Hundreds of exuberant graduates celebrated their achievements with their families, friends, faculty, staff and colleagues at Chaminade University’s 59th Commencement. Approximately 429 students graduated this spring semester with nearly 335 participating in the May 15 ceremony held at Neal Blaisdell Arena.

The program featured as its keynote speaker Shelley J. Wilson, the president and chief executive officer of Wilson Homecare and vice chair and secretary of Chaminade University’s Board of Regents. In 1996, Wilson founded Wilson Homecare, one of Hawaii’s largest private-duty home health care agencies. Wilson Homecare provides in-home health care services island-wide. Also in 2013, Wilson Senior Living Kailua, a state-licensed Adult Residential Care Home opened in the Aikahi neighborhood.

Wilson inspired the audience with her story.  She found her passion during one of the most difficult times of her life.  Returning to civilian life as a wounded warrior, Wilson had to deal with the challenges of recovery in the home.  Her experiences gave her empathy for in-home-care patients. In response to those hard times, she founded Wilson Homecare.  She encouraged the soon-to-be graduates to find a cause and to dedicate themselves to that cause with a passion as a way to find purpose and meaning.

Commencement student speakers were Taylor Seth Stutsman, the undergraduate representative, and Rezettakahealani Eric Mulitalo, the post-graduate representative.

Stutsman graduated with his B.S. in Forensics Sciences, Cum Laude.  That night his family came from five different states to cheer for him. He moved to Hawaii from Pennsylvania and appreciated the diversity of Chaminade. “Hawaii has taught me more about acceptance and tolerance than I could have imagined,” he said, appreciative of the multi-cultural experiences made available to him at Chaminade.

Mulitalo graduated that night with her M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration. Raised in Western Samoa, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wellington, New Zealand. “You do not have to know what you are going to do with the rest of your life yet,” she reassured the graduating students. She advised them to remember what the Scottish scholar William Barclay had said. “’There are two great days in a person’s life –the day we are born, and the day we discover why,’” she quoted. “Watch your choices, follow your dreams and love what you do.”