I loved them. Never have I felt so at home away from home.

Over the last six years, I have come to see the world through a precise lens. My education at HPU has honed my analytical skills and sharpened my interest for details. It was like being handed a light in the dark—allowing me to see so much more. At first I was thrilled to find so many elusive answers, but then I realized that behind each discovery was an avalanche of new questions. So I began the Master’s program and tonight, with you, I celebrate its completion. My hope is for there to be peace and harmony among all people. In pursuit of this ideal, my education has been invaluable.

Every year a dynamic group of young people graduate from HPU. Tonight, we celebrate our own graduation and the many memories from our time together. It’s easy to take for granted what we have achieved, but to earn a degree, be it an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s, is no small success. The best way to celebrate this triumph is to use what we have learned to improve the world. We share a responsibility to find ways to improve the lives of all people. Though the challenges we faced to arrive here today were substantial, our greatest challenges are still ahead.

Without our extraordinary community we may never have learned the most valuable lesson that HPU offers—that we are not isolated individuals but essential members of an interconnected and vibrant global community. Armed with a unique education, ambitions and talents, we now set out on a new adventure to carry out our most necessary contributions to the world, the family, the Earth, and each other.

Good work and good luck!