Valedictory Speakers

Smith, Laura

President Wright, Members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished guests, faculty, friends, family and fellow graduates: I am honored to be representing the students of the undergraduate bachelor’s degree programs graduating here tonight.

Today is a most significant occasion and a personal victory for me. I was born and raised in a small Pacific Island nation called the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands consist of many beautiful Micronesian islands and atolls. It is a tropical island paradise where customs and traditions are still honored and respected. I lived my entire life on Majuro Atoll which has a population of about 29,000 people.

I attended local private schools in the Marshall Islands and also I spent one year at the national community college known as the College of the Marshall Islands.

My country is a developing nation. Graduation is a personal victory for me because now I have a chance to return to the land that I call home and realize my dream to contribute to the development of our country. I believe that the best way to help my country develop is to develop myself. So I will do this by doing my best to meet the challenges that I know I will face in the future and I hope that all of my fellow graduates will do the same.

This is our challenge; this is our opportunity and most importantly, this is our obligation.

Tonight we share a common bond and we are united by very memorable experiences. Each of us in our own way and in our own chosen areas of academic study have faced the challenges, difficulties and sacrifices that are required to earn a college degree and we have been victorious.

I will always cherish my days at HPU. I had a chance to meet fellow students from all over the country and from many places throughout the world. We shared many experiences together and we have made lasting friendships. We should all take a moment to thank those whose support and efforts allowed us to get to this point. I would like to thank my friends and fellow students who encouraged me along the way. I would like to thank the instructors who took on the challenging task of transforming us from enthusiastic students to educated university graduates. I would especially like to thank my parents along with my whole family whose support and love helped to sustain me through very difficult periods.

Today we have no idea of what challenges lay ahead. We do not know what obstacles and opportunities we will encounter and we even do not know if we will ever reach all of our goals in life.

But we do know that from the education that we have received at HPU, we have gained the determination, the wisdom and the courage to never give up.

Good Luck Class of 2006! As Native Hawaiians say: Ua pono ka kaua hana which translates as we succeeded with our work. Aloha & Mahalo nui loa.