Student Address to Graduates
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
June 9, 2016
Brothers and Sisters, Aloha!
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for the opportunity that I had to come to this wonderful university and to thank all of the faculty, staff, and students who make it what it is. You all are amazing.
A few days ago, I remembered something that was said to me back in my freshman year. I think it’s a fairly common sentiment here on campus and many of you have likely heard it in one form or another, but it’s the idea that no one comes to this school who isn’t supposed to be here. In other words, that everyone comes here for a reason. I don’t know the origin of this idea, but I know I’ve certainly met a lot of people who feel that way about their experience and I believe that it’s definitely been true of mine. As I thought about it, I found myself pondering that statement and what that reason might possibly refer to. The first time I heard it, my first thought was, “Yes! This must mean I’m gonna find my eternal companion!” I may have been a little naive, but I have met many incredible people, forged strong friendships, had my perspectives widened and learned so much during my time here. I think it’s safe to say this is true for most of us in this graduating class.
In many cases, it is very easy to see the blessings that have come from attending this university in our personal lives right now. We may be happy here, have found majors we love, learned about other cultures, perhaps discovered how to live on our own for the first time. Some of us did manage to find their spouses here – congratulations. But the thing is, we’re leaving – graduating, going to move on with our lives. The exciting new question is how will our education at BYU – Hawaii shape our future? What will we do with it? I hadn’t given it much thought until recently when it struck me that this school is unique. Our experience here is unique. At this school, we came to learn with students from all over the world from vastly different cultures and backgrounds, but united by shared beliefs and standards as well as by a sincere desire to learn. In our classrooms, secular learning could be combined with spiritual insight and diverse perspectives for a much broader understanding. Think about it. We have something valuable that not many people have and that the world desperately needs.
By now we are all, no doubt, familiar with President McKay’s prophetic vision for this school, but I will repeat it anyway. He said, “From this school, I’ll tell you, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.” My fellow graduates, this statement applies to us. We heading out into the world in all different directions towards different paths in life. Wherever we end up, let us not forget our experiences and the things we learned from our time here. Let’s use it instead to shape the world around us for good – even if we can do nothing more than be a little light in a sea of hatred, ignorance, and confusion. Some of us have already seen great blessings in our lives as a result of the decision to come to BYU – Hawaii. Some of us perhaps have not. Regardless, I would imagine if there is, in fact, a reason any of us came to this school, over the course of our lives, that reason may well reveal itself to be much bigger than anything we can see right now. Just think about that.
For now, congratulations! We have made it this far and it’s no small accomplishment. It is a great blessing to be here with you and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Finally, on behalf of our graduating class, I want to recognize and thank all of our amazing professors for your passion and commitment, for inspiring us, supporting us, believing in us, and, at times, putting up with us. We couldn’t have done it without you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.