For University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa spring graduates, the future is now, and the three commencement speakers—Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and students Kailani Jackson and Gordon Asato—spoke of the challenges and opportunities that await them.
UH Mānoa held its 112th annual commencement exercises in the morning and afternoon of May 13 at the Stan Sheriff Center. Approximately 2,300 students participated in the ceremonies.
Luke is Hawaiʻi’s 16th lieutenant governor, the third woman to hold the office, and the highest-ranking Korean American in a U.S. statewide position. She previously served as a Hawaiʻi state representative including more than a decade as finance chair.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, she immigrated to Honolulu with her family at nine-years-old. She attended K–12 public schools and graduated from UH Mānoa and the University of San Francisco School of Law.
As lieutenant governor, she is leading efforts to expand broadband and preschool access across Hawaiʻi. Luke is a mom, dog mom, wife and attorney. Read more about Luke.
Morning ceremony student speaker Kailani Jackson, who is 65 years old, is a Los Angeles, California native who moved to Maui in 2019, and enrolled in UH Maui College, graduating with an AA in liberal arts. She then transferred to UH Mānoa, where she graduated with two bachelor of arts degrees—one in ethnic studies and the other in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in peace and conflict resolution.
Jackson plans to continue her academic journey by pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees after graduation. She has consistently excelled academically, earning summa cum laude honors and a place on the Dean’s Honors List every semester. Read more about Jackson’s journey.
Afternoon ceremony student speaker Gordon Asato was born and raised on Oʻahu. He spent most of his childhood interested in robotics and mechanics which led him to the UH Mānoa College of Engineering.
He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. With his degree, he hopes to make the skies safer in the aviation and aerospace industry. Aside from school, he also enjoys cars and photography.