Fall 2017 Commencement

Ladies and gentlemen the ceremony is
about to begin, please rise. [Music: Pomp and Circumstance playing in background] [Oli chanted by Dr. Leilani Basham] [He Aloha No Nā ʻEwa performed by Dr. Leilani Basham and UH West Oʻahu Choir] Please be seated. Thank you Dr. Leilani Basham and Kalikolani Correa for He Aloha No Na ‘Ewa which was composed in honor of the ‘Ewa district and each of its ahupua‘a. They were accompanied by the UH West Oʻahu chorus. Special guests, members of the graduating class, parents, family, and friends, welcome to the Fall 2017 Commencement at the University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu! My name is Leila why Shimokawa and I’ll be your co-emcee for today’s festivities. This is a special occasion for our graduates and families, so please silence your cell phones. Thank you and now may I please welcome to the
podium our Chancellor Maenette Benham. Mahalo Leila. Welina mai e nā haumāna, nā kumu, nā hoaloha, a me nā ʻohana! [Greeting from Chancellor Benham in Hawaiian] Aloha! Welcome to our students, our faculty and
staff, friends, and family, to our Fall 2017 University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu
graduation ceremony. Mahalo nui to each of you for coming to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of our graduates on this
very blessed Saturday morning. To our graduates, Hoʻomaikaʻi ʻia ʻoukou, a i mua, e pūpūkahi I holomua, e nā pōkiʻi! Congratulations to you, our graduates! Now it is time for you to sail forward! Thank you Chancellor Benham. And now in what is a tradition at what is quickly becoming a tradition here at UH West Oʻahu, it is with great pleasure that I introduce my co-emcee, Rashad Hicks. Rashad is a candidate for graduation with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. He is the president and founder of the Pueo Film Club, a Pueo Leader and a member of the Dean’s List, and Golden Key International Society. Please welcome, Rashad Hicks. Thank you, I’m so honored to be here today. It is my pleasure to introduce the University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu band and the University Chorus, who will perform the Star Spangled Banner and Hawai‘i Pono‘i. Please rise. [Music: Star Spangled Banner] [Applause] [Music: Hawai‘i Pono‘i] Please be seated. Thank you to the UH West O‘ahu band and its co-directors, Michael Nakasone
and Chad Kamei, and the University Chorus led by Dr. John Magnussen. I’m pleased to introduce our distinguished guests. Please rise as your name is called and remain standing. Will the audience please withhold your applause until all are recognized. Kaʻiulani Murphy, our keynote speaker.
Board of Regents Vice Chair, Benjamin Kudo. Regent Michael McEnerney. Dr. Donald
Dr. Donald Straney, Vice President Planning and Academic Policy, University of Hawaiʻi.
Garrett Yoshimi, Vice President for Information Technology and the CIO
University of Hawaiʻi. Dr. Manette Benham, Chancellor. Dr. Jeffrey Moniz, Vice
Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Dr. Judy Oliveria, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Dr. Alan Rosenfeld, Chair, UH West Oʻahu Faculty Senate. Dr. Derrek Choy, chair Business Division. Dr. Mary Heller, chair Education Division. Dr. Stanley Orr, chair Humanities Division. Dr. Kristina Lu, chair Public Administration Division. Dr. Mark Hanson, chair Social Sciences Division. Dr. Jennifer Burns, our faculty
marshal. Dr. Monica LaBriola, faculty marshal. Terina Faagau, our student commencement speaker. Senator Will Espero, Senator Clarence Nishihara,
Representative Ty Cullen, Representative Matthew Lopresti, Representative
Andria Tupola, City Council Chair Ron Menor, City Councilwoman Kimberly Marcos Pine, and Naoto Yoshikawa, Chancellor, Hawaiʻi Tokai International College. We are grateful for all that you’ve done and are honored that you could be a part of today’s celebration. Please give them a round of applause. [Applause] We are honored to have with us today
from the UH Board of Regents, Vice Chair Benjamin A. Kudo and Regent Michael
McEnerney. UH West Oʻahu is grateful to the Board of Regents for its continued
support of our campus. I would like to invite Vice Chair Kudo to the podium. Aloha everyone. On behalf of all of the
administration, the Board of Regents, faculty, and those of you that are here
to support the graduates, there are many things that we have to be grateful for
as we stand here today. We are privileged to be able to participate and bear
witness to your graduation ceremony this morning. To you, the Fall class of 2017 of
the University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu, our sincerest and well-deserved
congratulations. This graduating class signifies the 3,082
students that will have graduated from this university since opening its doors.
