Dubbing himself as a “quasi-member” of the class of 2014, President Cecil O. Samuelson greeted graduates, faculty and their supporters while congratulating them for their good work during commencement exercises held in the Marriott Center on Thursday afternoon.
After 11 years as the president of Brigham Young University — in addition to serving as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1994-2011 — President Samuelson has been involved in a total of 23 commencement exercises for the university.
“For Sharon and me, this is a special commencement because it marks not only a change in our ongoing personal activities but also for Brigham Young University,” President Samuelson said. “BYU faces a very bright future with the leadership of President Kevin Worthen.”
This year’s graduating class includes a total of 5,800 graduates — 4,928 bachelor's degrees, 690 master's degree and 182 doctorate degrees. Among the graduating class are men and women from 49 U.S. states, six territories and 62 foreign countries.
Recognizing that no two graduates have had the same experience while at BYU, President Samuelson told the capacity crowd to remember the saying, “where much is given, much is required.”
“We all want to do good — and if possible, even great things — but the details vary so broadly,” he said. “I would submit, however, in the differences of our interests, aptitudes, talents, opportunities and choices, there are some commonalities that we should consider and take seriously.”
He encouraged the grads to keep the commandments — not to put them on hold until they finish graduate school, land their dream job and acquire a home or anything else that is so proximately important.
“What is required of each of us is that we continue to keep the commandments even with all else that we are doing. We have all learned much at BYU but none of us knows everything. Thus, it behooves us to listen to and trust the Spirit of the Lord, which will guide and help us in our quests to keep the commandments, do all that our great blessings require that we do and faithfully endure to the end.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared a few remarks during commencement exercises. After expressing gratitude to the Samuelsons, describing them as “a wonderful team who are teachers and leaders,” he invited all in attendance to stand and thank the Samuelsons through applause.
During the keynote address, Elder Craig A. Cardon, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged graduates to continue their educations with “study and faith.”
“Reading, conferring and writing all serve to exercise the mind, quicken the intellect and discipline our expression, eliciting our very best,” he said. “But unless reading, conferring and writing have an essential spiritual element, they fall woefully short in pursuing the highest education available to us.”
Elder Cardon spoke of the importance of both gaining knowledge and ensuring that the knowledge gained is founded in truth and applied in a way consistent with the counsel of God.
Using the scriptural phrase “and thus we see,” a phrase unique to the Book of Mormon, Elder Cardon spoke of how important spiritual elements are in learning and teaching, adding that “this simple formula of exercising faith and the operation of the Spirit is the means to resolve hatred and contentions among today's families, nations and peoples."
Other speakers included Terry Seamons, president of the BYU Alumni Association, and Megan Hirschi, a graduate. The Brigham Young University Trumpet Ensemble, including Tyler Tryon, Logan Anderson, Isaac Healey, Austin Benesh, Kris Anderson and Dominik Campora, performed "Durrenhorn Passage" by Kevin McKee, under the direction of David Brown.