Making the Most of Your Educational Experience & Setting Goals for the Future

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Bode & Beth UaleDevotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

March 16, 2006
Bode & Beth Uale
Honolulu District Family Judge
2004 Mother of the Year

Beth Uale: Making the Most of Your Educational Experience

Brothers and Sisters, aloha!

When I was a freshman here at BYU-Hawaii, young and just out of high school, my primary goal was to get my MRS. degree. Once I accomplished that, I felt that I was done with my education. It wasn't until a few years later when some of my friends started graduating from college that I realized that getting a degree was something I could have done, but I never made it a priority. By then I had two children and I felt that it would be almost impossible to finish college. Yet I kept contemplating that with three years worth of courses behind me, maybe it wouldn't be too difficult to get the last year of schooling done so that I could graduate. It was at that point in my life that I began the long journey of raising a family while pursuing my education. My educational journey has taken a total of 14 years...so far.

I'm sure you're wondering, "14 years?" Well, various contributing factors made it a total of seven years to obtain my bachelors degree. One of the main reasons it took so long was that I was only a part time student for the last four of those seven years.

I began teaching school after my youngest child entered kindergarten. When I applied for my first job the principal asked for my educational background and I proudly replied "I have my bachelor's degree." He said, "Is that all?" I thought to myself, is that all! IS THAT All! Do you have any idea how hard that was for me to do? How many years of sacrifice? How many long drives to Laie? How many late nights of study? What do you mean is that all! Luckily, I was hired but I was placed at the bottom of the pay scale. That interview inspired me to continue my education. So a few years later, I started graduate school which lasted another seven years.

Throughout the many years of schooling I have learned that there are certain things that will help to make the journey more efficient and more effective. I'd like to offer a few suggestions that I hope will assist you in accomplishing your educational goals.

ROADBLOCKS TO AVOID IN ORDER TO REACH YOUR EDUCATIONAL GOALS

1) DON'T SET A GOAL

By not setting a goal it can cause years of anxiety as you spin your wheels trying to figure things out. Try to set definite goals for your education at least by the end of your freshman year. Without a definite goal, you'll miss all the prerequisite classes that lead you to the next course.

2) PARTY-ON YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR

Freshman, be careful not to spend so much time enjoying your new found freedom from home that you waste away your freshman year and end up with no credits after 8 months. The loss of one year will come back to haunt you later.

3) SETTLE FOR A TEMPORARY JOB

Some people after taking a few courses feel that if they can get a decent job, it will be sufficient to last them the rest of their lives, so they don't really need a degree. Will that decision really help you to reach your potential? How many more opportunities will be available to you if you finish school?

4) DECIDE THAT RAISING A FAMILY AND GOING TO SCHOOL IS TOO HARD

Of course juggling the responsibilities of raising a family and managing your education is hard, but it's not impossible. There are options available. While in Provo, I took advantage of the BYU independent study courses while taking a few classes on campus. More and more on-line classes are offered for your convenience. Take the time to search out opportunities that will allow you to spend some time with your family. You should also consider how much your children will value education if you did not set the example for them.

5) TAKE AN EXTENDED BREAK

Once on an extended vacation, it's super hard to get back into it, so avoid long breaks from school.

6) CHANGE YOUR MAJOR ANNUALLY

When it seems like things get too intense with your classes many students look for greener pastures. If your chosen major is what you've always wanted to do, just know that some classes may be grueling but you'll get through it. Nearly every subject will have intense courses toward the end. Work closely with your counselor and stay on track with your requirements.

7) DON'T SERVE THE LORD UNTIL YOU'RE DONE

This is the most important point I'd like to make. Too many people feel that they can't serve the Lord because they are too busy. They say that they'll serve in the church later and give even more energy when the time is right. I know that keeping the Lord as an integral part of the process is what helped us to survive. When we were a young married couple our Bishop asked to give to the ward building fund, we knew that helping the Lord would bring blessing so we said yes. When my husband was called as the 1st counselor in the Young Men's presidency and I was called to be the Young Women's president with two small children and a full load of classes, we turned to the Lord for help and he helped us every step of the way and we grew as a result of serving the youth. Don't ever put the Lord second in your life and you will always feel comfortable turning to Him when you need Him.