Please give yourself a big round of applause. [Applause] Although this is your day to celebrate
and rejoice at your individual accomplishments, please be sure to
recognize those who had a part in bringing you to this point in your lives.
Your counselors, your professors, your friends, and let’s not forget your
parents and family who hopefully encouraged you and gave you inspiration
to achieve what you have today. A few weeks ago I participated in a very
special graduation ceremony for a UH Mānoa student. The ceremony was an
intimate one and private one, conducted at a local hospital at the bedside of
the students father. His father was facing his last moments on this Earth
and had a dream of seeing his son graduate from the University. It was a
heartwarming and emotional moment for all of us. As we finished the graduation
ceremony by his bedside, the student who was dressed in his cap and gown leaned
over to his dad and said, “I graduated dad, I graduated.” His father’s eyes opened, he
could not speak but his mouth moved and next to the bed the heart monitor
evidenced his emotional happiness. From this experience I realized that one’s
personal accomplishment can embody the dreams aspiration and hopes of others
even those who may not be here today. Your personal accomplishments may and
can fulfill the dreams of others. Be mindful as you celebrate this great day
to be thankful to those that dream on your behalf. As my father always told
myself and my brother Frank Kudo, “An education once received is a gift that
no one can ever take away from you.” We honor all of you today with that gift.
On behalf of the Regents of the University of Hawaiʻi, our sincerest
congratulations to you the Fall class of 2017. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you, Vice Chair Kudo. And now I’d like to call upon UH System Vice President for system Academic Planning and Policy, Donald Straney, to give greetings from the University of
Hawaiʻi system. Aloha, it’s a pleasure to be here today to give
you greetings and congratulations from president David Lassner and from the
other nine campuses in the University of Hawaiʻi system. We know what it has taken
for you to get here, we know the work that you’ve done, and what you’ve
accomplished. We also know the support that you’ve received from your families
and friends that have made it possible for all of us to be here today, but today
you become permanent members of the University of Hawaiʻi. Up until now you
could have gone somewhere else, gotten a degree somewhere else, but when you
graduate you become permanent members of the University of Hawaiʻi ʻohana and we’re
extremely proud to welcome you to our ranks. There are three things that make a
university campus great. One is the accomplishment of it’s faculty. The second
is the support it has from its community, but most importantly it’s what it’s
alumni accomplish. We very much look forward to seeing what you do with your
degrees in your lives and we’re very optimistic that you will make us very
proud, mahalo. [Applause] Thank You Vice President Straney. I will
now like to invite Chancellor Benham back to the podium to introduce our
keynote speaker, Kaʻiulani Murphy. Kaʻiulani Murphy, was born and raised in Waimea and Waipiʻo Valley on Moku o Keawe, Hawaiʻi island — with her hands in the dirt, her kuaʻāina roots firmly established her identity as
Hawaiian. While a Hawaiian Studies student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she found her passion and voyages and has been a crew member with Hōkūleʻa
since 1998. Her first deep sea voyage was from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi in 2000. A key crew
member a navigator for Hōkūleʻa’s historic global circumnavigation – she is
working to revolutionize Hawaiian education. Kaʻiulani teaches courses in
Hawaiian astronomy, navigation and voyaging at Honolulu Community College
and UH Mānoa. Under the tutelage of Master Navigator, Nainoa Thompson, Kaʻiulani
has joined a fiercely proud tradition of Polynesian wayfinding. Kaʻiulani served as
the master navigator with Captain Pomaikalani Bertelmann, completing the
final leg of the worldwide voyage of Aloha. Sailing the Hokuleʻa from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi Both women guided Hokuleʻa home. A mentor
