Congratulations, and purple flowers

The University of Hawaiʻi celebrated fall commencements in December with outstanding students addressing their fellow graduates.

Josh Renzo Claudio, UH Mānoa

UH Mānoa’s Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony—held December 21, at the Stan Sheriff Center—featured student speaker Josh Renzo Claudio. An estimated 800 students participated in the commencement ceremony.

In his speech, Claudio urged his fellow graduates to be proud of the choices they have made and to go forward choosing their paths in life, always remembering that “I have a choice.”

Claudio graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, specializing in electro-physics. He is the current technical lead for UH Mānoa’s Smart Campus Energy Lab. Claudio’s career passions are in renewable energy, environmental protection and STEM education. After graduation, Claudio plans on immediately pursuing a master’s of science degree in electrical engineering at UH Mānoa.

Gabriela Lawlor, UH Hilo

UH Hilo awarded approximately 170 degrees and/or certificates at the campus’ Fall 2019 Commencement held December 21 at the Vulcan Gymnasium and featured Vulcan tennis player Gabriela Lawlor as the student speaker.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Lawlor accepted a tennis scholarship to play for UH Hilo. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, a discipline she chose because of her strong passion for international relations and human rights. Following commencement she will be interning in Spain, working with the Spanish government, and plans to continue her education at UH Hilo to pursue a second degree in kinesiology while competing on the Vulcan tennis team.

Lawlor spoke highly of her UH Hilo experience and encouraged her fellow Vulcans to learn from heartbreak and embarrassment and to become leaders going forward in the world: “together we can, because we all matter.”

Pearlena Sarono Stone, UH West Oʻahu

Graduates, family and friends celebrated at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu’s fall 2019 commencement exercise on December 14 where more than 300 students received bachelor’s degrees and certificates.

Student speaker Pearlena Sarono Stone graduated with a degree in social science with a concentration in psychology. Stone was accepted to the UH Manoa College of Education’s educational administration program. The Waiʻanae High School and Leeward Community College alum received the Student Service and Leadership Distinction Award at the Pueo Awards. She also served as an ASUHWO caucus ambassador, a Pueo leadership project team member, and is a member of the PSY CHI and the Student Activity Board.

Stone thanked her mentors and encouraged her classmates to be “changemakers” like those who made a difference in her life. “Transform the lives of others as you transform and improve your own life. Perhaps show a little more aloha, be less judgmental, share a smile with another, help someone attain a college degree, push through a tough time, or simply see things through another perspective. Use your newfound degree to fuel your passion to be a changemaker and go for it!”