Gabriela Aguilar Lawlor

Vulcan Athlete Gabriela Aguilar Lawlor shares her aloha for UH Hilo as Student Speaker of the 2019 Fall Commencement 

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Gabriela earned her bachelor of arts in political science and plans to continue her education at UH Hilo to pursue a second degree in kinesiology while competing on the Vulcan tennis team.

A copy of her 2019 Fall Commencement Student Speaker speech is published below, courtesy of Gabriela Aguilar Lawlor:

Commencement Speech

Abraham Lincoln said “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” It is important to remember on this exciting day that our journey does not end here, in fact we are now just beginning. Vulcan pride reminds me to Imua everyday. We must move forward with our new knowledge both learned in class and in our everyday experiences and use it to make the world a better place. 

When I first touched down in Hilo I had no idea what to expect, but it became evident very quickly that this University was special. The friendships I have made here are the ones that I am confident will stretch far into the future, they are truly my Ohana. The culture of inclusiveness is one like no other college campus in the entire United States, and that is why I believe it is the perfect location for the creation of the leaders of tomorrow. 

Imagine 15 years from now looking up your alma mater and seeing your name listed on the notable Alumni for outstanding research in Marine Biology, grinding it out and becoming a professional athlete or developing life saving pharmaceuticals… winning a nobel peace prize for exemplifying what it means to have pono and love in your heart…. These are all possibilities because we are the what’s next, and we have all earned it.  

I may be an idealist, but I believe that if we bring forth our strength and will all things can become possible. When I first decided to choose Hilo as my home for the next few years of my life I was unaware of the adventure it was going to take me on. Heartbreak, failure, loss, disappointment, embarrassment, and these are just to name a few. I realize these all seem like bad emotions, however if you have gone through the college experience than you understand that with each of these feelings comes a lesson that we didn’t quite realize we needed until we were reflecting and growing as people from it. 

Heartbreak taught me that when you least expect it someone can walk into you life and be the best friend you never thought you wanted, but most definitely needed. 

Failure showed me that although we will fall short at times, our professors pushed us to our limits to find the lesson that we can take into our academic and personal futures. 

Loss and disappointment by far taught me the greatest lesson which is that in life you will be disappointed often, but it is not the outcome you will be judged by, but in fact by the way you hold your head. 

Embarrassment is an emotion we are all a bit hesitant to admit we feel, however through my many embarrassments I have learned that the only person whose judgment matters is your own, and as long as you can have pride in your ability to to spread love and show courage there is no one who can make you feel otherwise. 

It is important that together as a class we remember to forgive all and forget nothing.  The Moral is we are the next generation of fighters for this world, not only this country. Coming from a university that is so diverse we have to take our knowledge of acceptance into our adult lives and work to create the planet that we can have pride in. There is no such thing as I anymore, we together as a collective people need to rise to the occasion and take back the values that we believe in, because that is what the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and the local culture has instilled in me. Together we can, because we all matter. A hui hou.