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The Pasifika Commencement Ceremony.

While the pandemic has hampered educational commencements around the country, a recent graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law is making sure fellow Pacific Islanders will not be left out of a celebration.

Ian F. Tapu is organizing an online graduation ceremony to celebrate Pacific Islanders across the country, including Micronesian, Melanesian and Polynesian students who are graduating from high school, college and graduate school.

The first Pasifika Commencement Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, May 29, and will be streamed on Facebook at 2 p.m. HST. To view the ceremony go to the Pasifika Commencement Ceremony Facebook page.

man smiling
Ian Tapu

Because traditional graduation ceremonies have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tapu reached out to his friends throughout the U.S. to help organize the event. Sina Uipi, a policy associate for the nonprofit Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, and Alika Masei, a Waiʻanae teacher, also assisted as co-organizers.

“We’re never sure if this is going to be the last graduation for some of them, so we wanted it to be the best and most celebratory way as possible,” Tapu said.

Commencement speakers which include graduates, community leaders, advocates and scholars will share their stories and any obstacles they have overcome. On the day of the event, a commencement booklet will be available to download on the Facebook page with the speakers’ bios, pictures of the graduates, the village or islands they represent and their schools.

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