Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 PIU Valedictory Address


The following is taken from the PIU Summer Newsletter….

The class of 2014’s Valedictorian, Jesse Hartt, came to PIU three and a half years ago with some college credit already under his belt. Originally from California, Jesse has family that works at PIU and heard about the school that way. During commencement exercises on May 5, Jesse shared more about this story and his experience at PIU. Read excerpts of his Valedictory speech below.

As Valedictorian, I have the opportunity to represent our graduating class to the families and community around PIU, and to show what truly characterizes the Class of 2014. Given that we have a variety of experiences and educational paths I think I’ll build off the mission of our school which has been present in each of our experiences. Anyone who has heard President Dave Owen speak knows that PIU is here to provide Excellent, Accessible, and Transformational education, but you’ll never understand what that mission looks like until you peer into the lives of our graduates, to see how our lives and worldviews have been transformed from what we knew before into a more Biblical worldview.

In 2010 I graduated from high school in California as an honors student. I decided to apply to any prestigious schools that were close within the state, received acceptance letters from multiple schools, and to my excitement got into one of the most prestigious business schools in Northern California. This is the kind of school that after four years of undergraduate education has an 80% rate of employment within one year of graduation, making $100k a year. In my mind this was the greatest educational opportunity I could possibly get, because I would be able to be financially successful.

We visited the school, but even with scholarships this prestigious school was financially inaccessible. After a semester at the local community college in my town I found myself frustrated with education in general, and considered it a waste of my time. Through connections to PIU, I was talked into moving to Guam for a semester, to experience a new culture and people. My purpose in coming here was travel and a spiritual experience (with PIU being a Christian University), but I didn't really expect a legitimate education or career path. I assumed that PIU didn’t offer what I considered to be a successful education.

Despite my pretenses I began to see that PIU had more to offer than I suspected. My first semester I started to learn the Bible in a way that isn’t secluded from the other aspects of my thinking, but instead how Biblical truth influences my understanding of the entire world around me. I also got connected with a community who’s focus wasn’t to outrank or one-up neighboring schools and communities, but instead to aid and minister to them.

What has really been more educational than the quotations from lectures or the facts that we’ve discovered from our teachers, has been the relational, loving, real, interactions we’ve had with them. Theological discussions seem to be more impactful when over a football game at the President’s home. Science classes become more practical as you search for mollusks under rocks with your biology teacher’s children. Using our education to better serve the community around us is easier to apply when we’ve seen the attitude exemplified by our instructors in the midst of a crisis. The education we graduates have received at PIU has not been one of merely theory, but also of practicality and service.

As Pacific Islands University graduates, we have learned and received the tools we need for the future, but also have received a successful education in the sense of growing as people, and understanding what it means to serve our community, and more importantly, the kingdom of God.

I can truly say that the transformation brought to my life, and also the brothers and sisters sitting around me, is something to thank God for. Education is for the purpose of thinking, looking and acting more like Jesus in our community and occupation.


Dr Hardy said...

What a fabulous testimony from a brilliant student to the honor of God and PIU! God continue to bless and guide you, Jesse!

lwmann said...

Thank you for sharing. It is indeed exciting to hear, but even more importantly to see, the growth and thinking of students as they mature during these critical years of maturation and development. For me it is a blessing to see the outcome as a former teacher and school administrator. I am encourage as I read your blogs and see evidence of the work of the Lord in your life as well David.

Unknown said...

Great job expressing the wonderful educational experience one will find at PIU!