Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
25 February 2017
Graduates, faculty, family and friends: good morning and aloha.
Standing before you today, I feel like a short cow in tall grass: utterly tickled and a little bit nervous.
Graduates, isn't it incredible to be here right now? We made it. We are finally here at the end of our undergraduate journey and are stepping forward to begin another.
This morning I join my fellow graduates in saying thank you to our family, friends, and mentors who have helped and supported us through our university careers. Your tireless efforts have proven your love to us through your consistent guidance and care, and words cannot express how much we appreciate all you have done.
To our faculty, our most sincere gratitude for all that you have done for us over the years. During my career here at BYU-Hawaii, I have been consistently amazed by the personal devotion of our professors and how they have invested in us by inspiring and encouraging us to reach our individual goals. There is not a professor here with whom I have interacted who has not left me with a greater desire to improve and the courage to know that I can. For all of your diligent effort, I and the graduating class are eternally grateful.
The mission of Brigham Young University-Hawaii is “to integrate both spiritual and secular learning, and to prepare students with character and integrity who can provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen fields, and in building the kingdom of God.” The steps to achieve this mission throughout the rest of our lives can be seen every time we enter campus by the school motto. The motto states, “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” Well we have completed step 1. We have entered university and learned through a variety of challenging and enriching courses. However, now we must proceed to step 2: ..."go forth to serve."
Graduates, I look forward to seeing how you will use what you have learned here to go and serve in whatever capacity you may. I know that you all have unique talents and abilities which will enable you to contribute to your families, friends, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether you serve by going on a mission, getting married, attending graduate school, going into the military, raising your children, or working to support your family, you will find that the knowledge you have gained in your experiences and studies at BYU-Hawaii have prepared you to stand strong and build wherever you may be.
In the past, I viewed university graduation as some glorious and magnificent end to years of tedious studying. However, as I have now approached graduation with all of you, I have realized that this is not merely the end of an era, but, not to be too cliché, the beginning of the rest of our lives. As Elder Bednar stated in his 2010 talk “Learning to Love Learning,” quote, “Academic assignments, test scores, and a cumulative GPA do not produce a final and polished product. Rather, students have only started to put in place a foundation of learning upon which they can build forever.”
It is my hope and prayer that each of you will take it into your hearts to personally find ways in which you can continue to learn, and build both those around you and the gospel of Jesus Christ with the knowledge you have gained at this university. We must boldly ask the Lord to use us in His work. Undoubtedly, we will need to be willing to get our hands dirty in order to do what the Lord desires of us. But by practicing and reviewing the knowledge we have gained here at university, continuing to network with peers and professionals, and establishing and achieving goals with the Lord’s guidance, we will assuredly assert an incredible influence for good throughout the world.
In closing, I would like to offer encouragement to the graduating class to make plans for the future, but live in the present. Find and believe in the path that God has carved for each of us to succeed. Find joy in your life and the gospel, and let God be the stabilizing force in our careers and individual pursuits.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.