President Wright, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, family, and friends, Aloha!
I'd like to begin this speech with a quote by actor James Dean, who once said, "Dream as if you'll live forever, And live as if you'll die tomorrow."
We as graduates have come here today to celebrate the accomplishment of one of our dreams, completing a major chapter in our lives. How many of you would have thought a few years ago that you'd be sitting here today, in beautiful Hawai'i, to receive your degree with Diamond Head in the background? I certainly didn't imagine that I'd ever be experiencing an evening like this one.
Four years ago, I was still a high school student in Germany, not really sure what to do with my life. Upon high school graduation, I decided to just go for it and pursue my dream of traveling the world, which eventually brought me here to Hawai'i. Dreaming large has more than paid off for me. During my time at HPU, I was able to make wonderful friends from all over the world, learning about their cultures and teaching them about mine. Moreover, I majored in literature, which I love, and encountered great professors in my field who helped me to accomplish my goals. I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences at HPU and are as happy as I am to celebrate tonight that one of your dreams has come true.
In his quote, James Dean points out not only the importance of dreams, but also of enjoying yourself while pursuing your goals. There were times at HPU when I had to study pretty hard to get through all of my classes and to eventually graduate. I guess we have all experienced those nights when you sit over a paper at three o'clock in the morning, unable to concentrate because your eyes keep wandering over to the bed, which looks so good and inviting. You really have to remind yourself then why you're doing all this and that, yes, it will pay off in the long run. And I also had a lot of fun on the way. After all, the next time you relax on the beach or go surfing, you're pretty happy again with the life you're leading. I mean, we're in Hawai'i of all places. How can you not enjoy yourself here?
President Wright, I want to thank you for the great experience I have had at HPU. I'd also like to send a big mahalo to my parents, who unfortunately can't be here tonight. Without your love and support, this dream of mine could not have come true.
My fellow graduates, let us dream on and continue to go after our goals, and let's not forget to live a little while we're at it.
And tonight is our night, so let's have some fun and celebrate!