Learning and Glory

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Abi GuzmanJune 2008 Commencement Address Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

June 21, 2008
Abigail Guzman
Student Speaker

Brethren and Sisters Aloha.

Before I came to Brigham Young University-Hawaii as a transfer student, I was at law school in New Zealand. Over the past few months my old friends and classmates who continued with law have been sending news and pictures of their graduation ceremonies at the High Court. I recently received an email from one particular friend who I had several classes with and as I looked at the photos of him decked out in his legal regalia, the thought crossed my mind "that could have been me." Had I stayed in New Zealand and continued with law, I would have been there at the High Court, instead of here in the CAC with all of you. I was on the verge of feeling wistful at those opportunities that it appeared I had missed out on, when I looked down at my two month old daughter sleeping in my arms and was struck with the realization that there is nowhere in the world that I would rather be at this moment. I feel very honored and privileged to be standing among you, my fellow graduates, today.

I came to BYU Hawaii two and a half years ago as a nervous and homesick transfer student and I leave today not only as a college graduate, but also as the wife of a wonderful man, my eternal companion Roberto, and the mother of my beautiful baby girl, Arieli. I felt inspired to leave law school and come here to Hawaii and I will be eternally grateful that I listened to those promptings.

President N. Eldon Tanner, counselor to four presidents of the church, stated that "nothing will bring greater joy and success than to live according to the teachings of the gospel."1 I testify that this is absolutely true. The words of a popular primary song proclaim a similar message: "keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace." If we are to be the force for good and the influence for peace internationally that was foretold by President David O. McKay more than 50 years ago, then we must base our lives on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can be a much-needed influence for good if we are living in the manner that the Lord has directed.

As we take our first steps out into the world as alumni of this prestigious institution, we will be faced with challenges. For many of us, the next stage of life will be filled with uncertainty. I anticipate difficulties and obstacles, because that is a natural part of life. But I take comfort in the fact that I have had so much preparation, and education, through my attendance at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Each of us should feel reassured by the quality education that we have received here. It combines the academic with the spiritual.

In our time at this school, we have been consistently encouraged to "seek learning, even by study and also by faith."2 Our quest for learning and understanding should not cease with graduation, but should be something we pursue throughout the rest of our lives. Our efforts to continue learning will be most effective when we place the Savior at the center of our lives. Doctrine and Covenants section 88 verse 67 reads "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." As we combine continued learning with the development of testimony, we will gain understanding, knowledge, and the strength necessary to rise above any trials that come into our lives. Beyond that, we will have the strength needed to reach out and lift others also, thus fulfilling the prophetic mission of our school to "go forth and serve". I am grateful for the opportunity

I have had to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. I'm grateful that the Lord saw fit to let me know that this is where I was to come, and then blessed me with a quality education, a spiritual foundation, and my very own eternal family. I have already started my full-time post-graduate employment as a stay-at-home wife and mother. While this is not a typical job for a recent graduate in today's world, I can't think of a better use for my fine education than to apply it as I love and serve my family. In my own simple way I am determined to do my part to be an influence for the establishment of peace internationally, and what better place to begin than within my own home.

The world we live in can be a difficult and frightening place. We must decide now to stand firm and steadfast among the distractions, temptations, and confusion. With the fine education that each of us has received here, we are now equipped with the skills to go out into the world and strengthen our families and communities. And, with the testimonies that we have developed in our time at BYU-Hawaii, we can let our light shine to help others find their way in the darkness.

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and I am so grateful for the joy it brings to my life. May Heavenly Father's choicest blessings be upon each of us as we go forth from this special place. May we live, love, learn, and serve is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

1. "For They Loved the Praise of Men More Than the Praise of God" Ensign, Nov. 1975, 74.

2. Doctrine and Covenants 88:118