Sunday, 15 May 2011
Although rain and an islandwide power outage threatened to ruin their graduation ceremony yesterday afternoon, the Pacific Islands University class of 2011 simply wouldn't let that happen.
And as if the weather knew that it had no chance of ruining their day of celebration, the sun came out shining just in time for the graduates' entrance. PIU students dodged the newly made puddles dotting the campus grounds with smiles on their faces and walked toward the sea of canopies set up for their outdoor graduation. While the ceremony was considered small and intimate, the excitement and cheers from the crowd easily rivaled that of much larger schools.
PIU graduated 17 students -- some receiving their associate's degree, others their bachelor's degree, and one her master's. In fact, the school gave its first master's degree to Peng Li Johnson -- a milestone for both Johnson and the university.
The Mangilao school had two valedictorians this year, Xuefen Mei and Grateful Nokar, who tied with a grade point average of 4.0.
Joyce Owen, who had the second highest GPA, was selected as salutatorian.
Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio served as the ceremony's commencement speaker and encouraged the graduates to "take the good and the bad experiences and learn from it." Before stepping away from the podium, Tenorio commended the school and students for its faith-based education system. Staff and faculty then sang "Holy, Holy, Holy" to their former students as a gift and fond farewell.
After all the special speeches, students filed to the back of the canopies to be called up to receive their diplomas. Graduates each chose a special Bible passage that was read while walking to receive their diplomas, which led some to tears.
"I have mixed feelings. I'm happy because it's the end and I accomplished something, but I'm sad because I have to say good-bye to my PIU family," Nokar said.
"The Pacific Islands University has been a big icon in my life, but I feel I'm ready for the next step in life," Johnson said.
Pacific Daily News 10 May 2011