Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen is currently in the Independent State of Samoa. She was invited to speak at the two-day Samoa Ala Mai Advocacy Group’s Prospective Women’s Candidate Workshop that closes Tuesday, Feb. 16 (HST). Aumua was keynote speaker at American Samoa Community College's fall commencement exercises held Dec. 11, 2015. The Congresswoman's speech is printed here to coincide with her Samoa visit.
(WAIPAHU--MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2016)--Talofa students, faculty, administration, family, friends and especially you graduates!!!
I am thrilled to have been given the privilege to be here with you today. I humbly thank the students, faculty and administration of the American Samoa Community College for the opportunity to speak to another esteemed graduating class. It was 12 long years ago the last time I had the pleasure of giving the commencement speech.
Today is all about the graduates, but it is important to begin by thanking the faculty and administration for instilling your knowledge in the minds of our territory’s brightest students and preparing these graduates for their next journey in life. We, the people of American Samoa, appreciate your sacrifice and dedication to seeing our young adults earn a quality education.
To the parents, families and friends here today, I thank you for the support you have given to each of these fine graduates.
To the community members, leaders and employers who have supported these students, thank you also for giving them the chance to strive to make more of their future opportunities and endeavors.
Well, students, today really is a great day for you. This is a time to celebrate your accomplishments and a time to set new goals for your future. Some of you might have wondered if this day would ever come. It got tough sometimes, didn’t it? But you made it and now is the time to show your appreciation to your parents and loved ones for their support and a time to reward them with a hug and a kiss for believing in you. Today is a joyous day and I am excited to celebrate it with you.
Now I want to issue all of you a challenge. I want you to set your goals much higher than you might have thought possible and then push yourselves to achieve those high goals. Yes, you have graduated, but don’t stop pushing now. Go for it and reach for the highest point you can see. Try it!
Many of you might know how hard I worked and how long it took me to become your representative to the US Congress. But, I had set my goal and I never gave up. So, I am now Congresswoman Aumua Amata and humbled by it.
I am proud to represent all of you and to help bring, to this community, all the things we are entitled to. But, it wasn’t easy getting here.
There is a simple equation I want to share with you: HG X HW = HR - The higher you set your goals, the harder it is to accomplish them and the rewards justify the extra effort. I like to think of it as “high goals times hard work equals high rewards.”
The greatest thing about high goals and hard work is the rewards you get along the way. Each one of your accomplishments, on the path to your ultimate goal, will be rewarded with that great feeling of satisfaction.
Of course, you won’t be successful in all your efforts. Those are normal glitches and you will find purpose in your little glitches along the way. Don’t worry, just keep pushing ahead. And, don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it…you can.
The education you are graduating from today is only the foundation for your journey. You have to add to that foundation and build upon it.
For some of you, the building blocks that must be added to this foundation are more education.
For some of you, getting a job to help your family is next.
And for others, the United States military is your next challenge.
For many of you, it will be a combination of these actions that will help you reach your goals.
Regardless of which area you fit in, keep building.
What you offer the United States and the people of American Samoa is your already proven ability to overcome. But to overcome, you have to believe. To believe you have to see. To see you have to trust. And to trust, you have to expose yourself to challenges that grow you as an individual.
I am an example of someone who had high goals and didn’t take no for an answer. It has taken years for me to build on my foundation that started when I sat where you are now, at a college graduation. In order to earn money for college, my first job after high school was to trim pineapples at the Dole Cannery in Hawaii. I’ve worked different jobs, in different fields, to get me to where I am today.
Success doesn’t happen overnight and the path at times is not clear. I ran for public office 11 times over the course of 22 years before my time came. At times did I want to stop? Did people make fun of me, call me names and tell me to stop? Absolutely! But my desire and passion to serve and represent the great people of American Samoa overcame those feelings. I am very honored today that you believed in me and kept me trusting in myself.
I may not necessarily know what each of you wants to do with your life. But I do know that you have a drive to be successful like I did or you wouldn’t have committed to being here today.
Most importantly, always keep God at the forefront of whatever you do and let your faith in God lead you. Let your knowledge and life experiences help you become a contributing member of your community. As you move forward, it’s time to think about a commitment to service in your life. Not only to serve, but to lead.
Make good of your good intentions. There’s a lot to do. Get rid of the notion that dealing with big global problems is more noble than focusing on small ones. If you teach one child to read, you have changed the world. When you change a single person’s life, you’re changing the world, one heart at a time.
Freedom and opportunity can prosper when people take responsibility for their own actions and care for their neighbors as well. And as my parents always told me: Never forget who you are and where you came from. Always remember your home is American Samoa. What you have learned on these islands will carry you throughout life. So, as you venture forth, please do not forget to use your life to not only do well, but also to do good.
And remember: High goals times hard work equals high rewards.
Thank you and God bless. Soifua.
(Read about her Apia visit on the Samoa Observer at sobserver.ws/en/16_02_2016/local/2473/Congresswoman-in-Samoa.htm)