and friend, Dr. Kamana Beamer, said to me that if Kaʻiulani “were born in an earlier time in our history, her name would be recalled in our moʻokūʻauhau (our genealogy)
alongside our kupuna voyageurs such as Paumakua, Kahaʻi, and Kaulu.” Lucky for us
Kaʻiulani Moanikeʻala Murphy lives with us today, she is our navigator, a leader
for our people, a wahine of amazing mana, vision, and grace. I am humbled and
honored to present our Keynote Speaker Kaʻiulani Moanikeʻala Murphy. [Applause] Welina me ke aloha, aloha mai ka kou, aloha. Well, wow after that introduction
I’m wondering if it’s me you’re talking about. First of all mahalo nui for inviting me to celebrate and share this special day
with all of you. Congratulations to all you graduates for all the hard work that
you’ve done to get to this point. To all your ‘ohana, your family, your friends who
supported you along your way. Of course to the faculty and staff that help you
throughout your journey here at the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu. I
think the reason that I was asked to come and speak with you folks, I
definitely don’t feel worthy, I’d rather much hear your guys’s stories but is to share a little bit of mine and I guess some
of my journey as a student. A student of navigation, of voyages, of Hokuleʻa, of
extraordinary mentors, and great teachers whom I’m so grateful for. I
don’t need to tell you folks the importance of education and good
teachers, and even if you just have one along your way. That one person can
make all the difference and so I’m reminded actually of another graduation
ceremony of sorts. About ten years ago, I was at, a little different from this
one, it was on a tiny island called Satowan and it’s in the Caroline islands of
Micronesia. It’s about 4,000 miles to the west and south of us. It’s always been
kind of this mythical island in my mind, not one that I thought I would be
standing on, much less have sailed too but nonetheless I had the great honor
and privilege of being there as well and at this particular graduation ceremony. It
was called the Pole Ceremony. It was being orchestrated by our master
navigator, our first teacher, our first navigator of Hokuleʻa, who
led Hokuleʻa really in 1976 on her maiden voyage to Tahiti in
unfamiliar waters. He always had sailed within those kind
of 4,000 miles away from us in Micronesia through those islands but
this magical man had this ʻike that he was brave enough and willing to share
outside of his homeland, and so that actually brought kind of the wrath of
his ʻohana in Satowan in Micronesia because he was really
stepping out of the the boundaries of the rules that you weren’t supposed to
teach outside of your family but in the wisdom that Papa Mau had, he saw that in
his own homeland. What had already happened here in Hawaiʻi, where our navigators, our voyagers, our voyaging canoes. They had been sleeping, you
could say, for centuries. He had saw in his own homeland that the young children
weren’t interested in learning their culture, their ways, the traditional
ways because they were introduced to new things like motors they could put on a
boat that they didn’t have to build, GPS that you just needed to put in batteries
so you could find your way. So why did we need to learn stars or why did we need
to know how to build a canoe? Why did we need to learn these skills that, that man
Papa Mau just embodied and was willing to teach and wanted to teach and
so he found his students. Actually his students found him I should say here in
Hawaiʻi and so at this pole ceremony, he was recognizing not just those students’s
accomplishments, their skills, their ability to pull islands from the sea, but
also in this pole ceremony in this graduation, he was really giving them the
kuleana. That now that they had this ʻike that he taught, that he shared with them,
that his own people didn’t want him to share. Now they had this, this kuleana to
continue to live that ʻike. To share that with more people. It was a historical
ceremony, in fact the last pole ceremony that happened on his Island in Satowan
was when he was graduated into this whole level of navigators and he was
inducting, you could say, five men from Hawaiʻi. So if I’ve men not from Satowan,
