Elder Cook, President and Sister Kauwe, fellow graduates, family and friends, and those watching from afar, Aloha!
I am seriously so happy to be standing here with you today. We did it! Doesn’t it feel great to be here at this point? The relief I feel is incredible. If any of you have talked to me over the last few weeks, you would know that my stress levels were at an all-time high for almost this entire semester, and only now, with this speech, are they starting to come down.
But on a more serious note, I am so humbled by the opportunity to speak to you today, and I am so grateful to be amongst all of you. I’m also so grateful for all the people that helped me get here, that helped all of us get here;
- For our teachers who had to deal with all our emails asking for help, all the begging and pleading to accept the assignments, even though you told us to start on it early because you knew this would happen if we didn’t. Thank you for accepting them or not accepting them and helping us learn important lessons about the “real world”.
- For our parents who support us in any way they can and push us to work hard and make good decisions.
- I know I’m incredibly grateful for my husband, who has had to deal with my irritable mood and frustration as I tried to get assignments done and being so willing to work with all of it.
- I’m grateful for all of the people that make it possible for us to go to school and make this special place what it is.
- Most importantly, for our Heavenly Father, who was there with us throughout all of it and strengthened us through each seemingly impossible task.
My fellow graduates, what a journey it has been for us to get to this point! Each of us started school under normal conditions, with a plan for how we thought our college experience would go. We had many regular semesters, enjoying campus activities, making new friends, everything we expected from college life at BYU–Hawaii. Then the pandemic hit, and with it came a myriad of new challenges to be faced. So, in the middle of the semester, we went online.
Many of you had to deal with flights home, others, the lack of flights home, and we all had to deal with trying to continue our education in a different, and in my opinion, much more complex environment. You know, during one of my first semesters here, I took one or two online classes. I remember that after that semester ended, I vowed never to take an online class again, and look how that turned out. Now, four semesters of online classes later, I can say that I still feel the same way.
All jokes aside, online classes did have their perks; I could do things when in the day I wanted to, and I never had to leave my house to do it. I know not all of you had it so easy though, I seriously respect those of you who had to search for access to wifi and computers to do your work on or those that had to wake up at 2 in the morning to attend a zoom meeting. Things aren’t entirely back to the way they were; I’m not sure they ever will be, but I’m happy to have been able to finish up with all of you here.
I’d love to say it’s all smooth sailing from here, but we all know that’s not true. We are about to face many more challenges that might make us doubt our ability to get through them. I know that with the Lord’s help, we can get through all that the world will throw at us. He helped us get this far, and he won’t stop any time soon. We did a hard thing getting to this point, especially during this time so trust that you have what it takes to push past your limits.
And as someone very dear to my heart, Naruto Uzumaki, would say, “Believe it!” Believe in yourself, that you can accomplish anything, and make a difference in the world. Believe that you are the genuine gold that David O. McKay prophesied us to be and that we can lead and serve with the knowledge we’ve obtained here at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. I don’t know what lies ahead of us. All I know is it’s something incredible.
Again, I am so grateful to have spent this last semester with you all in person and to see at least half of what all of your faces look like. I know I don’t know many of you, but I love you all, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.