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Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Gabbard to deliver UH Hilo spring commencement address

Hawaiʻi Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will address the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo spring commencement as keynote speaker on Saturday, May 11, beginning at 9 a.m. at Edith Kanaka`ole Stadium.

Students have petitioned for a total of 765 degrees and/or certificates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences (460), Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (27), Business and Economics (53), Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke`elikõlani College of Hawaiian Language (46) and Pharmacy (120), while 33 others are candidates for various post graduate honors, and another 26 are seeking the Teacher Education Program certificate.

Gabbard came to Hawaiʻi two years after her birth in Leloaloa, American Samoa. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in International Business from Hawaiʻi Pacific University in 2009. She was first elected in 2002 when she became the youngest person ever elected to the State Legislature by winning a seat in the House of Representatives at the age of 21. The following year, she enlisted in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard and voluntarily deployed to Iraq in 2004.

She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, was the first female Distinguished Honor Graduate at Fort McClellan’s Officer Candidate School, and became the first woman to receive an award of appreciation from the Kuwaiti military on her second overseas deployment. Between tours of duty, she worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, DC. Today, she continues to serve as a Military Police Captain.

Her return to politics took place in 2010 when she won a seat on the Honolulu City Council. In January 2013, she was sworn into office to represent Hawaiʻi’s Second Congressional District.

Ashlee Kalauli, a mathematics major with a minor in chemistry, represents the Class of 2013 as student speaker. Born in San Diego, California and raised in Honoka`a, Kalauli attended Kamehameha Schools - Hawaiʻi in Kea`au where she graduated 5th out of 142 students in 2008 with a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

At UH Hilo, she has maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.87 while earning numerous academic honors and awards, including the Ke Ali`i Pauahi Foundation and Hawaiʻi Noyce Teacher’s Scholarships, the Pearson Undergraduate Mathematics Award, and the Pearson Outstanding Mathematics Senior Award. She was also among a select group of students chosen for the 2012 Pacific Undergraduate Research Experience in Mathematics (PURE Math) program.

Her extensive campus and community activities include being an Orientation Leader and a Student Coordinator for the University’s New Student Programs, math tutor, and host of the First Hawaiʻi Noyce Teacher’s Scholarship Math Day. A member of the UH Hilo women’s basketball team from 2009-2010, she also served as a referee for the 2009 Special Olympics Basketball Tournament.

Kalauli will return to the PURE Math program she excelled in last summer to resume her work as a program assistant. She has also been admitted into the University’s Master’s of Arts in teaching program, which convenes its next cohort in mid-July. After earning her masters, Kalauli plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics with the eventual goal of returning to her alma mater.

For more information on Commencement, call (808) 974-7555 or email commence@hawaii.edu. For disability accommodations, contact Susan Shirachi at (808) 933-0816 (V) or (808) 933-3334 (TTY). Requests should be made at least 10 business days prior to the event.


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