The Spirit of BYU–Hawaii
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
April 12, 2014
Larissa Natalie Suwanto
My dear brothers and sisters, aloha!
The word "aloha" is probably the best word to describe the spirit of BYU–Hawaii because there’s so much meaning behind the word. It can mean hello, love, cheers, excitement, greetings, and much more. I love the word aloha, and I will definitely miss it once I get home.
Brothers and sisters, I feel honored to speak during the graduation commencement ceremony today. Before I begin my talk, let me introduce myself. My name is Larissa Natalie Suwanto. I go by Larissa, and I'm from Jakarta, Indonesia. Do you know where Indonesia is? I hope so. Well, Indonesia is a country in South East Asia. It’s the most populated Muslim country in the world, but we are blessed with the gospel there. Though the Church is small, it’s growing.
Today, I’m very happy to be officially done with school after studying hard for about three years. I have been studying piano performance at BYU–Hawaii for ten semesters, and yes, it's been a long journey, yet it's definitely worth it. I really enjoyed my time studying music at this university. I never regretted choosing music as my chosen field, and that’s why I decided to stay here from the day I came until the day I graduated. The support from my teachers and professors is part of the reason why I can be here today. To be honest, this is my first time being far away from home for three and a half years; I haven’t been home since 2011, just like many of you. I’ve had great experiences studying and living in this wonderful community, but at the same time, I’ve been through some tough and challenging life experiences. When I compare myself back to how I was three years ago, I feel much bigger now: bigger in knowledge, confidence, spirituality, and maybe a little more in weight. One thing that keeps me going through my education in this school is the spirit of BYU–Hawaii.
This campus is such a special place. What makes BYU–Hawaii special is the people who are part of the BYU–Hawaii Ohana (family). They are so friendly, easy going, encouraging, and also very positive. BYU–Hawaii exists because of revelation from God through his prophet David O. McKay. We are here at this time to fulfill the prophecy of President Mckay, who said that this school would produce “noble men [and women] who cannot be bought or sold, … who will scorn to violate truth, genuine gold." McKay continues, "More than that, they will be leaders. Not leaders only in this island, but everywhere." We all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but we are one in this place. Together we learn and grow to be the noble men and women who can be examples to the world. That's what we should become as we get our education at BYU–Hawaii.
Our future is ahead of us now, and we still have a long way to make more of our dreams come true. I hope that we always remember to keep the aloha spirit that we have today because the Spirit is what makes us keep going towards a brighter future. We will never know what’s going to happen next in our life, but no matter what will happen, remember to always choose to be happy. I remember a talk given by President Monson, when he said, “Find joy in the journey—now” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” General Conference, October 2008). My friends, if you have the Spirit, you will surely be happy as you go through your journey and again choose to be happy. If the people around us can't bring the Spirit, let us be the light and the joy for them, so we can make a better place for a better world.
The last thing I would like to say is thank you to all the teachers and professors on this campus. Thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for us. Your knowledge, love, and support will always remain in our hearts.
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to study at this university, where I have learned and grown to be a better person. I’m also grateful for the I-WORK program that helps a lot of international students, including myself, be able to attend this university. I believe that we are here studying at the university not because of coincidence but because we have a purpose to study here: “Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.” I’m thankful for so many blessings I have received in my life, and I know that all the blessings come from Heavenly Father. Through faith, hope, and constant prayer, all things are possible.
Brothers and sisters, I pray for our success in life and career after leaving BYU–Hawaii. Good luck to all of us. May we always stay strong in the gospel, and endure till the end. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.