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by Kalamalama Staff


Mayor Mufi Hannemann shared center stage with nearly 700 graduates at HPU’s recent 66th commencement ceremony at the Waikiki Shell.

Hannemann highlighted HPU’s 40 years of success in bringing students from all over the world to study in Honolulu. He congratulated the graduates on their academic achievements and challenged them to continue to set high standards and lofty goals in their personal and professional lives.

HPU President Chatt G. Wright honored Hannemann with the Fellow of the Pacific Award, HPU’s highest accolade.

Valedictorians for the event included Rachel Brown, Jun Elegino, and Kamaka Parker.

Brown (B.A. in English), the managing editor for the University’s literary magazine, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, and a member of four honor societies, is a woman on a mission. As president of HPU’s Creative Writing Club for four years, she helped implement the English Department’s book swaps, student readings, and writing marathons.

“ Rachel not only set the bar high,” said HPU English professor Dr. Kathleen Cassity, “by consistently producing the most excellent student writing I have ever seen, but she also assumed a leadership role by mentoring fellow students.”

With a 4.0 G.P.A., Brown knows how to work hard and manage her time. She donated services to the Kailua Women’s Correctional Facility’s prison writing project and led the Creative Writing Club on “ghost walks” through Chinatown, performing the stories along the way.

While at HPU, Brown won three consecutive undergraduate writing award, including the Mark David Bauer Award for Environmental Writing and the Castle & Cooke Hawai‘i Fiction Award from the O‘ahu Arts Center.

A graduate of Konawaena High School on the Big Island, Brown recently was awarded a scholarship to the highly prestigious New York Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga Springs.

Representing the military campus programs, Elegino was one of more than 100 nursing students to graduate in HPU’s spring commencement. Elegino (B.S. in Nursing) could be “the poster child for HPU’s Nursing program,” said HPU interim nursing Dean Dr. Patricia Lange-Otsuka.

A member of the HPU Spirit Club, Elegino grew up in Mililani and graduated magna cum laude from Mililani High School. He has served in the Army National Guard and is a member of three HPU honor societies.

Elegino said HPU’s built-in support system helped him succeed in college. He worked as a critical care technician at Straub Hospital’s intensive care unit through his years at HPU, and he has accepted a position as a cardiac intensive care nurse at the University of Missouri Hospital.

Parker (M.B.A. in Management), a graduate of Kamehemeha Schools completed her undergraduate degree at Pepperdine University.

For graduate school, she said, “HPU appealed to me because it offered an excellent education in a small, private school setting.”

Parker, works as a program specialist at Kamehameha Schools. She said that HPU helped bridge the gap for her between college life and the working world.

“ As an M.B.A. student, I learned the key components of operating a business. I have applied many of the skills such as planning, organizing, implementing, budgeting, and writing in my current position,” she said. “These skills can be applied in any setting and just having the knowledge and ability is extremely helpful.”


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