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August 2018 Commencement speakers: Look beyond yourself, find joy in service

During Thursday's August Commencement Ceremony, Elder Brent H. Nielson, General Authority Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared with students advice he wished he had heard at the time of his BYU graduation.

“My advice to you, as well as to myself forty years ago, is to look beyond yourself. This is the key to becoming like Christ. Don’t have yourself, your accomplishments or your fears as your treasure; rather, focus on others and their needs.”

He encouraged students to carefully focus on the condition of their hearts and consider whether their time at BYU had led their hearts closer to Christ.

BYU President Kevin J Worthen also encouraged graduates to focus their efforts on serving others.

Worthen shared how BYU adopted the slogan “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.” The original sign was erected in 1965, and the slogan was submitted by BYU history professor Stewart Grow, who believed that there was no better way to expand joy than by creating a world in which everyone was motivated to learn and serve each other.

“From the outset of its existence at BYU, the injunction to ‘enter to learn; go forth to serve’ has reflected a profound truth: there is a connection between joy and service,” said Worthen. “Service is not just connected to joy in some amorphous, general way; it is an essential part of the refining process that makes true joy possible.”

“I hope you will go forth to serve for the rest of your lives, understanding that in our Church we believe in really long lives – even eternal lives,” Worthen encouraged students.

Student commencement speaker Ashton Omdahl shared three truths he learned during his BYU experience:

  • From St. Augustine’s faith in Christ, he learned “that fearlessly facing truth about ourselves has the potential to transform our hearts, from sinner to saint.”
  • From biologist Alfred Wallace’s theory of natural selection—which Wallace realized when he was about to die—Omdahl learned “that facing the truth, even if very difficult, can expand our secular knowledge.”
  • From his own experience learning about privilege, he learned “that fully facing the inconvenient truth can change how we treat others and treat life in the most essential ways.”

“Your future is bright,” concluded Elder Nielson. “You entered BYU to learn. Today, as you graduate, go forth to serve.”

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