Kapi’olani Community College, May 10, 2019
Valedictorian Speech 2019
BY: Joan Dantzig
Aloha, my name is Joan Sevilla Dantzig and I am a graduate of the Hospitality and Tourism program. Welcome aboard our final journey together as classmates! I wish a warm welcome and Aloha to Chancellor Pagotto and esteemed guests. Mahalo for providing us with a safe and steady port for us to venture out from. Thanks to University of Hawaii Foundation for your financial support along the way. Welcome to our special guests, especially friends and family. You truly, are the captains of our ships, the pilots of our airplanes, the drivers of our tour buses! To all of the proud parents, we dedicate this achievement to you, as you were always by our side through this journey. Special thanks to my wonderful husband, Steve, who trusted and believed in my dream. You supported me from the start, and I share this diploma with you. I also offer my Aloha to our amazing faculty, counselors and staff, especially the late Kumu Na‘i: I thank you. You all believed in me and made sure that I knew that I belonged here. You taught me more than just the skills, that I need for my future career with all your knowledge and trust.
The idea of standing before you as a graduate of Kapi‘olani Community College was beyond my wildest dreams 13 years ago. I am from the Philippines and graduated from high school in 2006. I moved to Hawaii almost 6 years ago with a dream of working in the hotel industry. I began that journey by entering the Hospitality program. It felt overwhelming at first because I felt like I did not belong as English is my second language. KCC taught me that language is not a barrier to achieve your goal and has, in fact, introduced me to Japanese, my third language!
I will “officially” move into a full-time position at Luana Waikiki hotel tomorrow! and am working on finishing my general education courses at KCC before transferring to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to pursue the combined Bachelors/Masters degree in the Travel Industry Management program.
To all of the graduates, our fellow journey-mates, I congratulate each of you for making this dream come true. It was not always an easy ride: the “tour bus” experienced some detours; we felt a little turbulence in the air and we even opened a few “bad” bottles of wine along the way: but we made it!
Henry Ford noted: “Whether you believe that you can or believe that you cannot, you are right.” There are two more important lessons that our KCC mentors taught us. Those lessons are to trust and believe in ourselves and our abilities. We gained the skills and confidence to enter the workforce or pursue our dreams because of you; we learned to believe that we can. We CAN: THAT is the lesson I carry with my KCC diploma. You all taught us to enjoy life’s detours because the scenery is spectacular, buckle up when it gets bumpy, and yes, open a fresh bottle of wine!
Now, my fellow graduates, go out, BELIEVE YOU CAN and make your dreams realities. Tonight, we end one journey, and board a connecting flight to embark on life’s new adventures. Ganbatte, Salamat and Aloha!