On May 13, 2022, I had the honor of delivering the commencement address to the Class of 2022 at Hawaiʻi Community College on the island of Hawaiʻi. Congratulations to nā haumāna and all of the parents, grandparents, ʻohana and friends that stood with them during their academic journey.
Hawaiʻi Community College is part of the University of Hawaiʻi system. Nearly half of the student population is Native Hawaiian, and hundreds of these learners are first-generation students. Through the Native Hawaiian Student Success Initiatives, the University of Hawaiʻi Community College “embraces its responsibilities to the Indigenous people of Hawaiʻi by ensuring that Native Hawaiians…have every opportunity to achieve success.”
I chanted and shared wisdom from the ʻOli Aloha and the moʻolelo of Manono. Below are excerpts from my commencement address to the graduating class.
On Life’s Challenges: “I salute you who are completing a significant milestone in your educational path and life journey…you will discover many opportunities and a chance to fulfill your dreams…you will also encounter many obstacles and challenges…You may even face relentless opposition and injustice.”
Personal Homecoming: “While this is your commencement, it is a homecoming for me.
Edith Kanakaʻole, for whom this stadium is named, and her husband, Luke Kanakaʻole, are my ancestors. On my mother’s side, I am a Lupenui. And on my father’s side, I am descended from the long line of the Akina ‘Ohana…my ‘ohana hail from the Kaʻū District of this great island of Moku o Keawe, and my ancestors lived in little towns across the moku such as Pāhoa, Kohala and Miloliʻi.”
Live with Aloha: “…A hiti mai no ʻoutou, A hiti pu no me te aloha.” Fill your heart with aloha…this is your call to move beyond your time at Hawaiʻi Community College and into a new time of transforming yourselves and the world around you.”
Call to Service: “…throughout…Hawaiʻi, there is poverty, homelessness…injustice…lack of medical services, environmental and cultural threats…these challenges are opportunities…they show that love’s in need of love today. They are your calling to go forth and serve…We, your kūpuna, your ʻohana, your ancestors, and community are looking to you to create the future of Hawaiʻi.”
On Perseverance: “…If we think of ourselves as victims and blame other people or the circumstances around us…we have no power to change our condition…when we realize that others do not have the power to take away our love, joy, and peace, we will never be their victims…we have the power to determine our happiness and how we face life.”
On Change: “…Confucius shared the secret of how to change the world: ‘If you want to change the world, then change your country. If you want to change your country, then change your city. If you want to change your city, then change your village. If you want to change your village, then change your family. If you want to change your family, then change yourself.’”
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