University of Hawaii's Manoa campus celebrates graduates

Published On: May 12 2012 04:39:00 PM HST

Four, five, even 35 years after they started their paths to a college degree, more than 1,400 University of Hawaii Manoa students received their diplomas Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.

For some,  it's back to the books right away while others are eager to put what they've learned to the test.

"Probably grad school.  More education, more money, more knowledge, more power," said graduate Joy Agran.

On this Mother's Day weekend, Leina'ala Bright and her daughter graduated, together.

The 55-year-old mother of four dropped out of school but returned decades later to earn a bachelor's in Hawaiian Studies.

"We realized in the last years that we could probably do it together," Bright said.

Saturday's commencement ceremony was bittersweet for Sgt. Jonathan Taylor who among the cheers fought tears as he accepted his late wife's diploma.

Kristina Taylor was studying geology and geophysics. The 27-year-old died this year after a complication from a swimming accident at Kailua Beach.

"It's very special for me to take it on behalf of her.  It did mean a lot to her. It took a lot of personal time to be able to do this," said Taylor.

This is the second tragedy for Taylor, whose first wife died in a car crash.

Sgt. Taylor was deployed in Afghanistan when Kristina was hurt.

He said Kristina looked forward to donning her cap and gown.

"It was all she talked about and she was actually afraid that I wouldn't be home for it," Taylor added.

Taylor proudly walked for his wife.


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