On a day to celebrate academic success and tenacity, student speakers Leilani Carrero and Kira Makuta took the spotlight at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s 107th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at the Stan Sheriff Center. Keynote speaker General (Ret.) Eric K. Shinseki addressed the graduates at both ceremonies. An estimated 2,200 students participated in the commencement ceremonies.
Leilani Carrero, the morning ceremony speaker, earned her bachelor of arts in political science in the College of Social Sciences. Carrero urged her fellow graduates to always remember their sacrifice and commitment on reaching their academic goals. “When I think about the world today and the state we are in, I am daunted by what might happen,” she said. “But when I look out at the 107th graduating class at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, I see nothing but success. You are a community of hope bringers and the tide that will lift the boat of the future.”
Kira Makuta, the afternoon ceremony speaker, graduated with a bachelor of arts in public health in the Office of Public Health Studies within the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Makuta says the university gave her more than academic knowledge, such as helping to build her strong character development and a world view. “We’ll remember the first time we didn’t feel fear when faced with opposition, because UH taught us to be at the forefront of change—to accept all races, all religions, to be understanding and to be respectful,” she said.
General (Ret.) Eric K. Shinseki
General (Ret.) Eric K. Shinseki, U.S. Army 34th Chief of Staff, United States Army, was the keynote speaker for both the morning and afternoon ceremonies. Born and raised in Lihuʻe, Kauaʻi, he served in the military for 38 years and was the highest-ranked Asian American in the history of the United States. Shinseki urged graduates to follow their hearts, saying, “I’m just not sure you even know what’s in your heart at this point, but finding out is really worthwhile—who you are, what you truly believe, what stimulates your intellect and what passion fires your soul.” He encouraged graduates to do their part by participating in our government. “Read, study, be informed of the issues and then stand in line to vote…keep us the great democracy that we are.” Shinseki said growing up on Kauaʻi gave him lessons big enough to live by. “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “I’d marry the same woman and join the U.S. Army. Good luck and find wonderful, purposeful lives.”