Go Forth to Serve
Commencement Address given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
April 10, 2010
Professors, guests, family, and fellow graduates, aloha. What a week! Tests, presentations, last minute papers, and the Testing Center, oh how I will miss the Testing Center. All your hopes and dreams hinge on what that little LCD screen says. You pray that you never get the dreaded low score accompanied with, "See Your Professor." That just puts a damper on your week. Not even ice cream at Angel's will fix that. But when I see a passing grade with an "Exceptional" or "Great Job" next to my ID number, that just pumps me up and I am off running home to brag to my wife. Great BYU-Hawaii memories.
It has been a magnificent, magical week. I thank my beautiful wife, Tara, for all she does for our family. We have been blessed with the birth of our first child, Reese Holladay, on April 5. I am already that dad who wants to brag about his little girl and show her off. Since she's only five days old, I thought I would bring her with me today to show her off. I love you, Tara. You are my best friend.
I would like to thank my parents, for all the many lessons they have taught me. They have taught me that hard work, persistence, and plenty of prayer will bring joy, happiness, and the ability to overcome any obstacles that come my way. I love you, mom and dad, as I know all of the students are grateful for their parents and spouses.
I would also like to thank my professors. I am grateful for you and the diligence that you put forth in serving. As a representative of the graduating class, I would like to thank each of you for helping us all get here today. You make this university special, so thank you.
My fellow graduates, I now would like to thank each of you. I feel humbled to speak to you this day. I look up to and admire so many of you. I love this school because of you.
Over the weeks leading up to today, I have been recounting why I chose to enter this school. At first, the easy answers came to mind: to play basketball (Who wouldn't want to play with Lucas Alves?), to receive a diploma, and to live minutes from the beach. Yes, that sounds about right.
When I arrived, I met a remarkable man, Toa Sailusi, who changed my outlook about this institution. This student's zeal for life was contagious. He always had an extracurricular project going on, he was always helping someone, and I don't believe he ever slept. Through our friendship, I learned why he was here. His aspiration is to bring change to his native island of Tuvalu to further open the door for the gospel to be preached to his fellow men.
I desired to hear more stories like Toa's, so I went about asking fellow students. Some of the responses were:
"To become a community leader in my hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia."
"To become financially independent so I can provide for my family and be ready to serve in building the kingdom."
"To build a non-profit community center and make a difference in the lives of youth."
I have come to understand that Heavenly Father has built this institution for greater purposes than just living by the beach or getting a diploma. Each of us has passions. Each of us has skills. The Lord has blessed us with these traits and talents. We now have the foundation on which to build our dreams. Each of us has sacrificed to get to this point. The majority of us have left our families and traveled across the globe to get here, to experience a new culture, a new environment, and even a new language.
I have again learned to appreciate the grace of the Lord. As I've had to confront the challenges of college, I have found that if I am humble, the Lord will aid me in developing my weaknesses into strengths (see Ether 12:27).
A prophet of God has dedicated this land, and declared this school is going to produce "From this school ... will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally" (Excerpts from President David O. McKay's Church College of Hawaii/ BYU-Hawaii dedication). We all have heard this dozens of times. The prophecy is already being fulfilled.
We all have a story of why we came to this University. Each of us has sacrificed to get to this graduation day. Each of us has a "desire to serve."
I pray that we each can commit to going forth and turning these desires into realities. The Lord wants to help us fulfill our dreams; let us never lose sight of that.
I share these thoughts with you, humbly in the name of my Savior, my example Jesus Christ, amen.