Skip to main content

2021 Inauguration Alumni Greeting

President and Sister Kauwe, Sai, Mealani, Nawai, Keawe, and our sweet Kaleo—on behalf of the more than 30,000 BYU–Hawaii alumni, I am honored to welcome you to the BYU–Hawaii ‘ohana and, especially, to welcome you home.

‘Ohana means family, but for Polynesians, ‘ohana or aiga or famili extends far beyond biology. And I should know—I’m a Samoan biologist. The spiritual and cultural connections of ‘ohana can also include friends and community members connected by their love for each other.

As a student here, I learned that we truly are ‘ohana on this campus. And as such, there is a spoken and unspoken agreement inherent in our core cultural values to take care of each other. When President and Sister Kauwe were called to serve, my first thought was how excited I was for BYU–Hawaii to be gaining such great leaders and the Kauwes to be gaining such a great ‘ohana. My next thought was completely selfish: “Wait, what happens to me?” Fortunately, the brethren asked that arrangements be made so President Kauwe’s research could continue at BYU. This meant that I still had a job.

We are all familiar with Elder Uchtdorf’s talk “Lift Where You Stand,” in which he shared the story about a group of brethren moving a piano. After several failed attempts, one of the brethren spoke up and said, “Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.”1 In a forum a few years ago, President Kauwe shared that, to him, this principle means the need to leverage all of our talents to serve each other.

To my BYU–Hawaii ‘ohana, the Kauwes are very talented and are here to serve. I truly believe that the Lord prepared them to be here at this time to lead our university. If I had to describe the Kauwes in one word, it would be love. The Kauwes love you. Their love for you is evident in the way that they serve. They pray for you and your families. Everything they do is to ensure your happiness and success.

To my Kauwe ‘ohana, we are here for you. On behalf of our vast ‘ohana network, which extends from the Pacific Islands to Europe to Asia to the US and everywhere in between, we pledge to stand close together and to lift where we stand in support of you. We are ready to serve and place our full confidence in you. We know your impact will be felt for good for many generations to come.

Peresitene Kauwe, ua vala'au 'oe e le Ali'i, ua fa'apa'ia fo'i 'oe e le Alii. O ou māmā an. Ia malie lau ti'a. Saga'i ane 'ai o le tai. Maua le tofā poto, tofā loloto, tofā fa'ale Atua. Ia maua lou soifua. Ma ia manuia lau ta'ita'iga. 

May the Lord bless you in this great endeavor. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


  1. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2008, 53.