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Always Remember

BYU-Hawaii Commencement (April 21, 2018) - Atu Tonga Maile Falevai

President Tanner, our guest of honor Sister Bingham, faculty, graduates, family and friends: Aloha

I am deeply humbled, to be chosen as your student speaker today.

Before I continue, I want to express my sincere love to my beautiful wife who is graduating with me and both of our parents who are here with us. Their support and my wife’s sacrifices made it possible for me to be here today.

Class of 2018, this is indeed truly an honor and a privilege to speak to you today. Looking out among you, I feel humbled, because my words cannot comprehend all of your individual journeys to this day. One thing I know is that all of us have made so many sacrifices to be here! And though our stories may be similar in some ways, each one is unique in its own way.

Some of you are parents, some of you are preparing to become so, and some of you are deciding to be one, and some of you may be looking for the one.

Wherever we stand in life, I think a common goal that we have is to become a better son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a better spouse and a better example for our children and those around us.

President Monson said and I quote “We should remember that our lives may be the book from the family library, which our children will most treasure. Are our examples worthy of emulation?...we truly are an open book in the library of learning in our homes.” Closed quote.

I want to tell you that my mother’s example of sacrifice to gain an education brought me to stand here with you today. My mother has been my role model of dedication and commitment in every aspect of life, especially in obtaining an education.

When my mother was 42 years of age and after having 8 children, she thought it was a great opportunity to finish her education. I had the opportunity of following her with my little sister to Fiji for her studies. I remember the struggles that she went through, it’s been years since she was away from school, she couldn’t even use a computer, so she would hand write all her assignments. Her professors encouraged her to learn how to use the computer, so she’ll stay up all night learning how to use the keyboard, learning how to even place her fingers on the keyboard. I remember my sister and I having to sleep on the cold classroom floor some nights so that she can try her best to learn from her friends how to type and to submit assignments. Long story short, my mother finally graduated and a couple of years later she went on to do her Masters degree and graduated at age 50.

Every time I have a hard time here in school, I always remember these humbling experiences. I remember my mother. It didn’t matter how old she was, she wanted an education and she did it. Whatever circumstances we go through in life, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade just like my mother.

President Tanner and Sister Tanner, faculty and staff members, I join with my fellow graduates today in thanking you for sharing your Aloha with us all.You indeed have accomplished the mission of Brigham Young University-Hawaii, “to integrate both spiritual and secular learning, and to prepare students with character and integrity who can provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen fields, and in building the kingdom of God.”

BYU-Hawaii has taught me to appreciate a lot of things. I appreciate the different ethnicities, the different experiences, the different challenges. Most importantly, BYU-Hawaii taught me to appreciate education.

I am grateful for the sacrifices of parents, donors, programs and those who made it possible for us to gain an education.Let us remember their sacrifices. The key is to always REMEMBER. Remember your roots, remember your home, remember what all of this was for.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen