ʻAuliʻi Aikau-Osurman is still on cloud nine, a mere few weeks after ensuring hundreds of students, like her, put on their caps and gowns for the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa spring 2022 in-person commencement ceremonies.

Not only did she receive her MEd in educational administration from the College of Education (COE, but she also played a critical role in flawlessly executing the commencement ceremonies which recognized spring 2022, as well as 2021 and 2020 graduates.

UH Mānoa prepared me to become the person I am really proud to be and prepared me for what’s next in my life,” said Aikau-Osurman, who earned her degree in fall 2021.

After graduating in 2019 with a BBA in human resources management and international business with a minor in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), she knew she wanted to pursue a graduate degree. What started out as a graduate assistant (GA) position in UH Mānoa’s Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Excellence (OVPAE) morphed into a life-changing experience, ultimately landing her a casual hire position with the office.

On a day-to-day basis, Aikau-Osurman assists with program review and administrative work. She works as a liaison with different departments to help update, modify, create, or stop-out programs.

“We were very excited when we hired ʻAuliʻi as a graduate assistant in January 2020. She had experience in events as an undergraduate so we knew she would be a great asset to our team. Unfortunately when COVID canceled everything, we weren’t able to hold any commencement events in 2020. Then in 2021, we held hybrid commencement celebrations and saw her strengths as a leader and team player,” said Lori Furoyama, OVPAE commencement coordinator.

Pulling double-duty

Fast-forward to 2022, capitalizing on her ability to multi-task and attention to detail, Aikau-Osurman was tasked with assisting Furoyama with all aspects of commencement coordination. She specifically oversaw the training and coordination of the student volunteers, who are essential to ensuring all the moving parts run as smoothly as possible.

UH Mānoa prepared me to become the person I am really proud to be and prepared me for what’s next in my life.

Aikau-Osurman helped with the first two ceremonies, whether it was troubleshooting, checking graduate and faculty regalia, assisting families with questions and much more. It was not until the Saturday afternoon ceremony when, after triple checking everything, Aikau-Osurman quickly changed into her cap and gown and joined her COE colleagues. She took a deep breath and crossed the stage as the last master’s student to receive her diploma scroll with her mom and grandma watching in the stands.

The well-rounded experience she received at UH Mānoa fueled her passion to continue to work in higher education. “The mentors and opportunities I had really resonated with me and now it’s my turn to give back and support the current and in-coming students of UH Mānoa,” said Aikau-Osurman. “I hope I can be a sounding board for the students as they balance school and work, just like I did.”

With another successful commencement under her belt, Aikau-Osurman is already planning for the next one.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.