Senior Speeches: Kūpa’a Fernandez ’19

December 20, 2018


The schoolʻs aloha is why I, and I believe many others grow so close to this place. I am not saying this place is like Hawaiʻi, because definitely itʻs not! But I believe Shattuck is just as special as Hawaiʻi.  

Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

I was born in Kamuela on the Island of Hawaiʻi and raised in the small town of Kapa’au, in North Kohala. I was born in an area rich in Hawaiian history - a place where people like King Kamehameha, the first king to conquer all the islands lived. From birth, I was immersed in the Hawaiian culture and all that it had to offer.

I was three years old when I began a daily routine of driving 45 minutes across the Kohala mountain range so that I could attend Hawaiian immersion school. Hawaiian immersion school that taught me not only the Hawaiian language but the music, the stories, and the dances. Through this school I understood my culture and the values that are important to my people.

One of the most important things I learned from my family and my school is how to live with aloha. Aloha is a Hawaiian word that has many meanings. When tourists visit Hawaii, they are taught that aloha is simply a greeting - meaning hello and good-bye. However, aloha means so much more than that - those five letters combine to mean affection, compassion, mercy, kindness, patience, and most importantly love, all in just one word.

There is a Hawaiian proverb that illustrates the importance of this word: “Aloha mai no, aloha aku; o ka huhu ka mea e ola ole ai.” The literal translation of this proverb is that when aloha is given, aloha is received and anger has no life. However, the deeper meaning of this proverb is that it is our responsibility to share aloha daily. This means showing love to other people, genuinely caring about them, and offering a helping hand whenever it is needed.

Aloha is the foundation of the Hawaiian culture and its people. It is not just a nice word or idea, but it is a way of life and there is an expectation that if you are going to live in Hawai’i and you truly understand its people, then you also understand what this word represents and you will make a commitment to “live aloha”. “Live aloha” is a phrase in Hawaii that reminds people to be more kind and compassionate.

These are the values I was raised with, and this is what I believe to be true. When I moved from warm, beautiful, sunny Hawaii to cold, snowy, freezing Minnesota, I nonetheless experienced this same aloha here on this campus. When I first arrived, I was surrounded by people saying, “Here, let me help you with those begs.” Even with their weird pronunciation, this aloha made me feel right at home.

Sharing aloha is a part of who I am, and it is something from my culture that I have found to be a part of Shattuck-St. Mary’s as well. It’s what makes this place so special. For example, whenever you pass someone in the hallway you are greeted with an enthusiastic, “Hey! How are you?”, and many times you donʻt even know the person that is greeting you. The schoolʻs aloha is why I, and I believe many others grow so close to this place. I am not saying this place is like Hawaiʻi, because definitely itʻs not! But I believe Shattuck is just as special as Hawaiʻi.  

I want to thank my ʻohana for giving me this great opportunity to attend Shattuck and be a part of this community and to my Shattuck ʻohana, thank you for making my high school experience unforgettable. Aloha wau iā ʻoukou. Mahalo and Thank you!

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