MANOA (KHNL) - Wearing their green caps and gowns, December 2007 graduates at the University of Hawaii, Manoa received their diplomas.
More than one million students have graduated from U-H in the past 100 years and they are encouraged to give back to their community.
The members of this graduating class are asked to reflect on the institution's long history. There were hundreds of proud graduates and family members celebrating this milestone.
When their name is called and they step up to the podium many graduates clutch their diploma and think about the future. What job offer will they accept? How much money will they make? And some ponder the big question, what difference will they make in life. But some aren't focussed on tomorrow, rather the journey that led them here.
Using braces to walk up to the podium, Chris Niemczyk earned a Masters Degree in American History. "I was born premature 2 months so I ended up with condition called cerebral palsey and so I have some eye-hand coordination problems and visual difficulties that make it hard to scan and read so it's very slow," explains Niemczyk.
Chris Niemczyk is 39 years old and from Kailua. It took ten years to get here. "It didn't affect my mind though so I have been perfectly capable able to achieve my goals in college it's just taken me a lot longer."
Chris' dad Nick Niemczyk reflects, "As I've gone around campus there are so many young men and women that stop and say, hey Chris how are you doing and they talk to him a little bit. So I think seeing how hard he has to work, I think they all take a little bit of pride in the fact he's completed this program."
Chris Niemczyk uses his knowledge of history to educate visitors at the Arizona Memorial. His future may include teaching and being active with historical preservation.