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Embrace Your Role as a Peacemaker and Leader

I am grateful to be able to gather here with you today on this joyful occasion as we begin these commencement exercises. Our dear graduates, I express my deep appreciation for each one of you. Monica and I love you dearly.

The concerted efforts of parents, Church leaders, seminary and institute programs, and education provided by the Church Colleges of the Pacific and BYU–Pathway Worldwide provide a wonderful foundation for our students. We are eternally grateful for the resources made possible through the Church Educational System.

This university has a very specific purpose within the Church Educational System, and that is to provide a CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE for students of Oceania and the Asian Rim. BYU–Hawaii brings together countries and cultures in ways that no other university can. Our mission is to be and build people who follow the example of Christ. This capstone experience prepares students to be lifelong disciples of Christ who can be leaders and examples of intercultural peace.

This university is, and will continue to be, a place where people from across the world gather to be one in Christ and educate and uplift each other. Diversity and unity work together here in remarkable ways.

At the culmination of your time here it is only fitting that we acknowledge the unique talents and perspectives you have all contributed to enrich our campus community. You are inspiring examples of how BYU–Hawaii works to prepare disciples of Jesus Christ.

You are joining a strong and impressive group of BYU–Hawaii alumni. I often have the opportunity to meet with alumni individually and in group settings. Whatever the occasion, I am always touched by how often our conversations focus 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, let us always remember to express gratitude in all things. The Lord has promised that “...he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious.” [1] Here at BYU–Hawaii, we all experience something truly special and glorious. I hope you can always be grateful for the faith and Christlike love that has provided this experience for you. We are here today because of the faith and love that have guided us on this journey. The community we have built, the sacredness of the temple, the excellence of BYU–Hawaii, and the beauty of the Polynesian Cultural Center are all manifestations of our collective faith in God and in one another. Let us never forget the love and sacrifices of those who have supported us along the way. Speaking in the April 2012 General Conference, then-Elder Nelson reminded us that “Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him.” And I would add that it is also a measure of your love for BYU–Hawaii and your love for the many individuals who care about you and believe in you. [2]

Second, follow the direction of President Russell M. Nelson who said, “I urge you to choose to be a peacemaker, now and always.” He also invited us to “examine [our] discipleship within the context of the way [we] treat others.” [3]

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.” [4]

Your time at BYU–Hawaii is truly unique. You have had the opportunity to be immersed in one of the most diverse and unified communities on this earth. Your time here has equipped you with the tools to promote harmony and unity in a world that desperately needs it. Embrace your role as a peacemaker and let your light shine brightly for all to see.

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 has also 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.” [5]

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.”

Lastly, let us trust in the promises of the Lord. As stated in Doctrine and Covenants, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say."[6] By obeying His commandments and acting in faith, we invite blessings into our lives beyond measure. Trust in His promises, and you will see His hand guiding you every step of the way.

As you embrace this new chapter of your lives, remember to be grateful, be peacemakers, and trust in the Lord. The future holds endless possibilities for each of you. Go forth with confidence, knowing that you are prepared to fulfill your prophesied roles as leaders and peacemakers. I have great love for each of you, and I pray for your continued success and happiness.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Doctrine & Covenants 78:19.
[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 77.
[3] Russell M. Nelson, "Peacemakers Needed," Ensign or Liahona, May 2023, 100.
[4] President David O. McKay, "Groundbreaking & Dedication of CCH/BYU–Hawaii,"
[5] Russell M. Nelson, "Peacemakers Needed," Ensign or Liahona, May 2023, 101.
[6] Doctrine and Covenants 82:10.