Student Address to Graduates
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 13, 2014
Good morning and aloha!
I am honored and incredibly humbled to speak to you all today. On behalf of the graduating class of Fall 2014, I would like to begin by thanking all of the family, friends, faculty, the administration, and all of our church and school leaders for helping us achieve this goal. You have helped us financially and spiritually, you have given us support and guidance, and you have helped shape us into who we are today.
Many of you are familiar with the BYU–Hawaii motto: Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve. As new students, we entered to learn and, of course, to go to the beach. At the time, we probably didn’t fully comprehend the blessing we had been given. Out of numerous applicants, we were given the opportunity of a lifetime to attend this unique university.
We had the chance to study not only in 25 different majors but in a culturally diverse environment. We lived blocks from the temple and were privileged to live in the Laie community. Now, we have become educated in our fields of study, we have learned how to better communicate with others, and we have learned how to be leaders. Most important of all, we have been given the tools to become better followers of Christ. During our time here, we have gained both secular and spiritual knowledge.
As soon to be graduates, it is now our mission to go forth and serve. We have all had the opportunity to serve while attending this university; whether it was accepting a calling in your ward or helping a fellow student or coworker, but the most meaningful service can be seen in unselfish, everyday acts of kindness.
Seek to find joy in serving others if you do not already. Strive to serve with charity by being patient, compassionate, and understanding. Joseph F. Smith said, “Charity, or love, is the greatest principle in existence. If we can lend a helping hand to the oppressed, if we can aid those who are despondent and in sorrow, if we can uplift … the condition of mankind, it is our mission to do it, it is an essential part of our religion to do it.”
Strive to be an instrument in God’s hands. Just as there are many instruments in an orchestra, we have all been blessed with different talents and abilities. Use these gifts as you see fit to serve the Lord and His children. As Spencer W. Kimball taught, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” We have all entered to learn. I now challenge each of you to go forth, with the pure love of Christ, to serve.
As this chapter of our lives comes to an end, we find ourselves relieved, excited, anxious, and, if you’re anything like me, completely terrified. While change can be uncomfortable, there is great satisfaction in knowing you are off to experience new things and make new memories. Marvin J. Ashton said, “As opportunity for change reaches into our lives, as it always will, we must ask, ‘Where do I need development? What do I want out of life? Where do I want to go? How can I get there?’ Just as a compass is valuable to guide us out of the dense forest, so the gospel points the way as we walk the paths of life.” As you ask yourself these questions, seek to understand the Lord’s will for you.
I’d like to leave you with a scripture found in Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Congratulations, class of Fall 2014! Good luck to you all in your future endeavors. May the Lord bless us all with an eternal perspective and faith in His plan for each of us.
I leave you with these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.