I join all university ‘ohana, friends, mentors, and members of our island community in celebrating our graduates.
This semester started off as a roller coaster of changes but I have been greatly impressed with the way the campus community, guided by an unwavering dedication to our mission here at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, deftly pivoted to continue providing our students with a quality education.
And so here we are preparing for 2020 Fall Commencement, which we are putting together virtually with some options for safe interaction with others.
It was not easy for our graduates to reach this milestone. Although some labs, studios and clinical experiences were done in person, most education was conducted online. These online platforms have been highly successful at delivering a quality education, but isolation and quarantine for energetic, curious minds is difficult, loss of social gatherings is difficult, switching to online learning is difficult, coping with a global pandemic is difficult.
However, our campus, in fact all UH campuses, are some of the safest in the country while still fulfilling our mission. Why? Because our stellar students are not inclined to throw away opportunities through irresponsible behavior. Our graduates, and those still working their way toward completing their degrees, know how precious this opportunity for higher education is, and they buckled down to get the job done. I know I share the sentiments of faculty, staff, and our Hawai‘i Island community at large, when I say how proud I feel about our graduates! Well done!
On the other side of the coronavirus, there will be need for even more economic development that is culturally and environmentally sensitive. Our graduates are prepared for these jobs. They came to UH Hilo to work toward a better life for themselves and to contribute to raising the quality of life for their families and their communities. And as we all emerge from the coronavirus crisis into a new world, our communities and ‘ohana will need the skills and knowledge these graduates have acquired.
Traditionally, commencement would be in person for friends and family to share in this joyous occasion. But as we continue to adapt to an online life to help keep us safe and sound, I want to assure you that we still share deep pride in all our students reaching graduation in spite of all the challenges swirling around us. Each student’s accomplishment at reaching graduation is still the most important thing.
I join all university ‘ohana, friends, mentors, and members of our island community in celebrating our graduates. I know each of these amazing scholars will make a big difference in helping our communities move forward in these perilous times, doing their part to help change the world for the better.
I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season. I mua!
Bonnie D. Irwin