Student Address to Graduates
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
February 27, 2016
Elder Hallstrom, President and Sister Tanner, distinguished guests, families and friends, and my fellow graduates, Aloha!
I am humbled and honored to speak to you on this special day. I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me get to this significant highpoint marker in my life.
I acknowledge the help of Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ, my family, especially my wife Annie, my friends, and my caring and capable professors. Again, thank you very much.
This is a very joyful sight, to see the many I have worked and associate with during my time here at this beloved school. My Fellow graduates, Congratulations! This is a special moment, one we have looked forward to, and worked hard for, but let’s keep moving forward to the prophesied journey to be anxiously engaged and to “go forth to serve”.
The vision of BYU-Hawaii states that this university exists “to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life and in their efforts to influence the establishment of peace internationally.” Now, take a moment to look around. Can you see how from this group, peace can be established internationally? We are a very diverse university, and every one of us has the potential to be Christ-like leaders in the future. That is our charge and our destiny.
Before coming here, I never thought that I would meet so many different people from countries that I had never even heard of before. Many who I got to serve and associate with are outstanding and friendly people. I have grown to love and respect each one of them, and with their support and examples, I can truly feel the spirit of Aloha throughout this campus and community.
Please allow me to reminisce a little this morning. I can never forget my first day after arriving on campus. I checked into my dorm room tired and clueless. And then, my neighbor knocked on my door to greet me. It was Raj from Fiji who immediately helped me get settled so that I can have a great start to what has become a very productive and enjoyable time here at BYU Hawaii. Raj married Ahra Jo from South Korea, and they have since moved there where Raj is pursuing his graduate education. This is a simple example of how the vision is fulfilled. We learn to love people around us, despite the differences that we have. What we do here, in a small way will help set the pattern for what we will do in the large world that we are about to enter.
As we leave this beautiful University, we also need to know that one day, we may face some things that will challenge our integrity and the values that we have
learned here and throughout our upbringing. When that time comes, we need to know what we stand for. As the world is constantly changing, remember the lyrics from the song “True to the Faith”:
Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No!”
True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.
Brothers and sisters, we have gone through part of the refining process that, if we are faithful will eventually turn us into “genuine gold” which President David O. McKay described as men and women “who cannot be bought or sold”, and we need to be courageous to stand for what’s right. When you feel that it is too hard to face the challenges in life, remember this scripture from Helaman 5:12.
“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
I know that when we rely upon the power of God to stand up for the right, and also to serve people around us, we will receive strength and guidance. Brothers and Sisters, let us stand for what is right. Let us be the leaders that the world hungers for. I know that as we follow the spirit, we will establish peace wherever we may go. I love you all, and I know that our Heavenly Father and our Savior love us. May we go forth to serve with courage and faith. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.