Valedictory Speakers

Akridge, William

President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, family and friends, and fellow graduates: Aloha and good evening!

Today marks a milestone in our lives, which for some this is only the beginning and for others this is the final stop in the world of academia. Tonight is also a tribute to all of you in the audience, because each and everyone contributed to the lives of the students who are about to graduate.

Yet as we set forth from this night, it is essential that we not forget each of us will impact this world, but what legacy will we leave behind. Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inaugural speech stated, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking down so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory… that is with in us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Those words of Nelson Mandela inspire us that one must live in the excellence, sincerity, and truth of who they are in order to see the beauty in all things. By realizing this, the world will not only benefit from our accomplishments, but from who we are as individuals.

Speaking on behalf of the Military Campus Programs is an honor and privilege. I must recognize my fellow classmates: the consummate military and government professionals, their husbands and wives, whose tireless efforts have made this educational journey rewarding and beneficial to all in the Military Campus Programs. Also, I send my respect to our military brothers and sisters in harms way around the world. Be vigilant and return home safely!

In closing, may all of us have the passion to follow our dreams, the drive to persevere through life's trails, and the courage to confront all issues honestly. Remember, greatness is lived through knowing who we are.

Good luck fellow graduates. Mahalo and good night.