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Home West O‘ahu Happenings ‘Grit and determination’ part of commencement student speaker’s message

‘Grit and determination’ part of commencement student speaker’s message


Image courtesy of UHWO Staff

After being selected to address his fellow graduating classmates and guests in attendance at the upcoming University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu Spring 2023 Commencement, Anthony Tamayo Miguel is taking the honor to heart and is mindful of the messages he hopes to share.

“Thank the people who support you while they are still alive, have the grit to keep moving forward, and be the leader you wish you had,” said the ‘Ewa Beach resident, 27.

Miguel will be among the participants and one of two commencement student speakers at the ceremony — which for the first time will be at the Stan Sheriff Center on the UH Mānoa campus — at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 6. All guests are welcome on a first-come, first-seated basis, and will be able to greet their graduates at the Les Murakami Stadium following the formal program.

This semester, more than 300 students are candidates for graduation, and of these students, about 240 will be participating in commencement, which will celebrate Applied Science, Business Administration, Creative Media, Cybersecurity, Education, Humanities, Natural Science, Public Administration, and Social Sciences candidates. UH West O‘ahu graduates from 2020, 2021, and 2022 were also invited to take part in the ceremony, and about 70 will be participating.

Miguel will receive a Bachelor of Education with a concentration in Elementary Education, as well as an Asian Studies Certificate. He is among the Education Division’s largest graduating class to date, with nearly 50 Education candidates for graduation being recommended to the Hawai‘i Teacher Standards Board for a Hawai‘i teaching license.

‘One of the top students in his class’

Miguel graduated from James Campbell High School in 2014, then enrolled at UH West O‘ahu in fall 2014.

Miguel said one of his most notable accomplishments as a UH West O‘ahu student was creating in 2015 the International Student Club, a Registered Independent Student Organization (RISO) that provides an opportunity for its members to gain awareness and meet the ever-growing international student population at UH West O‘ahu, and to promote student participation in educational, cultural, social, and community activities.

“Another achievement is I had the opportunity to study abroad in South Korea,” Miguel said.

In fall 2016, as part of a study abroad program at UH West O‘ahu, Miguel was able to attend Tongmyong University as an exchange student.

“So I got to experience college life (there), and when I returned, I encouraged other students to study abroad, too,” he said.

Miguel started the elementary education program at UH West O‘ahu in fall 2021. Faculty and staff within the program noted that Miguel was an exemplary student.

“Anthony is someone who sees what needs to be done and doesn’t hesitate to provide support or take on a leadership role,” said Dr. Laurie James, associate professor of Math Education.

Dr. Richard Jones, professor of Science Education, added, “Not only was Anthony one to provide support and take on leadership as Dr. James said, he was one of the top students in his class and always willing to mentor his peers when they were challenged by the content or concepts being covered. He is also a ‘natural’ in the classroom and will be a great asset to the school and community lucky enough to hire him.”

Beginning of a new chapter

Miguel’s college journey took longer than he expected for various reasons — from financial constraints to family health issues, and of course, the pandemic.

“It took me nine years to graduate,” Miguel noted. “It wasn’t easy, but it took grit and determination to overcome the setbacks and struggles I encountered.”

Now Miguel sees his upcoming graduation as the end of a chapter in his life and the beginning of a new one.

“This chapter of my life took a long time to finish, but it was filled with opportunities and experiences I couldn’t replace,” he said.

Looking ahead, past graduation, Miguel aspires to teach abroad in South Korea.

“I want to experience the similarities and differences in the education systems,” he said. “After, I want to return and teach in Hawai‘i, giving back to my community and sharing knowledge.”

Miguel emphasized that UH West O‘ahu created many opportunities to prepare for such goals. He said, for example, he learned how to be a leader through his involvement with the PUEO (Peer Undergraduate Engagement and Orientation) Leadership Program, a peer mentor program dedicated to helping new students adjust to the social, personal, and academic aspects of college life.

“In addition, creating a RISO helped me create a community that focuses on understanding other people from different cultures, families, and personalities,” Miguel said.

He continued, “Finally, the education program provided resources and opportunities to find what type of teacher I wanted to be.”

Dr. Stephanie Kamai, Coordinator of Field Experience with the Education Division at UH West O‘ahu, said Miguel is thoughtful and cares deeply about others.

“Anthony demonstrates qualities that are highly valued in the teaching profession, qualities that cannot always be taught in class,” Kamai said. “His sense of humor, dedication, integrity, willingness to step forward and take risks were so appreciated by his instructors and classmates. It has been a gift to me to be one of his many instructors.”

Education Division lecturer Kathryn “Katie” Nakahara added, “Anthony is the same person in and out of the classroom. He is humble, genuine, incredibly hardworking, and continuously pursues a growth mindset. I’m excited to see all the amazing things he will do next!”

Click here to read more about Gabriel “Gabby” Navalta, who was also selected to be a Spring 2023 Commencement student speaker. Commencement student speakers were chosen on criteria including academic achievement and a record of meaningful university or community service.