Graduation Honors

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One of the highlights of the school year for both students and faculty is graduation. For many of our young people here in Hawai`i, they may be the first person in their family to ever get beyond high school, if that far. It’s a highly emotional time, especially when one of them stands up and tells her or his story of what college has meant to them.

The picture above shows one of the young women who took many classes from me, and actually gave the graduate talk at the ceremony several years ago. Her comment to the audience about how much I had meant to her brought tears to my eyes.

Because we are a University Center, we provide a place for students to get everything from an Associate of Arts degree (through Hawai`i Community College), a Bachelor of Arts degree (through University of Hawai`i West Oahu or University of Hawai`i Hilo), and even a Master of Arts degree. Students may elect to receive a certificate in Human Services, Culinary Arts, Substance Abuse Counseling, or Early Childhood Education. So it’s no wonder our graduation brings “dignitaries” from all the schools.

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So even though we are a small “parking lot” campus at this time, we have a fair number of students passing through our doors (for face to face classes) and computers (for online classes).

Today is the graduation ceremony for 2009. It is with pride that I join other faculty members this afternoon in “walking the line,” as we honor those who are receiving either degrees, or certificates, or both. In true Hawai`ian fashion, everyone gets leis from family and friends, almost up to their eyebrows to the point that they can scarcely breathe or see.

A couple years ago, I received an award for being an outstanding teacher, and I received my own share of sweet-smelling leis, actually more than this picture shows.

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Once, a colleague at the University of Arizona in Tucson said that graduation was like a “death,” because many of the students we’ve been close to for so many years are leaving and we’ll never see them again. He was so right! The nice thing about our graduation here is that most of these are young people who will remain in our community as teachers, counselors, or whatever career they go into.

So now it’s time to put on the “mortar boards” and head out for the 2009 graduation ceremonies.

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Congratulations to all the grads!
Congratulations to all the parents who supported them!
And congratulations to all the faculty who pass the torch of knowledge!

A hui hou!

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