not even from Micronesia. Along with ten other men from their Islands and
actually the following year another five men from the South Pacific, our
Polynesian cousins, and again in his wisdom he was seeing that here were
people that were interested in learning what he had to teach. He was really a
living ancestor for us and not only was he willing to or did he have the courage
to navigate Hokuleʻa from Hawaiʻi navigate to Tahiti that first
time in 1976 but he came back and after the asking of Nainoa, he said “You know we
don’t need you to find Tahiti again for us but we need you to teach us how to
find it for ourselves” and so he came back and he spent two years with who became my teacher, Nainoa Thompson, before
Nainoa made his first voyage in 1980 and became the first Hawaiian, the
first Polynesian and an estimated you know five centuries to have made that
voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti and back on a traditional voyaging canoe. Not using any
instruments, just using the natural clues around us and now we can feel one of the
most important ones, to dry up the rain that we were just blessed with this
morning, but yes. So in this ceremony and this pole ceremony, I was
very evident that Mau understood the importance of education. He is giving his
students the kuleana. Not just the recognition but even a harder job of
being the light in their community, being a leader in their community. I’m carrying
forward this knowledge so it would never be lost or go to sleep again here
in Hawaiʻi and other parts of our larger Oceana ʻOhana,
and when I think about that ceremony I also think about where I was just seven
years before that. On the very first voyage that I got to be a part of.
That’s how I’ll tell you a little short story about that one because it reminds
me actually of what we just experienced this morning while you folks were all
standing out here being blessed by this beautiful ua. I had the
great privilege to be selected to sail home from Tahiti and we had a
wahine a as a navigator, Chantell DeSilva, and I was on the support team to help
with that navigation and we were in Tahiti for about two weeks and of course
we all loved it. Nobody’s bummed about having to stay in Tahiti for two weeks,
waiting for a favorable wind. We were in Totida which is Hokuleʻa’s home in
Tahiti and the whole time we were there, the winds were just very light,
non-existent. There was no way we could leave because then we just be kind of
floating around outside Tahiti but the very day that we realized in our
watching of the weather. We realized that this is a day that was going to be the
perfect day to leave and so we said our goodbyes to all the ʻohana. Thanked them for
hosting us, for taking care of us for two weeks. You know bringing us into their
homes, making us a part of their family. Doing everything from feeding us, to
doing our laundry. whether we wanted them to do it or not, and we got on board
Hokuleʻa. We let go the lines, we started to go out the lagoon, and you can say
that our voyage started off with a bang because we got struck by lightning. So I
was holding onto the mast and that’s not a good thing to hold onto, it’s the wind
stick that stands up, the highest thing on the canoes. So of course I felt a
little jolt when that lightning hit us and I actually saw this blue line go
between my my bicep and my forearm, and it wasn’t a painful shock but it was one
that I think everyone on board felt and we just kind of all looked around at
each other in this silent awe. Like what just happened and we looked up at the
mountain so it’s almost like the mountain was right here, where this
building is, called Tohieva and another bolt of lightning had actually
struck that mountain and started a fire. So here we are on this you know after
two weeks of peaceful hardly any weather we’re going out of the lagoon and we
have all this action going on lightning thunder and where, I am kind of wondering
to myself like are we really supposed to be leaving now? Is this a good sign or a
bad sign? And so later we found out that of course from our ʻohana that the rain that
had come eventually doused the fire on the mountain, didn’t have you know fire
stations down there but they saw it as a sign from the tupuna.
