July 5th, 2005

Congratulatory Remarks for Graduates of the University of Hawaii Health Careers Opportunity Program

Good Evening.

I am honored to be here to present congratulatory remarks to you for receiving certificates for completing the initial summer phase of the University of Hawaii Health Careers Opportunity Program. This is an important federally funded program that provides opportunities to individuals from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to bring diversity to the health profession. Congratulations on all your hard work and perseverance!

Just this Tuesday, I returned from a trip to China and Thailand. I traveled with the governor, colleagues in the State House, state department officials and Hawaii business leaders in China. I continued on my own to Hong Kong and Thailand with another state representative. In China and Thailand, my colleagues and I encouraged the exchange of education, technology, culture, and trade. One of the topics that came up was healthcare and how our respective states must help our aging communities. Right around the corner, Hawaii must be ready to take care of a big "Baby Boomer" generation. Therefore, you will be the leaders at the forefront addressing Hawaii's health issues.

In Thailand, I did not have a chance to visit the tsunami devastated areas, however, I did get a sense of the impact it had on the people and economy. I pray a natural disaster with that magnitude never hits Hawaii, but should something happen, your work in the health field will be critical.

In my line of work as a politician and businessperson, I am fortunate to experience many cultures and communities. Each of you have different traditions and cultures to share with others. By learning from each other, we become closer as a community. Your understanding of culture will be beneficial as you help people in need.

I really want to thank you for your dedication to the health field. My younger sister is a doctor, so I have an idea of the hard work and devotion it takes. Your kindness and re-assuring face is priceless for a person who needs your help.

Let me also extend my congratulations to the parents, family, friends and loved ones who have supported you to reach this point. For your accomplishment brings pride to your family and community.

In your desire to commit to a profession that cares for the health of others, you have already become a successful partner in the quality of life for the people of our State of Hawaii. Again, please accept my heartfelt congratulations and thank you for your participation in this important program.