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Pagud encouraged her classmates to “always find the light,” a sentiment once shared by Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledor.

KS alum delivers Harry Potter-inspired commencement address at UHWO

Jan. 28, 2016

Marissa Pagud, a 2005 graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, recently delivered a speech on behalf of her classmates at the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu’s fall 2015 commencement.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, Pagud frequently quoted Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, one of her favorite characters. Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Pagud challenged her classmates to “always find the light” as a way to find happiness – a philosophy that has helped her overcome obstacles to achieve her academic goals.

A single, working mother who is dedicated to learning and teaching, Pagud endured through challenges and persevered until she ultimately achieved post-secondary success.

Pagud began her college career at Leeward Community College in the fall of 2005. In her commencement speech, she acknowledges changing her major often. After rediscovering a love of literature thanks to one of her UH West O‘ahu teachers, Pagud pursued a degree in arts and humanities with a concentration in English.

An outspoken advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community and committed to Native Hawaiian culture-based learning, her senior project used a Hawaiian culture-based lens to discuss the struggles faced by LGBTQ youth in our local community.

Pagud attributes her success to the support and love of her son Kama and family.

“Make good choices, carry the aloha spirit with you always, treasure every moment you have and always find the light,” shared Pagud, at the end of her commencement address.

“Mischief managed.”

Pagud’s speech can be found at the 1:07:35 mark in the video from UH West O‘ahu’s Fall 2015 commencement. Photos and video are courtesy of UH West O‘ahu.

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