Valedictory Speakers

O’Halloran-Waddell, Rhiannon

President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, families, friends, and fellow graduates.

To say that I am honored at my selection to valedictory speaker for the Military Campus Program would be a severe understatement. No one word or phrase could adequately describe the torrent of emotions I feel coursing through my entire being as I stand here amongst my fellow graduates.

Our degrees are a culmination of hard work, patience, and perseverance.

It’s been said that “one moment can define an entire lifetime.” This moment right here, my college graduation, is the definitive moment in my life.

Nearly ten years ago I graduated from high school. Thinking as teenagers do, I truly believed that as the author of my fate my entire future would go according to my script: I would attend a local university in the fall, graduate in 4 years, and jump immediately into a well-paying job. I soon learned, however, that try as I might Life follows no script and shall institute immediate revisions where it sees fit without a care or concern for the author’s storyline. A few weeks prior to entering into my freshman year a sudden change in my family dynamic caused for my immediate withdrawal from college. Five years later, although petrified that my long absence from any formal type of education would hinder my learning capabilities, I once again attempted to pursue me college education. Life, however, once again revised my script with the catastrophic events of 9/11. At the time I was a civilian employee for the US Air Force in a “mission essential” position. In the military the mission, not the individual, is the priority.
Two years later a third opportunity for a college education presented itself when my husband received orders to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Shortly after our arrival I enrolled at HPU and waited to see what Life would do now to revise my story. Apparently, this is the script Life decided I should perform to all along. The script Life has written for me thus far has taught me that attaining your academic ambitions at any age is plausible so long as you embrace the minor revisions Life institutes and patiently await for education to make its grand appearance.

I would like to thank HPU’s faculty, MCP staff, and my fellow classmates have provided me with an outstanding supporting cast. My gratitude to them all is truly beyond verbal expression. I would also like to thank my father who passed on to me two great gifts: a love of history and inner strength. Finally, I need to thank my husband, Tony. Tony, you have been here with me for these last ten years and when I resigned myself to an uneducated fate you made it your personal mission to do whatever it would take to get me to school. Because of your unwavering fidelity and faith in my potential I am now the person you always knew I could be.

In closing, I believe the lyricist Talib Kweli best sums up the character of life and the many hardships it presents as we try to attain our most coveted aspirations with this simple sentence: Life is a beautiful struggle.

Life is a beautiful struggle. As each of us mentally stabilizes ourselves for the walk across the stage to accept our respective degrees I would like each of you to reflect upon the struggles Life has presented you with as you strove to attain your education and what a truly resplendent struggle it has been.

Congratulations graduates.
Thank you.