When we were struggling as students and living in a micro-mini apartment in Makiki, our Relief Society President brought us a Thanksgiving basket of goodies. We felt bad accepting it because we didn't really feel that we were in need compared to other families, but we appreciated the love and the fellowship of our ward members as we ate the delicious food that was given to us for our Thanksgiving meal. We knew that the Lord was watching over us.

Students of this beautiful BYU-Hawaii campus, know that this is one of the few universities that is owned and operated by the church. How blessed you are to be here to walk the path that leads to your future. What a great privilege it is for you attend a school in a spiritual, a positive and an uplifting environment. Take advantage of the opportunities you have to meet people, to learn and to grow during the time you spend here at BYU-Hawaii.

Through our knowledge of the gospel, we know that everything we learn on this earth CAN be taken with us to the next life. In fact as a music teacher and a choral director I'm even doubly blessed because I believe I will have some job opportunities available for me in the next life. I believe that the Lord has a plan for each one of us and I pray that each one of you will find the direction that He would have you go. I am grateful for my testimony of the gospel and of the many blessings my Father in Heaven has given to me and to my family. I know the Savior lives and loves each and every one of us and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Bode Uale: Setting Goals for the Future

Aloha, brothers and sisters! It's a pleasure to be on campus again. I am grateful to be with my good wife today. We're pretty busy people so it's not often that we find ourselves together during the morning hours. We are both grateful to have attended and graduated from this great institution of learning. We have many fond memories of attending BYU-Hawaii. We met and courted here and eventually married. I'm sure many of you who are within the sound of my voice know how this formula works as you are either married or contemplating marriage or at least heading in that direction. This year in May, we will be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary. We are proud parents of four (4) children, three (3) whom have served missions and returned. Our youngest son, Travis, leaves for the MTC at the end of this month headed to Mexico. We have been truly blessed of the Lord as He has provided many blessings and opportunities for our family.

I am a Laie boy! I guess I better be careful as I understand that term "Laie" boy may have a different connotation today than the original meaning. To me, it means that I come from one of the older families of this community. It means that my grandparents and parents toiled here and helped to build the PCC as well as CCH, now BYUH. It means that I grew up here in the "old" days when you learned to swim at "beauty" hole and helped out at the "Hukilau" to earn money for the ward budget. I do mean ward because there was a time when there was only one ward of the Church in Laie. I was a member of the 4H club and raised cows and pigs in the hills behind the old Laie cemetery. Everybody knew everyone in the community and you didn't have to lock your doors at night. Well, things have changed quite a bit since then and here we are today. Laie has certainly changed and so have I. How did we get here? Things do not happen without a reason. The Samoans have a proverb that says, "E le falala fua le niu, ae falala ona ole matagi." This means that when you look up and see the leaves of the coconut tree swaying up high even though there is no wind or breeze blowing where you are standing, surely you know that the reason the leaves are swaying is that there is a breeze blowing them. This is to mean that things happen for a good purpose. Well, that leads to the topic we have chosen to speak on today: "Setting Goals for the Future" or securing future success through good planning and preparation.

I'm assuming that all of you here today got here by setting goals for yourselves. Those of you who are administrators and faculty did that when you were young students and deciding on a career. But my comments will be directed to you who are current students here at BYU-Hawaii. How did you get here? I know that you come from many different countries and places. Your families have probably made sacrifices for you to be here. Something you did and planned has brought you here to study and learn. So you have accomplished quite a bit already by just being here at BYU-Hawaii. So, now it's up to you to make your plan for the future.

