Watch: UH Hilo 2021 Spring Commencement

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo released its virtual 2021 Spring Commencement at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 15, with a drive-through celebration for graduates only livestreamed beginning at 10 a.m.

Approximately 571 students have petitioned for degrees and/or certificates from the Colleges of Arts and Science; 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 for various post-graduate credentials.

The pre-recorded videos include remarks from Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin along with photos and messages from graduates.

Keynote speaker is Professor Lorna Tsutsumi. Three student speakers deliver pre-recorded remarks.

 Welcome Messages

Keynote Speaker

Lorna Tsutsumi, UH Hilo professor of entomology, specializes in honey bees in Hawaiʻi and developed and runs the UH Hilo apiary and bee garden, teaches about bees and beekeeping, and produces practical knowledge and scientific literature about honey bees that benefit local beekeepers. In addition to her research and teaching, she also has developed and marketed value-added bee products made from the honey and wax extracted by beekeeping students from the bee hives at the UH Hilo Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa. Monies generated from sales help support UH students.

In 2011, Tsutsumi teamed up with Chef Alan Wong to launch the Adopt-a-Beehive with Alan Wong program to raise awareness of the critical plight of honey bees and to promote solutions to sustaining the local honey bee industry. In 2012, the program was recognized by the Hawaiʻi State Senate for its local and global contributions to the understanding of the importance of honey bees.

Tsutsumi was awarded the 2012 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, the 2010 Chancellor’s Pūlama ʻIke Award recognizing significant contributions to the mission of UH Hilo, the 2008 Distinguished Service Award for Improving Student Life, and the 1988 Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching.

Student Speakers

Kiaria Zoi Nakamura is a lifelong Buddhist with a passion for writing and a love for the stage. Between balancing four part-time jobs and being a full-time student, she spends her free time planning future travel plans, singing karaoke with friends, and binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. In her senior year, she wrote for this website, UH Hilo Stories. She is graduating with a degree in English, minor in performing arts, and two certificates in educational studies and creative writing. Some of her proudest moments at UH Hilo include receiving the Presidential Award, choreographing for the Performing Arts Center’s Hawaiian Nutcracker, and making a presentation at the 2021 Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium. Her future plan includes a career in higher education.

Nina Sabahi is graduating with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a bachelor of science in biology. She is an active member of the Student Arts Association, having served as treasurer, vice president, and president. She is passionate about communication and uses her skills as a volunteer mediator for Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center and as a crisis counselor at the Crisis Text Lin. She intends to go to graduate school to ultimately practice psychiatry.

Eric Tejada is a business administration major who has received multiple College of Business and Economics Dean’s List recognition. He also is the recipient of several scholarships, including the CoBE Scholarship. Tejada works with the UH Hilo First-Year Experience Program as a student office manager. He also is a member of the Lambda Psi Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity where he served as vice president of community service in 2020. He will continue to explore the financial industry with HFS Federal Credit Union, and aspires to pursue his master of arts in teaching at UH Hilo.


The pre-recorded ceremony can be viewed on the UH Hilo Commencement webpage. The drive-through event will also be available for viewing on that page May 15, 2021, livestreamed at 10:00 a.m.


Student speakers videotaped by Kirsten Aoyagi.