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May 13, 2011
NOTE: Presient Greenwood also delivered congratulatory remarks at commencement ceremoires for UH Hilo and the John A. Burns School of Medicine and attended the UH Manoa advanced degree ceremonies.

Hawai‘i Community College Commencement Remarks

Aloha kakou. It is a pleasure for me to be here and to share in this wonderful evening.

I am honored to be a part of tonight’s milestone occasion as Hawai‘i Community College celebrates its 70th anniversary. That’s 70 years of transforming thousands of students’ lives.

I have a special place in my heart for community colleges. Community colleges open their doors to all students and provide a stepping stone to a world of endless possibilities. My own son found his direction at a community college after he served in the Coast Guard.

I commend all of Hawai‘i Community College’s faculty and staff, past and present, for your dedication to this important charge over these past 70 years, and for your commitment to continue to do so for many more years to come.

Throughout my career in higher education, there has been no other time that has brought me more joy and fulfillment than the commencement season. Commencement is a time to rejoice in the important student and faculty success that it represents. Tonight’s celebration brings a smile to my face just as much as it does all of yours.

I want to encourage our graduates, as you all prepare to enter the next phase of your lives and careers, to be courageous and to be innovative. Armed with your education, your ideas and your passion, you are now in charge of charting your own course. I have great confidence in you and your success.

Now, we all understand that the economy poses some real challenges for new graduates, particularly for those of you embarking on new careers. But, I also know that the men and women of the Class of 2011 are more than up to that challenge. We have students who have worked multiple jobs while taking full course loads; some who balance academics with caring for loved ones; and yet others who have overcome academic challenges and have worked twice as hard to reach their goals.

Sitting here tonight, you’ve proved to yourself and everyone here that you have what it takes to overcome any obstacle that may stand in your way.

Higher education transforms lives, and you all are about to begin a new phase of your transformational journey. Let your knowledge be your guide and your heart be your compass, and don’t be afraid to accept a little help. Your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles, teachers, friends—they are your safety net. To all of them here tonight, I extend special thanks for supporting our graduates along the way.

Today, our graduates gain another support network as they join a new family—our University of Hawai‘i alumni family. These are people just like you who are proof of the power of a University of Hawai‘i education.

On behalf of the university, I want to say how truly proud we are of your accomplishments. Congratulations and best wishes.