I always wondered if there was really a difference between the terms “graduation” and “beginning.” I finally consulted them. “Graduation” is “the award or acceptance of an academic degree or degrees.” We certainly did earlier this month – we awarded nearly 700 degrees and certificates to graduates of UH-Maui College and the University Center which is made up of students living on Maui and taking classes through UH -Manoa and UH-West O’ahu. Many of you may not be aware of how closely campuses across the UH system work together and about the broad degree offerings made possible by our system-wide distance learning program. This is a boon for our students. Incidentally, this number represents a marked increase from the pandemic years.
“Beginning” is “a beginning or a beginning.” And that’s how I prefer to think of – and refer to – the joyful experience we all had on May 14th. Because I believe we sent our graduates out into the world excited and prepared for their next chapters, whether that be a new job or continuing education or simply as more complete members of our community.
After two years of “virtual” and only partial face-to-face ceremonies, it was thrilling to see over 220 graduates in their caps and gowns surrounded by approximately 3,000 family members and friends. Beginning 2022 was really a party.
We took a moment to remember the UH-MC ‘ohana members we lost this year – Kelly Watanabe, Melissa Bonnin, Carlton “Boy” Atai, Betty Leis and most recently Chef Tylun Pang. We looked forward to hearing his keynote address and also to awarding him an honorary doctorate. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days before our opening ceremony.
We were lucky that one of Chef Tylun’s close friends and a chef he mentored, as he has mentored so many others, volunteered. Chef Kyle Kawaki is an honored graduate of our Culinary Arts program (2002), a former instructor of this program, an accomplished chef and, since 2013, the owner and operator of the very popular Maui Fresh Street food truck.
His message inspired our graduates and our guests. We think this will resonate with many of you as well. He outlined five keys to success, regardless of your field of study or area of expertise. First, find a mentor. Second, create a plan – for one year, two years, five years, 10 years, whatever works for you. Third, pursue your dream, not the money. Fourth, be a teacher, impart your knowledge to those around you – edifying others edifies us all. And finally – and perhaps most important of all – giving back to your community. Chef Kyle leads by example. In eight years, he was able to donate nearly $400,000 to nonprofits and people in need. And it all came together in a simple little Aloha Tip jar that sits on the counter of his food truck.
I will borrow Chef Kyle’s own words from all the graduates around the world. “It’s a time filled with opportunity. Go out there and achieve greatness. It’s there for the taking.
And now it’s time to move on — after some summer rest and relaxation! We hope you will consider the fall of 2022 to be the perfect time to begin your journey at UH-Maui College. Whether you have just graduated from high school or are a non-traditional student looking for a new career path or personal improvement, we have something for you.
For complete information on UH-MC, please visit maui.hawaii.edu/.
You can apply now for Fall 2022 classes at maui.hawaii.edu/apply/. You can also get started at enrolluhmc.com/.
If you want to watch all or part of our opening ceremony, go to www. youtube.com/watch?v=LEJ4JvbKZAU. For those of you reading this who may be visitors or mainlanders or new to Maui, I urge you to watch at least the first 30 minutes or so and the last 15 minutes or so – you will hear beautiful Hawaiian music , hear the language spoken, see the hula, and learn about our college’s sense of place. And you’ll see for yourself a whole different side of why Hawai’i and Maui Nei and UH-Maui College are so special.
* Dr. Lui K. Hokoana is Chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “Sharing Thoughts” appears on the fourth Saturday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from the staff of UH-Maui College and is intended to provide the Maui County community with information about the opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and teaching centers.