Yahoo! co-founder to keynote UH Hilo commencement May 16

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Date: Friday, May 1, 2009
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo will feature one of the biggest names of the Internet era when Yahoo! Inc. co-founder and part-time Hawaiʻi resident Jerry Yang delivers the keynote address at spring commencement, scheduled for Saturday, May 16, at 9:00 a.m. at Edith Kanaka`ole Stadium.

A total of 487 students representing the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (404), College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (20), College of Business and Economics (43), and Ka Haka `Ula O`Ke`elikolani College of Hawaiian Language (20) are candidates for various degrees or certificates.

The 40-year-old Yang was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to San Jose, California at the age of eight with his mother and brother. Yang earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He has maintained ties to his alma mater, and is presently on leave from the University’s electrical engineering Ph.D. program.

Yang emerged as one of the stars of the dot-com explosion while still in college, when he teamed with David Filo to create an Internet website consisting of a directory of other websites in 1994. “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” was later renamed Yahoo!, leading to Yang and Filo co-founding Yahoo! Inc. the following year.

What began as a web portal with an extensive directory of products and services for online activities has since grown to become a leading global Internet brand and one of the most heavily trafficked networks. The company provides services in more than 30 languages and in more than 30 countries, regions and territories, including localized versions of Yahoo!

As a key member of the executive management team, Yang’s focus at Yahoo! throughout the years has included corporate strategy, technology vision, strategic business partnerships and international joint ventures and talent recruitment.

Yang is also a member of the company’s board of directors, in addition to sitting on the boards of Yahoo! Japan, Cisco Systems, Alibaba, the Asian Pacific Fund and Stanford University Board of Trustees.

In addition to his high tech achievements, Yang has earned a reputation as a philanthropist through his generous support for higher education. In 2007, Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, donated $75 million to Stanford University, with $50 million designated to support environmental research. His previous gifts to Stanford have funded scholarships, undergraduate education, and other campus programs at the School of Engineering, the Asia Pacific Research Center, the Stanford Japan Center, and the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

Yang will be honored during the UH Hilo Commencement with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to recognize his achievements as a global visionary and for his charitable contributions.

Patricia Michaels-Hausman-Walters, who will earn bachelor of arts degrees in psychology and anthropology, along with a certificate in women’s studies, will serve as student speaker. A non-traditional student, Walters` success at UH Hilo is the latest chapter in an inspiring story of triumph over adversity.

Walters enrolled at UH Hilo in 2003, 12 years after suffering a traumatic brain injury when she slid head first into the galley service door handle of a DC-9 while working as a TWA flight attendant. The accident initially left her in a vegetative state with numerous physical and cognitive injuries, unable to write or speak.

After months of rehabilitation, Walters regained the ability to speak and write. Years later, she still faces long-term learning disabilities such as long- and short-term memory loss, and the loss of math and organizational skills, but manages to overcome those challenges through hard work and determination made possible by an unshakable spiritual strength.

She completed her first semester at UH Hilo with a 3.5 GPA, and despite the challenges she must continually overcome, is on track to graduate with a GPA of 3.0. She spent three years with Professor Stephanie Dodge researching domestic violence issues in addition to volunteering at the UH Hilo Women’s Center since 2003, and performed in the 2009 Vagina Monologues.

Active in campus affairs, Walters served two years as president of the UH Hilo Chapter of PSI-CHI National Honor Society for Psychology. She held various offices with the Psychology Club over a three-year period, including president, vice president and secretary. Walters also served as president of Freedom Equality Movement to promote equality for all and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Her commencement address will challenge the graduating class to use the power of their education to change the world.

Walters plans to return to the classroom this fall to pursue a masters degree in counseling psychology or a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She hopes to eventually open a wellness center to help women who have suffered similar traumatic events by providing training and teaching new skills they can use to help them rebuild and enrich their lives.

For more information on Commencement, contact Judith Fox-Goldstein at 974-7555 or email For special accommodations, contact Susan Shirachi at 933-0816 (V) or 933-3334 (TTY). Requests should be made at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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