That it was a big sign, they were bidding us a safe journey but that was quite a
send-off I must say and once we were out of the lagoon we were making our way
past Tahiti and I remember that first night it was still
raining, it was still thunderstorm, it was still everything. Everywhere I looked
around the horizon I’ve never seen this before and I’ve never seen it since but
there were just these bolts of lightning coming all around us like from these
clouds, it was far enough away you know it’s just, never seen that before. It was
wet, cold, my fall weather gear was was already drenched
and I just remember you know we were out hands on deck because of the
weather and I remember sitting there on one of the boxes of the canoe and I’m
thinking to myself like, “Oh my god, like what did I get myself into? Is it gonna
be like this for next three weeks? I don’t know if I can take this.” You know
so that’s when you know it’s moments like that when we’re on the canoe
especially for me that was my first times like the first night out at sea
for a long voyage. I’ve done a lot of inter island and overnight crossing since before
then but nothing could really have prepared me for that moment. Although I
knew I always felt safe. I felt I had you know the confidence that my teachers, my
captain, and navigators knew how to keep us safe and that our training did
prepare us well enough for this for this one voyage, and the next day it got sunny
and actually we got very light winds again for another few days before we hit
the equator and started just jamming home and we made it home in about 22
days. By the end of that voyage, you know you start out much like you know in your
classes. You might know each other a little bit. Hopefully by the end of the
semester you know each other a lot better but it’s kind of like on the
canoe you’re just, you’re forced to get to know each other. You’re in this
small space and you really become a family by the end of that 22 days, by the
end of that voyage. If any of you have been camping, if you like camping, you can
imagine being on a vaʻa as much like camping, except you’re on the water and
you can’t get off of it. There’s very little private space and
you’re faced with possible you know life-threatening scenarios.
Those kinds of things you know from the weather, having downtime whether it’s
calm whether it’s rough. You know those kinds of things
bring us together as a crew and those kinds of experiences we remember and we
can only really talk about those experiences with each other and
understand you know that bond that we’ve built because we went through that
together ,because we went through those challenges together. There’s so many
reasons why you know, all of us, we can you know compare being on a voyage
to any kind of voyage in our life. You know whether it’s our journey through
school, through our job but those crew members that we sail with, those are
our family for life. You trust each other with your lives, you know you have each
other’s back and I think that was one of the main reasons that Pomai I and I
felt we were able to take on that kuleana that our teachers bestowed on us
to bring Hokuleʻa home. After her historical worldwide voyage and we took
a long time to talk about whether or not we would accept Nainoa’s requests
for us to to bring Hokuleʻa home. We were freaked out when we first were asked. We
knew that we didn’t know enough. We knew that we didn’t know
everything and so we knew that we needed to surround ourselves with people who
did know and could fill in those gaps, and we were able to build a
strong team around us. I’m not a master navigator but I’m very much a student of
navigation and one thing that Nainoa had
said to me before this voyage was you know when he first called Mau a
master navigator, Mau kind of scolded him and of course we call Nainoa
master navigator now but really to Mau, what a master navigator was, was it was
when a navigator had a student and that student was successful. And so in this in
this voyage where Pomai and I brought Hokuleʻa home, as much as we didn’t want
to be in that role of leading, leading this this crew and you know you it’s so
stressful because it’s a very publicized voyage. It’s out there, social media, and
you know it wouldn’t be so much pressure if we knew nobody else is watching but
there’s the fear of failure and and at the same time having to balance that
with the confidence that our teachers wouldn’t ask us to do that if
they didn’t believe in us and I feel like that’s exactly what today is
for you folks. You know your teachers believed in you. You’ve done
all the hard work, all the training, all the preparation leading up to this day
and not only is it giving you the recognition for all your hard work but
also that kuleana that now what are you gonna do with that ʻike and you have your
whole lives ahead of you of course and you can know you can have the confidence
that you can really do anything that you put your mind to and I think I’ve
already talked to way too long so I’m just gonna wrap it up there but again I
want to congratulate all of you and wish you the best of luck in your future
journey, aloha. [Applause] Thank you Kaʻiulani for that electrifying speech. That was my one joke for the day, you guys can laugh. Now our Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Jeffrey Moniz, will recognize the candidates for graduation with distinction and honor students. The University is proud of those students who are who are graduating with distinction.
Based on a 4-point scale, these candidates have earned a minimum grade
point average of 3.75 and have completed at least 30 credits at UH West O‘ahu.
