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At this week's Devotional, Advancement Vice President Matthew O. Richardson shared his wife's daily words of encouragement to their children, as well as his own personal experiences as a student, professor and administrator at BYU, to help students find meaningful success and peace while at BYU and in their lives after graduation.

"I would like to focus on the first part of my wife’s simple but profound instruction [to our kids] – to stand up straight and smile, and remember who you are," Richardson said. "I hope to especially focus on how my experience at BYU has impacted my ability to stand up straight, influenced why I smile, and greatly molded who I have become."

Richardson shared four specific mementos from his BYU experience to help him in his quest to live up to his wife's words.

Memento #1: A Failed Chemistry Test

After explaining how he felt when he received a score of 24% on a Chemistry 105 test at BYU, Richardson offered some poignant counsel.

"I occasionally look at this exam and remember that failure is not fatal and that it’s the courage to continue that counts,” said Richardson. "I remember that every storm will eventually break if you just hold on long enough.  I remember that learning is a process and not an event and that I could do difficult things even when it takes more time than I have and additional strength and effort."

Aislynn Edwards, BYU Photo

Memento #2: Half of a Master's Degree

Richardson's next memento came from his graduate studies at BYU several years later. To celebrate Richardson receiving his Master's degree, his family threw him party. Before heading out to the party, he explained that he went to his workbench, cut his degree in two and gave one half to his wife.

His wife was quite surprised, but Richardson explained that he believed this degree was just as much hers as it was his.

"I always want to remember that everything worthwhile comes with the help of others," said Richardson. "Life is a collaborative endeavor and that success – genuine success – it attributable to a lot more people than just you. So please ask for help. Look for support. Seek for those who will cheer you on, support you, celebrate with you and push you to be more than you are at the moment."

Photo Credit: 
Aislynn Edwards, BYU Photo

Memento #3: BYU's Foundational Documents

Richardson recounted the story of BYU student Alfred Kelly's 1915 vision of a campus filled with light and knowledge which is included in BYU's Foundational Documents. Kelly's vision ultimately inspired the donations needed to save the university from selling the land campus is now located on.

"Every time I read BYU’s foundational documents, I am reminded that this place is a place of revelation and vision," said Richardson. "I remember that the young and the old must continue to seek enlightenment, seek revelation and dream dreams for their own future and the future of this university. They will seek the Lord’s help in determining their course of study, defining their careers and even finding a spouse."

Memento #4: A Screensaver with the words "You Gotta Believe"

Richardson concluded with his final memento describing timely, personal and inspired counsel given during his senior year from then president of BYU, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. 

“Matt, part of your problem is that you don’t believe. You just believe that God will work his mighty miracles for everyone but you," said Richardson, quoting President Holland. “You gotta believe, Matt. You gotta believe.” 

Because of this experience with Elder Holland, "You Gotta Believe" has been Richardson's screensaver on every computer for the last 29 years.

Next Devotional: Brother Tad R. Callister, General Sunday School President

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Brother Tad R. Callister, General Sunday School President, on Tuesday, Nov 1, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.

His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYU Radio.