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Sacrifice, Determination, and Education

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Aloha. I am grateful to be here today.

I want to begin by telling Sister Tanner how grateful I am for the good example she has set for me and for the BYU–Hawaii community. After Keoni and I accepted this position, I started to worry. I was excited for this opportunity, but I know life is going to change drastically for my family and that created anxiety and concern. After talking with Sister Tanner on the phone I felt peace. She is a great leader and her strength and love is easily felt by others.

Keoni and I have been married for nearly 17 years. We have five children. Our son Sai is 13, our daughter Mealani is 11, then there is Nawai he turns 9 a week from today. Keawe comes next he is 6. Last, we have our two-year-old son Kaleo. Each of us is excited to be part of the BYU–Hawaii community.

Early in my life I learned that education is worth sacrifice and hard work. As a young child, I listened to my parents decide that, at the age of 42 and with eight children at home, my dad would go back to school and become a registered nurse to make a better life for their family. The next few years were difficult. Both of my parents worked full time and my dad attended school full time, they had very little time and even less money. We prayed daily for support from our Heavenly Father- asking Him to sustain my dad as he was at work until late at night, studied into the early hours of the morning, slept a bit and then started again with clinical hours and classes before sunrise the next day. I still remember the excitement the day that he received the news that he had passed the licensing exam and he was now officially a Registered Nurse. Those years were hard on all of us, but my parents set an important example of faith and determination.

Shortly after I married Keoni he started his PHD work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. I wanted to continue my education and started taking classes at St. Louis Community College to complete an associate degree in chemistry. My classmates were from an incredible variety of backgrounds. We worked closely in the lab and I learned a lot about their lives. We hosted them in our home and developed strong relationships as we supported each other through our educational path. This was a joyful part of my life and I learned and grew academically, personally, and spiritually.

I had completed my degree and worked for nearly two years in the pharmaceutical industry when we were blessed with our first child. I loved my work in chemistry, but felt strongly that it was time to begin a whole new phase of my education- Motherhood!

Having five children has taught me that no two people are alike. When I work to fulfill my children’s individual needs, I quickly realize that I need to rely on my Heavenly Father to help me know how to raise each child. They are each unique sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. They are His children, given to me to raise and He knows what they need. Being a mother to my five children has changed me in so many ways. I learn new things every day.

One important lesson I have learned is the beauty of forgiveness. As the years have gone on, I have learned to humble myself and ask my children for forgiveness when I have lost my temper. It always amazes me how quickly they forgive and forget. No wonder King Benjamin said become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love” (Mosaih 3:19). I love being a mother and it has been the most rewarding education. And I am grateful that I get to continue this education through eternity.

The mission of BYU–Hawaii is 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.

In Alma 37:6 Alma told his son Helaman of the great important and future impact of the plates of brass and other scriptures. He taught him that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”

My parents taught me to keep the sabbath day holy, to study the scriptures and to pray. Obeying the commandments and practicing these simple habits helped me be successful in school and are the perfect way to teach my children the blessings of living the gospel. I believe that the grand mission of BYU–Hawaii will likewise be brought to pass by small and simple things.

Every aspect of my secular and spiritual education has brought me joy. I want each of you to know how excited I am to be part of that same joyful experience for you at BYU–Hawaii. I will do everything I can to be a meaningful part of the effort to support our students.

I have a personal testimony of the positive impact of education on peoples’ testimonies and lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us. I testify that Christ will sustain us in our righteous desires. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I share these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.