You’ll find the names of these outstanding students marked with an
asterisk in your program. Will all those graduating with distinction and wearing
a red cord rise or raise your hand. Please remain standing or keep your hand
raised until I’m done if you’re able. In addition, the graduating class includes
several members who were selected for national honor societies such as Alpha
Phi Sigma, Alpha Kappa Delta, Lambda Alpha, Psi Chi, Sigma Tau Delta, Golden Key
International Honour Society, and Kappa Delta Pi. To symbolize this achievement
these students are adorned with cords of various colors pins or medallions. Will
those students please rise or raise your hand. [Applause] Remain standing. We would now like to
recognize the student marshals. These students academic achievements have
resulted in their selection to assist their fellow candidates during the
commencement ceremony. Will the student marshals wearing a red and white cord
symbolizing their service to you UH West O‘ahu please rise or raise your hand. We
would like to call upon those students who augmented their studies by
participating in service-learning. Those with the service-learning red yarn lei
please rise or raise your hand. We would like to recognize those
students who served in various capacities on our Chartered Student
Organizations including the Associated Students of UH West O‘ahu, Campus Center
Board, Student Media board and Student Activity Board.
Thank you for fostering our thriving student life. Please rise or raise your
hand. [Applause] Last but certainly not least, we would
like to recognize our student veterans and thank them for their service. For
those veterans including those in the audience please rise or raise your hand. [Applause] Audience please join me in applauding
all of these candidates and veterans one more time for their accomplishments. [Applause] Thank you all, you may be seated. Thank you Dr. Moniz. Now Vice
Chancellor for Student Affairs Judy Oliveira will introduce our student
speaker. I am pleased to introduce our student speaker Terina Faagau. [Cheering] Terina is graduating with a degree in Social Sciences with concentrations in
Political Science and Sociology. She served as a tutor in the No‘eau Center for
Writing, Math and Academic Success and was selected as a Ka‘ala Research Assistant under UH West O‘ahu’s Institute of Engaged Scholarship. She was
also selected as a member of the Legislative Internship, and is a member
of the Dean’s List. Congratulations. Aloha pumehana ka kou.
Mahalo distinguished faculty, special guests as well as family and friends for
joining us today. A little over four years ago I pictured myself going to a
big university and living the college life that I’d always seen in movies and
on friend’s social media. I imagined huge lecture halls, all-nighters in the
library, and of course college parties. So when I started at UH West Oʻahu I was
surprised and not too thrilled. The campus was smaller than my high school,
it didn’t have the major I originally intended on pursuing, and this being a
commuter school meant unfortunately no parties. My dissatisfaction with my new
school showed. I only came to campus for class and I avoided people in passing.
I’d even wine to my friends about how much I wanted to transfer to a real
college. However it’s pretty clear that since I’m not only graduating from UH
West Oʻahu but standing here delivering this speech, a lot has changed. Two years
ago, when I was hired at the Noʻeau Center. I didn’t want to be known as the
one grouchy tutor nobody wanted to work with it. So I was forced to come out of my
shell. As a tutor I had no choice but to get to know more people on campus. I also
started engaging more with the other students in my classes. Whether it was
asking what assignments were due next or hanging out and talking story in the
courtyard after class. That change in attitude made me appreciate that
engaging with others was making a positive change in me. I came to realize
what I’m sure was common sense to everyone else around me, that life is a
lot better when you’re connecting with others in your community. You know the
Dr. Seuss line from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” that goes “In Whoville they say,
the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.” Well I don’t want to liken myself to
the Grinch especially at this time of year, but
I do think that the West Oʻahu community has similarly caused my heart to grow. In
my three and a half years on this campus, I’ve learned that nothing about UH West Oʻahu fits the typical college stereotype but that’s exactly
what gives this place its essence. Our school may be small but we make up for
it in impactful interactions and connections due to our diversity. Whether
in terms of ethnicity, age, opinion, religion or life experience. Look around
at this stage at our graduating class. Yes, we have many students who look like
those typically portrayed in college movies but we also have veterans,
immigrants, and children of immigrants. Those who are the first in their family
to graduate. Parents, grandparents and future leaders because of our many
differences we forged unique and meaningful friendships with people from
all walks of life and smaller class sizes meant that we had the opportunity
to work with professors who actually knew who we were and cared about how we
were doing both in and outside of school. From these relationships with professors
staff and fellow students we’ve learned more about the world than could ever be
taught in any course. I’ve learned what it truly means to be a part of a
community and I can’t speak for everyone but these people and this community is
what I’ll miss most about what will soon be our alma mater. So while today is
about celebrating us, the Fall 2017 graduating class, it’s also about
celebrating those who’ve helped us get this far. Our families, friends, faculty,
and staff. Anti-apartheid and human rights activists Desmond Tutu explains
that, “A person is a person through other persons.
Therefore humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging. When you do well
it spreads out. It is for the whole of humanity.” While we’ll all pursue our own
individual goals after today, I hope that everyone keeps those words in mind. As we
go forward and leave this tight-knit community for others, we must remember
that we have the responsibility as community members to foster Aloha
and demonstrate integrity. To serve others and our aina, and to work together
to create a world that celebrates and appreciates diversity in the same way
that we’ve experienced here at UH West Oʻahu. So finally after one too many
literature reviews, countless trips to the Noʻeau Center, free snack table and
long walks in the Kapolei heat to and from the gravel parking lot, we’ve made
it. So congratulations and here’s to us. [Applause] Thank You Terina and congratulations. Now UH West Oʻahu Faculty Senate Chair, Allen Rosenfeld, will give the final
salutation to the graduates on behalf of the faculty. Aloha! This morning I have a
confession to make. As the father of a This morning I have a confession to make. As the father of a six-year-old attending Maukalani
Elementary School just up the hill, go mountain lions,
I find myself spending more time reading children’s book these days than I do
engaging with scholarly texts and while I revisit familiar childhood tales in
the role of reader rather than audience, it is dawned on me that trees, which we
all depend on so deeply, feature prominently in many of these stories.
Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” for instance, relays the tale of an apple
tree that radiates love for a small boy who gradually grows into an elderly man.
With the tree giving all that it possibly can to make it’s boy happy. Shade,
fruit, and wood from which to build a home. “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss tells the
story of a mysterious creature who valiantly strives to preserve the vital
place of the truffula tree in a fragile forest ecology threatened by the
ceaseless encroachment of capitalistic industrialization. Finally in Maurice
Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are”, a boy named
Max watches the walls of his room transform into a jungle full of trees
before sailing off on his imaginary Odyssey into a realm of terrifying but
tamable monsters. I also spend a good deal of time in my World
History classes, talking about the important role of trees in ancient human
cultures. The Chinese relied on the leaves of the mulberry tree to feed the
worms whose cocoon filaments they transformed into silk. The Egyptians
cultivated papyrus trees whose pith they used to create a writing surface that
functioned much like paper .Polynesian voyagers transported the coconut palm to
thousands of Pacific Islands including those of Hawai‘i. Where it provided food,
drink, shade and material for housing, fetching, furniture and baskets. For
Hawaiians the new or coconut palm was a tree possessing a high level of
mana that helped connect people to gods and their ancestors. Well today UH
West O‘ahu graduates, you are the trees that all cultures cherish. You are the
connection to your ancestors and the generations that follow. You have bast in
the sun, maybe not so much today, of higher education and soaked up water in
the form of the support you have received from your family members and
friends. Your trunks have grown tall and firm and your fruit is ripe. From this
day forward you will focus on giving, on nurturing and providing for others,
on supporting your family, and sustaining your community. You will give laughter to
your friends, loyalty to your spouse, unconditional love to your children, time
to your community and perhaps even some money to your cherished alma mater. Remember though, as much, as often and as
freely as you give, there is one part of your tree you may never surrender, the
roots. Although the roots of the component of
a tree that remains hidden, they are essential to it’s survival. For humans,
these unseen roots contain our most treasured memories, our deepest secrets
and our most paralyzing fears. All of those things your classmates and your
teachers never learned about you. However, your roots also include your familiar
ancestry and cultural heritage. Your moral, religious and spiritual beliefs
that have guided the decisions and actions you have taken to reach this
point and that will continue to conduct to guide you forward into your bright
futures. After all even Shel Silverstein’s
exceedingly magnanimous Giving Tree retained its roots. From this graduation
day forward, may your trunks continue to grow tall and
sturdy. May your branches extend far and wide into new horizons beyond your
wildest imaginations. May your fruit nourish and bring joy to all whom you
encounter, and may your roots always remain connected to this place and this
moment in time. Aloha. [Applause] Thank you Dr. Rosenfeld. We will now proceed with
awarding of academic degrees and certificates. I would like to call
Vice Chancellor Oliveira and Dr. Jan Javinar from Student Affairs to the
podium to present the candidates for degrees and certificates and will Vice Chair Kudo, Vice President Straney, Chancellor Benham and Vice Chancellor Moniz, please come to the stage. Will the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in
Business and Applied Science degrees please rise and come forward. And will the Business Division Chair, Dr.
