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Lt. Gov. delivers Commencement Address for SDSU cohort class

“Pursue your passion — it’s the most important thing you will ever do”
reporters@samoanews.com

As the commencement speaker for this year’s San Diego State University (SDSU) cohort graduation ceremony, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga urged graduates to “never surrender, to realize and recognize failing, [and] find happiness”.
 
These were the three important points of Lemanu’s address to the 22-graduates from three ASG departments who received their Bachelor of Arts degrees with emphasis on criminal justice. Both Lemanu and Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga received their Masters degrees last December from SDSU.
 
Lemanu told the graduates that “we must never give up no matter how tough the situation may be, because no matter what happens, no one can ever take away your right to fight. As long as you persevere, then nothing is impossible to achieve.”
 
He also said that “there are also many of us that would prefer to sit still and remain with what blessings and achievements we've received so far. We refuse to search further beyond where we are today, all because we are afraid and concerned that we may fail.”
 
“Don’t be afraid of failing because failing is a learning lesson,” he told graduates, who were also told that “service is not necessarily everyone’s calling, and it's most important to do to what makes you happy, versus blindly serving others just because that’s what other people say you should do.”
 
“Think about what makes you happy. In your ideal life — what would you be doing? What’s your passion? Pursue it, because it's the most important thing you can ever do in life,” he continued, adding quickly, “don’t let the noise of another’s opinion drown out your own. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition...”
 
“Now is time for you to move on to what’s next. Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity that you might miss the right opportunity,” he noted. “Recognize that there will be failures and acknowledge that there will be obstacles, but you will learn from your mistakes, and the mistakes of others — for there is very little learning in success.”
 
“Never surrender, recognize failing, find happiness,” he concluded.
 
Prior to Lemanu’s address, Education Department director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau gave her remarks, recalling the graduation theme — “the  least expensive education is to profit from the mistakes of others and ourselves.”
 
She rephrased the theme and stated, “the trials and tribulations of life are not only free but the best learned lessons of life.” She added, “In essence, we need to apply the best practices we’ve learned from life to make changes for the better."
 
“I testify to you, having worked with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for almost a full year, that he is the governor for change… changes which are necessary to make things right and better for the people of American Samoa,” she said.
 
She also pointed out that this was not an easy task for the graduates — over the last three years — to not only continue working full time in their government jobs, but also to tend to their courses of study.
 
This was also acknowledged by the university’s Dr. Theresa Lally in her remarks, congratulating not only the graduates but also their families for their support. “It’s not just one person getting this degree, it's the entire family getting this degree,” she said. “So I'd really like to thank all of you for your support.”
 
She also said that the last three years have not been an easy road for the graduates, calling their achievement, “a group achievement, a family achievement, a village achievement and a nation’s achievement.”
 
Also representing the university was Dr. Roger Caves, who told the graduates that “we expect you to make a difference in the lives of each person you touch, both professionally, and personally.”
 
The graduates made special presentations of plaques, which included one presented to former Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who helped start this program, and Rev. Ned Ripley, former chairman of the ASG Scholarship program.
 
Lemanu in his speech acknowledged the foresight of Togiola and the previous Scholarship board for supporting the cohort program from the start.



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