Blessed with Opportunity: Tom Nitao ’21

Senior Class President Tom Nitao ’21 shared the following message with fellow students at Punahou’s virtual Convocation in August.

Today, we observe the celebration of a tradition that has been ongoing for the past 179 years. The world is very different now. And in times of sweeping change, we pause to honor a new beginning in a way that no other year has done before.

Standing before us now is an opportunity unlike any the world has ever seen. This is a blessing, because it will make us stronger. Many of us are scared, desolate and alone right now. This struggle works to our benefit because it links us together as humans, regardless of creed, age or status. Many of us are uncertain about what the future holds. This only guarantees that we will forge our paths ahead together, because divided there is little we can accomplish.

Many of us know a family member or friend who has been affected deeply by the coronavirus, and because of that, we are inextricably bound by the shared tragedy of loss. Standing as one in confronting the unprecedented strife we face is what a school like Punahou is built for. We, as Punahou students, have been blessed with the opportunity to stand audaciously in the face of uncertainty – not because we have the answers, but because we draw power from one another.

Punahou students, we are the future, and nothing can take that away from us. Seniors, our Class of 2021, no one is more privileged than us to be leading the charge towards a new beginning. Whether I get to see you in person or over Webex meetings, know that while we may not be physically together, nothing in this world can tear us apart.

Twelve years ago, I sat down on the track and watched in awe as another kid spoke alongside the president, principals and esteemed colleagues. Because of you, I get to live out my dream today. I couldn’t be more grateful.

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