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Be Grateful, Make Peace, Honor Covenants

It is now my privilege to address the graduates as we begin these commencement exercises.

Seeing you gathered here today is truly joyful. Monica and I love you dearly. We are grateful for all of you and the way you have each shared your talents and perspectives to enrich our campus. I am especially grateful for, and want to acknowledge, the student mentors from our Holokai Foundations college success course that are graduating today. It was an honor to teach with you; you are inspiring examples of how BYU–Hawaii works to prepare disciples of Jesus Christ.

Last week I met with BYU–Hawaii alumni in Provo, Utah. The gathering was truly remarkable. The Spirit was with us as we laughed and talked together. Our conversations were focused on gratitude for the blessing that BYU–Hawaii has been in our lives, the special feeling of intercultural peace that we experienced at BYU–Hawaii, and the blessings of staying dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to talk to you briefly about those three things.

First, “In every thing give thanks.” [1] Always be grateful for the faith and Christlike love that has provided this experience for you. Here at BYU–Hawaii, we all experience something truly special. This community, the temple, BYU–Hawaii, and the Polynesian Cultural Center exist as they do now because people from all over the world gathered here to live the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every moment we share on this campus has been intricately woven together by our collective faith in God, in His prophets, and in one another. Please remember, and be grateful, that your education has been made possible through the love and sacrifices of countless members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--individuals who care about you and believe in you.

Second, follow the direction of President Russell M. Nelson who said, “I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.” [2]

President David O. McKay said that BYU–Hawaii is to be an “example…of the purposes of our Father in Heaven to unite all peoples by the gospel of Jesus Christ”; he prophesied that you would go forth to be leaders in the “establishment of peace internationally”; He said that you would be the leaders for which “the world is hungering.” [3]

Your time at BYU–Hawaii is truly unique. Beyond technical training in writing, mathematics, or other topics, you have been immersed in one of the most diverse and unified communities on this earth. This experience has prepared you to bring peace, harmony, and unity to your families, communities, and the world through living the teachings of Jesus Christ.

As you go forth to serve in this capacity, your ability to create peace will stand out. That is how it should be. President Nelson taught, “Let us as a people become a true light on the hill—a light that “cannot be hid.” Let us show that there is a peaceful, respectful way to resolve complex issues and an enlightened way to work out disagreements. As you demonstrate the charity that true followers of Jesus Christ manifest, the Lord will magnify your efforts beyond your loftiest imagination.” [4]

As BYU–Hawaii graduates you will find that your capacity as a peacemaker will be recognized, and you will become a leader and an example. Please, “Choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.”

Finally, remember the words of the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants section 82 verse 10, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say…” [5] We have been promised that when we obey His commandments we will be blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual, that we will live in a blessed and happy state, and that in the end we will live with God in a state of never-ending happiness. I urge you to trust in His promises. As you strive to be true to your covenants and act with faith in Jesus Christ, you will see these promises fulfilled in your life.

My dear graduates, please continue to be grateful, choose to be peacemakers, and trust the Lord. The future holds boundless opportunities for each of you. Go forth with confidence and embrace your prophesied roles as peacemakers and leaders. I love you, and I pray for your continued success and joy.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] 1 Thessalonians 5:18
[2] Russell M. Nelson, "Peacemakers Needed", Liahona, April 2023.
[3] President David O. McKay, "Groundbreaking & Dedication of CCH/BYU–Hawaii,"
[4] Russell M. Nelson, "Peacemakers Needed", Liahona, April 2023.
[5] Doctrine and Covenants 82:10