Derrek Choy, please join the reception line. Conferring Bachelor of Arts in Business and Applied Science degrees to graduate candidates] Congratulations Business and Applied Science candidates. [Applause] BUSA and Applied Science candidates you may be seated. And will the candidates for the Bachelor of Education degree please rise and come forward. And if I may ask Education Division Chair, Dr. Mary Heller, to join the reception line. [Conferring Bachelor of Education degrees to graduate candidates] Congratulations Education candidates. [Applause] Will the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, please rise and come forward. And will Humanities Division Chair, Dr. Stan Orr, please join the reception line. [Conferring Bachelor of Arts in Humanities degree to graduate candidates] Congratulations Humanities candidates. [Applause] Will the candidates for the Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Administration, please rise and come forward. Will the Division Chair for Public Administration, Dr. Kristina Lu, please join the reception line. [Conferring Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration to graduate candidates] Congratulations Public Administration candidates. [Applause] Public Administration candidates, you may be seated. Will the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, please rise and come forward. And will Division Chair for Social Sciences, Mark Hanson, please join the reception line. [Conferring of Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences to graduate candidates] Congratulations Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences candidates, you may be seated. Receiving line you may be seated. And if I may ask Chacellor Benham and Vice Chancellor Moniz back to the podium. And will our faculty marshals Drs. Jennifer Byrnes and Monica LaBriola please take your position at front. The faculty commencement marshall is a duty of honor and distinction. Our faculty marshals were selected because of their significant achievements. Dr. LaBriola was the recipient of the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2017, and Dr. Byrnes played a key role in collaboratively developing a forensics anatomy course that won a national award. Congratulations to the both of our faculty marshals, and mahalo for your contributions to our campus! [Applause] Will all the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of
Education, Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, Bachelor of Arts in Public
administration, The Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, as well as the students
who are candidates for certificates, please rise. [Applause] Chancellor Benham it gives me great
pleasure to present to you these candidates. They have completed their
respected courses of studies and are recommended by the faculty for the award
of the appropriate degrees and certificates. By virtue of the authority
vested in me, by the Board of Regents, and the State of Hawai`i, I hereby confer upon
you the degree and certificates to which you are entitled. [Applause] Graduates this is a very important
symbolic rite of passage from student to graduate. Keep your eyes on the faculty
marshals who will guide you through the symbolic transition from candidates for
a degree or certificate to holder of a degree or certificate. With your marshals
as your guide you will now move the tassel on your motor boards from right
to left. [Applause] Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you
the University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu Fall 2017 class. [Applause and cheering] Congratulations UH West O‘ahu graduates. Thank you Chancellor Benham. I would like to give special recognition to my co-emcee and UH West Oʻahu graduate Rashad Hicks.
Ladies and gentlemen, this brings our commencement to a close. You may greet
your graduates in the plaza and the grass field to my right. To view today’s
commencement ceremony online please visit our website at uhwo.hawaii.edu.
Will the audience please remain at your seats until the platform party, faculty
and students have exited. [Music: Pomp and Circumstance playing in background]