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Led by a Prophet


Elder and Sister Kearon, President and Sister Kauwe, faculty, family, friends, Aloha! And graduates, congratulations! We’re thrilled to be here with you!

You look wonderful. You look happy. Those of you who passed your last final exam this week look…relieved!

All of you have family and friends who love you. Many of them have traveled to be with you today. Later, even though the attention and celebration will be focused on you, find a moment to put your arms around them and whisper a sincere thank you.

You are graduating from one of the great universities in the world, a university with deeply committed faculty, staff, and administration. Thank you to each of you who serve our students with both expertise and enthusiasm, while also building faith in the Savior.

And a huge thank you to President and Sister Kauwe. Most of us only see them in a few public moments, but in those moments this couple sparkles. Let me assure you that they shine in private moments as well. They are deeply committed to you and to this university.

President Kauwe did not apply for this assignment. His appointment as president came as a surprise to him and Sister Kauwe. The decision to call Dr. Kauwe to serve as President Kauwe was made by the First Presidency. And along with this assignment came a charge, a responsibility with clear objectives outlining what the First Presidency and the Lord expect President Kauwe and this university to accomplish.

A Prophetic Board of Trustees

That is the thought I want to share with you today. BYU‒Hawaii is led by a prophet, by the Savior’s prophets and apostles. Following the Savior and His prophet is the very core of the identity, purpose, and direction of this university. As both the world and each of us individually encounter the prophesied commotion [1] and calamities [2], I add my testimony to yours that if we will deliberately choose to follow Jesus Christ and His prophet, hope and confidence will come. We will be prepared for the Savior and His coming reign [3] and the gates of hell will not prevail against us. [4]

Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were recently assigned to inaugurate the new presidents of BYU and BYU‒Idaho. (That, by the way, makes President Kauwe one of the ooooold presidents!) In his inaugural remarks, Elder Rasband taught something for us here at BYU‒Hawaii:

"It is important to recognize that … this institution operates under the guidance of a unique and distinctive Board of Trustees…[BYU‒Hawaii] is founded, supported, and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … [BYU‒Hawaii’s] Board is led by the First Presidency, with President Russell M. Nelson serving as Chairman…This prophetic…governance structure creates a tremendous advantage for [BYU‒Hawaii, for President Kauwe], the work of its faculty and staff, and the spiritual development of [each of you]…"[5]

Please note this final thought from Elder Rasband: “Indeed, [the leadership of the First Presidency] allows, in fact it compels [us], to do things at this university that could be done nowhere else in the world.” [6]

To borrow an inspiring thought from then-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Nelson, who we have all come to cherish as the Lord’s prophet and mouthpiece on the earth, also chairs our Board of Trustees, holds our purse strings, and has the final ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on every proposal we might make” [7]—from the new Banyan Dining Hall, which is magnificent, to the coming McKay complex, which will strengthen BYU‒Hawaii’s Christ-centered foundation and student-focused direction for generations! “[President] Russell M. Nelson is very, very good at listening to us. Those who participate with us on the Board have learned the value of listening carefully to him.” [8]

Tomorrow.  Now you’re leaving

This university and what you have experienced here is directly led by those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. Please remember, prophetic leadership invites—and even compels—you and me to do things differently as we commence and go forward after today.

If we can choose to do so, the Savior’s prophet will lead us to the Lord who is the Author of our faith, the Prince of our ability to find peace in an increasingly discontent world, and the Healer of all that is broken in our lives.

I testify that Jesus Christ is the Tender Mercy of God the Father, [9] and the Only Source of our happiness. I pray we will choose, as President Nelson has implored us, to let God prevail in our lives [10] where we will find joy in every circumstance. [11]

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 45:26
[2] Doctrine and Covenants 1:17
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 1:12-23
[4] Doctrine and Covenants 18:5
[5-6] See Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Comments at the inauguration of BYU President C. Shane Reese, September 19, 2023.
[7] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, The Second Half of the Second Century of Brigham Young University, University Conference, August 23, 2021
[8] Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, The Second Half of the Second Century of Brigham Young University, University Conference, August 23, 2021
[9] Luke 1:78
[10] President Russell M. Nelson, "Let God Prevail", Ensign or Liahona, October 2020, 92.
[11] President Russell M. Nelson, "Joy and Spiritual Survival", Ensign or Liahona, October 2016, 81.