Nearly 7,000 students were honored for their completion of higher degrees at the university April commencement and convocation ceremonies.
Elder Patrick Kearon, General Authority Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to graduates about the joyful road of discipleship and repentance.
He shared memories of his father, including his father’s favorite song “What a Wonderful World.” The song represents an outlook of joy and kindness, which helped Kearon to understand his role on the road of discipleship.
“Your Father, your Heavenly Father, will do anything for you. He wants nothing but your eternal happiness and success. He is providing you with a learning experience so much richer than the one for which you are being honored today. You are being prepared for life—eternal life and exaltation,” said Elder Kearon.
“Through all that life may bring, trust and have faith in Jesus Christ’s redeeming power and relish the path of discipleship in this wonderful world.”
BYU President Kevin J Worthen spoke about the history of Y Mountain and shared lessons he hoped graduates could learn from its symbol. The symbol was created out of a class rivalry. The original plan was to put “BYU” on the mountain, but erecting the “Y” proved to be so difficult that the rest of the project was abandoned.
President Worthen said that symbols like the Y have meaning in our lives because of what we choose to make of them. The BYU community has chosen to embrace the Y as a spirit of character and service, not reject it as a failure for missing the “B” and the “U.”
Likewise, the meaning of events in our lives are dependent on how we choose to view and respond to them. If we have an eternal perspective, we will have joy and strength to meet the challenges in our lives. When we feel like we have failed, we can trust God’s remarkable promise that He can make all things (even an incomplete BYU monument on a mountain) work together for the good of those who love Him.
“As you look at the Y on the mountain, I hope you see hope, optimism and faith in the future. I congratulate you on your achievement and pray you will be uplifted by the positive spirit of the Y in all your endeavors.”
Arthur C. Brooks accepted an honorary doctorate of public service during the commencement ceremony. He also spoke of the spirit of BYU, sharing how it creates love and kindness that can counteract the contempt in our world. The world needs the kind of love students learn while at BYU, he said.
In a chapel he works at, there is a sign on the exit that reads “You are now entering mission territory.” That message, he said, applies to the graduates exiting BYU.
“You are here because you have found what is good and true. But you’re going to go out where people haven’t yet found what you’ve discovered. You have the privilege of sharing it, with joy and confidence,” he said. “Don’t forget: you are now re-entering mission territory.”
Undergraduate speaker David Kastner shared lessons graduates can learn from the work of Leonardo da Vinci. da Vinci, said Kastner, disregarded the distinction between disciplines. Embracing both art and science elevated his work, making him the quintessential renaissance man.
“Today we are faced with an entirely new set of problems that require a new generation of renaissance men and women,” said Kastner. “We will be the ones to create connections where there were once disconnects, build bridges where there were once chasms and find understanding where there was once confusion.”
President of the BYU Alumni Association, Johnathan Hafen, also talked about the importance of connection. From a professor at BYU, he learned that “sticks in a bundle are unbreakable,” which taught him about the importance and strength of our connections with others. As we connect with others, our power to do good in the world is exponentially increased, he said.
“God is cheering you on,” concluded Elder Kearon. “Now you must go and help make this a more wonderful world for all of God’s children.”