First things first, strive to live a balanced life. You know that it cannot be all about academics. You must strike the balance with spiritual endeavors. So, get involved and stay involved with your campus ward. Serve well in your calling. If you don't have one, then ask your Bishop to give you a job in the church. It doesn't matter what you calling is, do it well. You will be blessed. And you know that you need Heavenly Father's blessings. If you are a returned missionary, then strive to strengthen your brothers and sisters. Continue to be a good example and keep those covenants that you have made with the Lord. Utilize those talents and skills you learned in the mission field to help in building the Kingdom. If you are a young man of age and have not served a mission, then what's keeping you? There are so many blessings in store for you just waiting to be given. Go see your bishop, he can help you prepare and go. The Lord needs you! If you are a sister and have desires to serve, same counsel see your bishop. For me, serving a mission for the Lord was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Of course, my parents and entire family were very supportive and loving while I served. I also received an education on life and service that you cannot get any where else. I learned to love the people I served and I also learned how to lead in the Church. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to serve a mission and the many lessons learned. Now for those of you who have accomplished your goal to serve a mission and have now returned home. Now is the time to get serious about finding that special son or daughter of God to share your life with. Towards the end of last year, we received wonderful counsel from our leaders to all of our young people regarding this issue. Once you return from your mission, no more group dates or just hanging out. This is the time to pair off and date so that you can evaluate. Remember that it is not good for man or woman to be alone. So my good brothers and sisters, do not delay marriage.

Our leaders have counseled us not to delay marriage until after finishing our education. Marriage in fact is good for you as a student. It really helps you to get focused on your education and your future. You don't have to worry about dating anymore. No excuse for not being able to get good grades. It's all about finishing school and getting on with family and career. That is exactly how marriage affected me. I became a better student and there were way less distractions.

So, the next step is finish school. You don't want to be a professional student. My father always told me that I should be a man in a hurry to finish my education and get on with my life's work. While you are finishing your education, you need to already have a plan developed for what you are going to do with your degree. It is a matter to be prayerfully considered and a joint decision if you are married. Once you make the plan, you need to stick with it. When we got married, our plan was that I would work a year after graduating from BYU-Hawaii and then go to law school. As I was ending my year off from school, I told my wife that maybe I should just continue to work as it seemed that I was making pretty good money. I will forever be grateful to my wife for encouraging me to stick with our original plan and not delay going to law school. It was probably the most important family decision we made.

Finally, you have graduated and have found your life's work. You are well on your way to success and happiness. Don't forget the Lord and how he helped you to get there. Again, lead a balanced life by continuing to serve and be active in church. Be a good neighbor and serve in your community. People will gravitate to you and want to follow your example. Most importantly, your children will be watching you and they too will want to follow your example.

So, let me recap for you some suggestions I've made to you today:

1. Lead a balanced life, balance academics and spiritual life by serving well and staying active in the church.

2. Returned missionaries continue to lead and serve in the church, keeping covenants and building the Kingdom.

3. Serve a mission if you are of age, blessings are in store and you'll come back better prepared for school.

4. Don't delay marriage, it's part of the Lord's plan and it'll make you a better student.

5. Prayerfully make a plan for your life's work and stick with it.

6. Now that you've made it, remember the Lord. Lead a balanced life and be a good example for all, but especially for your children. Continue to serve in the church and the community.

The things I've share with you has helped me become the person who I am today. These are suggestions that I know can help you to be successful. Planning for the future and then sticking to that plan will help you to achieve your greatest potential. I know that the "Glory of God is intelligence". The Lord has blessed us with this great and wonderful university to help us to be able to do our life's work and to support our families. Attending BYU-Hawaii has also helped strengthen me to be a better member and leader of the Church. It is not by accident that you are here. You have a great purpose to fulfill and I pray that you will rise to the challenge and be that person the Lord intended you to be.

I testify to you that I know that God lives and Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God who helped to restore the Gospel to the earth to bless and benefit each and everyone of us. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that this is the Lord's University and that inspired men of God lead and guide the affairs of this school today. I am grateful for this opportunity that we have had to come back to BYUH and speak to you all today. I testify to you of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.