UH Hilo 2019 Fall Commencement, Dec. 21: 170 graduates, Chancellor to keynote, Vulcan athlete/poly-sci major is student speaker

UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin will deliver the keynote address at the university’s 2019 Fall Commencement; student speaker is poly-sci major and Vulcan athlete Gabriela Aguilar Lawlor.

Top of a mortarboard with the words: Be the change you want in the world2019 Fall Commencement at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo will be held on Dec. 21. Approximately 170 students have petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the College of Arts and Sciences; College of Natural and Health Sciences; College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management; College of Business and Economics, the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy; Ka Haka  ‘Ula O Ke ‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language; and other post-graduate credentials.

Keynote Address

Bonnie Irwin smiling for the camera
Bonnie D. Irwin

UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin will deliver the commencement keynote address.

Chancellor Irwin has been a leader in higher education for over 20 years, and has served as chancellor at UH Hilo since July 2019. Previous to that she served as provost at California State University Monterey Bay and held two deanships at Eastern Illinois University.

Irwin has long been a champion of providing meaningful opportunities and pathways to success for all students in higher education. This work has led her to build and nurture partnerships between community colleges and universities and to create opportunities for students to study abroad, participate in research and community service, and learn how to thrive in a diverse and challenging world. She is sought out as a mentor by other higher education professionals and was named one of the inaugural fellows of the National Collegiate Honors Council in 2010.

Irwin earned her bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Student Speaker

A woman smiling for the camera
Gabriela Lawlor

Representing the graduating class as student speaker is Gabriela Aguilar Lawlor.

Born in Phoenix, AZ, Lawlor accepted a tennis scholarship to play for the UH Hilo Vulcans. She is majoring in political science because of her strong passion for international relations and human rights. Later this year, she will be interning in Spain, working with the Spanish government.

Lawlor plans to run for political office one day and attributes her passion for peace and love to her family: dad (Ken), mama (LeeAnn), brother (Maximo), and all of her international teammates who are now her family.

She will continue her education at UH Hilo to pursue a kinesiology degree while competing on the Vulcan tennis team.


UH Hilo’s 2019 Fall Commencement will be held on Dec. 21, 9 a.m. at Vulcan Gym. Doors open at 8:15 a.m. for general admission, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. When seating reaches capacity, guests may view the ceremony via live stream at the University Classroom Building, room 100.

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