Their work cut out for them


POSTED: Sunday, December 21, 2008
This story has been corrected. See below.

After more than six years, Travis Nagai finally received his degree in travel industry management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Now he has to find a full-time job.

With a 15.9 percent drop in visitor arrivals in November and the industry headed toward is worst annual dive in 75 years, the 25-year-old graduate says he'll try to upgrade to full time from his current part-time job as an associate at Horizon Lines.

“;I have to see how it works out now,”; said Nagai. “;I don't know. It doesn't look so good. Hopefully in the next year or two it picks up again. Having any kind of job is the only thing on my mind right now.”;

Nagai's clear-eyed determination to find work is something most of the 1,781 graduates at the yesterday's UH-Manoa campus commencement ceremony shared.

Mary Bitterman, president of the Bernard Osher Foundation, delivered the commencement address at the Stan Sheriff Center, noting how difficult it is to “;put aside the stark realization that we live in difficult times.”;

“;To the solution of these terrible problems, each of us can bring only limited expertise,”; she told the graduates. “;But it is to be hoped that together - and remember the parable of the bundle of straws - we will be able to solve them.”;

Bitterman said the graduates should draw on Hawaii's sense of discovery, environmental ethos and aloha spirit for inspiration in this time of crisis and reconstruction.

“;More than 20 years ago, it was predicted that the 21st century would be the Pacific Century, and given our provenance and location, it should be Hawaii's century as well,”; Bitterman said after noting Hawaii-born Barack Obama's victorious presidential campaign.

Some students yesterday anticipated the economic downturn, and made sure they were employed before graduating. Jaime Uota, 23, of Kaneohe, is a part-time account manager for Hewlett Packard. He now has a marketing degree.

“;I was definitely worried, that's why I started my job search early,”; said Uota, who got his job at the beginning of last summer. “;I feel a lot more secure now.”;

A pair of accounting majors, Colleen Yoshiro and Jane Okada, both landed jobs in their field.

“;We applied a year in advance, but with the economy we have to work really hard,”; Yoshiro, 32, said. “;Hawaii generally doesn't feel it until a little bit later, so we'll see. But today I'm really happy.”;

In an interview after the ceremony, Bitterman said the graduates need to be bold in the face of current adversity.

“;I think this is a time for people who have both skills and heart to get in and move America forward,”; she said. “;I'm very bullish. As I look at the 1,800 faces that were here today, my point is that all of us in every way that we can need to support educational opportunity.”;







In the second image of the photo gallery attached to this story, University of Hawaii marshal Amy Hubbard and an unidentified man present Patti Mieko Isaacs with her hood in honor of her doctorate Saturday. The original caption incorrectly labeled the unidentified man as Craig Howes.


Aimee Vogelgesang is the correct name of the new University of Hawaii graduate shown in the third image in the photo gallery; she obtained a business and marketing degree. She was previously misidentified as Haruko Katsuie, who graduated from the nursing school.