Elder Cook, President and Sister Kauwe, fellow graduates, family and friends who are watching from afar, Aloha! And Mingalapar.
I appreciate all your love, prayers, and support. I am honored to stand before you today as a student speaker. Years of hard work and long days have finally paid off.
I have a unique academic history which has been a learning process that has made me the person I am today. When I was young, the only English learning materials I had were children’s cartoon journals, a dictionary, and an English-Burmese bible. After high school, I learned about a free English class taught by native speakers who were senior missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The love I have in learning led me to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ and become a member of the Church.
My journey to BYU–Hawaii was long and challenging.
My family left Myanmar and we lived in a refugee camp on the Myanmar-Thailand border. While there, I observed many unfortunate people with difficult life situations. Some are the victims of war; others are from broken families, and all have financial problems. Their stories gave me a strong desire to study Social Work.
As an international student studying abroad for the first time, I had difficulties understanding lectures, starting conversations, and participating in class. However, I know why I am here. I am here for a higher education and to become closer to God.
While many young people struggle to achieve education in Myanmar and in the refugee camp, I am very blessed to have been able to obtain a quality education here. I value this opportunity and try my very best to accomplish my goals. May I remind you, my fellow students, that you are blessed at this time with educational opportunity while many people have no access to proper education.
I am here today to encourage you to value what you have now. Take courage to face challenges and reach out for help from professors, friends, and resources provided by the university.
Despite your struggles, you can reach this moment by putting all your efforts into your learning. Then, enjoy the reward that follows.
Please remember that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows us well and loves to support every step we take in this educational process. He will guide us and walk with us. We can reach our full potential by valuing our education and learning opportunities. I testify this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.