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  • During the last few months I have been able to meet some of you, and I have also been able to learn some things about you. Let me tell you some of the things that I have learned. You are hard workers. Besides attending classes in order to obtain a degree of your choice, many of you have jobs. Some of you are in the performing arts and do amazing things. Some of you are student athletes who succeed at the highest levels. Here I take special note of the women’s volleyball team, which for the first time in school history went to the Final Four and played for the national championship. Congratu
  • This is my first opportunity to address you in a devotional as president of the university. Let me begin by telling you, “You look really good.” That is different from being good-looking, though you are that as well. I hope that each of you has some inkling of the spirit you carry with you and the light that radiates from you. It is evident to visitors to the campus—who sometimes struggle to come up with words to describe what they see and feel in your presence. I thank each of you for your individual contribution to what is the real Spirit of the Y that those who come on campus experience so
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to this wonderful student body of Brigham Young University. I bring you the love of President Thomas S. Monson. He prays for you, and I hope you pray for him. My wife, Mary Anne, and I lived in Guatemala for five years. Elder Richard G. Scott visited while we were there, and together we toured the beautiful countries of El Salvador and Panama. On a Friday evening we had a devotional in Panama. We arrived at about 6:30 p.m., and the devotional was scheduled for 7 p.m. As we entered the building and walked down the corridor, I looked into one of t
  • Good morning. My thanks go to those who provided the music this morning. Their music has helped to bring the Spirit to this meeting. I would hope to speak by that Spirit today. My late friend Robert J. Matthews, who taught religion here at BYU, used to say, “If I speak by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, you will hear things better than I say them.” I pray that that can happen today. I thought it appropriate to begin with a little poem written by a young man that I think might illustrate what sometimes may happen in parents’ attempts to change the behavior of their children. He w
  • Every April the Area Seventies from throughout the world gather in Salt Lake City, along with the General Authorities and general auxiliary presidencies, for instruction from members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presidency of the Seventy. The instruction focuses on the most fundamental and most pressing issues of the Church—things like temple work, strengthening members, the Atonement, and hastening the work of salvation. It is a privilege to sit at the feet of these inspired leaders and to learn what is on their minds and in their hearts. Two years ago, in Apr
  • It is an honor to be asked to speak at this devotional. Our family has a real loyalty to Brigham Young University. My husband and I, our five children, and their spouses all graduated from BYU. As our grandchildren approach their college years, we hope they will carry on the BYU tradition. As I thought about speaking here today, I reflected back on the days when I attended BYU—a half century ago. That makes me sound so old! I came to BYU from a small high school; there were fewer than sixty of us in our graduating class. I hadn’t traveled much. Living on a farm meant there was always wor
  • There is an ancient temple in Greece, in some foothills near the ocean, that is dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Above the entrance of this temple, now referred to as the Oracle at Delphi, is the following well-known inscription: “Know thyself.” This simple yet profound invitation reflects an important step in our progression as human beings. Like many societies, the Greeks were concerned with existential questions, such as what it means to be human. Some of the best thinking on this subject is captured in what I argue is one of the more significant non-scriptural books in Western literat
  • I have to tell you how much I love working and living in a college town, where I get to know so many wonderful students. When our youngest, Rob, was about five, we were out shopping, and I bumped into a bunch of students, as frequently happens. It was great because he looked up at me kind of wide-eyed and said, “Mom, every place we go people know you. Are you famous?” Of course I said, “Yes.” I may not be famous, but I am blessed to work with so many fantastic colleagues and friends and to have so many great students; they inspire me in many ways. Many of my students are here today. My C
  • I feel honored and humbled to have received the assignment from the First Presidency to speak to you precious young people today. I hope that you have an appreciation of how much the prophet and the First Presidency care about you and love you. You are among “the noble and great.”1 [A man arrived] home from work to find a very small girl sitting on the curb in front of his house, crying. He asked if he could help. Through her sobs she explained that she was lost. He told her that this was his house and his wife was inside. He told her he knew she shouldn’t go with strangers, b
  • It is wonderful to be here with you today. I come from a family of migrant farm workers, and I learned many lessons laboring with my parents and grandparents in the fields, vineyards, and orchards of the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley has some of the richest soil in the world, and farmers report that 100 percent of the nation’s raisins,1 99 percent of its almonds,2 and 95 percent of its olives3 are produced there. My life changed forever when two young missionaries first visited our Central Valley home during the winter prior to my fourteen
  • As an anatomy and neuroscience teacher, I have the great privilege to study and teach about one of God’s greatest creations: the human body. I marvel every time I listen to a beating heart or watch an electrocardiogram measure a heart’s electrical activity. It is remarkable to me to watch skin slowly repair itself following a scratch or to think about where and how memories are stored in the brain. When I was a graduate student, one of my research projects was to study the proteins involved in cell division. I would often watch a set of recently fertilized frog eggs split from a single cell
  • This is a magnificent building constructed to further the study of the life sciences. The size and function of the building show how far BYU has come in this academic area. What is now the College of Life Sciences first became a separate college at BYU in 1954 with the formation of the College of Biological and Agricultural Sciences. The first dean of the college was Clarence Cottam, who served as dean for only one year before accepting a position at a wildlife refuge in Texas.1 It is clear that Cottam left, in part, because his expectations for the new college were not being met
  • I wish to express my gratitude to the trustees, administration, faculty, and students of Brigham Young University for the invitation to be with you for this great celebration of the academic achievements of the men and women who are graduating today. I also want to thank you for the tremendous honor that you are conferring on me. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the graduates and to the families whose love and support enabled these men and women to achieve what they have achieved in these years of study. Finally, I just want to say what a tremendous honor it is for me to be receiving th
  • The program now calls for greetings by the president. Just what is really expected, however, is far from clear. One experienced president gave this sage advice to a new president about the role he should play at a commencement. “Think of yourself as the body at an Irish wake,” he said. “Your presence is necessary in order to have the party, but no one really expects you to say too much.” With that in mind, I would like to provide just a bit of context for today’s event. The first graduation from this institution came at a time before it was a university. Brigham Young Academy, as it was the
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