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Aug. 2, 2011

UH Hilo Science and Technology Building blessing

It is such a pleasure to be with you this morning and especially to hear the inspiring remarks from Ashley, who is a living example of the reason we are all here. She is part of the next generation of leaders in our society, who will carve the pathways of the future after we are long gone.

Ashley’s words remind me of some of the most eloquent testimony I have ever heard, from another young woman of the Big Island, who spoke before the State Board of Land and Natural Resources earlier this year about her dreams. She, too, is in the process of becoming a scientist, an astronomer, in fact.

“Honey, that’s a man’s field,” she heard. “The chances of you even getting into this program are highly unlikely. In fact, what kind of Hawaiian are you?,” as if she were betraying her culture and heritage. If I may take the liberty to share with you further, this young lady thought, “My ancestors were astronomers. They recognized the stars and used them not only for timekeeping, but also for traveling vast oceans! There has to be a connection between science and culture. There has got to be a bridge that connects the two together and if there isn’t, then let ME be the one to build it.

“From that day,” she testified, “I knew that the achievement of my goals would not be just for me, but more so for those keiki of our future generations who desire to do the same. Life is about taking advantage of opportunities and making the most out of them,” she concluded.

That’s what we are doing today in dedicating this building—giving our youth the chance to make the most of their opportunities. This Science and Technology Building will be a signature structure for the UH Hilo campus, but it’s much more than that. It is a symbol of the limitless vista ahead for those who want only the chance to achieve their dreams. It will be the highest reflection of the natural gifts of our island of Hawai‘i, and serve as a living laboratory for astronomy, chemistry, physics and other scientific and technological disciplines; and it will significantly enhance the educational and research mission of the University of Hawai‘i System.

I look forward to hearing wondrous discoveries and innovations from the scholars and scientists who will walk these hallways and gather in these labs, and I thank all of you here today who contributed to making what was once a dream…a reality.