Nearly 6,300 students were honored for their completion of higher degrees at the university April commencement and convocation ceremonies.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told graduates he was counting on them to be the light in a world plagued by poverty, violence, political corruption and sexual abuse.
“Go out there and light a candle, be a ray of light, be your best self and let your character shine,” Elder Holland said. “Cherish the gospel of Jesus Christ and live it. The world needs you and surely your Father in Heaven needs you if his blessed purposes for his children are to prevail. You have entered to learn; now go forth to serve and strengthen.”
BYU President Kevin J Worthen similarly encouraged the graduates to avoid the physical and spiritual pitfalls that often accompany the choice to seek after pride and riches.
Worthen compared the Brigham Young Academy graduating class of 1899 to the group of students sitting before him. The 1899 commencement ceremony featured the handiwork of the students from needlework and drawing to hardwood desks and bookcases. In 2018, student contributions include work on neonatal ventilators, NASA solar arrays and the search for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the 1899 graduates, Annie Pike, composed a song for graduation known today as "The College Song." Pike’s lyrics warn against the pursuit of pride and riches and also offer an antidote to avoid the temptation: “The head, the heart, the hand united must be true.”
Worthen reminded students to remember Pike’s antidote and the university’s Aims of a BYU Education in their pursuit of success.
“Our goal is to provide an education that aligns our hearts, our heads and our hands in order to make the lives of others better,” said Worthen.
Former Governor of Utah Mike Leavitt received an honorary doctorate of public service and shared three life lessons with the graduates:
- Humor and humility are more endearing than hubris.
- The Economics of Goodness (hard work, honesty and personal discipline) make a difference in success and happiness.
- We get our self-esteem from those we serve.
“Go humbly to serve, work hard, be honest and reliable,” Leavitt said. “Success will be yours.”
Undergraduate student speaker Jared Blanchard spoke to his fellow graduates about the importance of being mentally present despite digital distractions.
Blanchard shared advice he received from Rosalind Hall, who directs the BYU Men’s Chorus.
“‘Sing, when it is time to sing’ was one of her mantras,” Blanchard recounted. “She emphasized that the only way to be excellent is to be focused on what you are currently doing, leaving all distractions behind.”