TESOL education major Ping Liu, who was selected to be BYU-Hawaii’s student Fall 2017 Graduation speaker, shared how her conversion to the gospel led her to receive a higher education and choose a major that would allow her to contribute to her home country of China.
“For my future plans, I will definitely go back to my home country and do something over there,” said Liu. “Lots of people, even my family, asked me to stay in the U.S. as life here seems more enjoyable.”
Liu said a bishop she met in Utah provided her with much inspiration. “He said, ‘Always remember who helped you in the past and who you can help in the future.’ I felt like the Lord wanted me to meet him so that I would remember why I came to study at BYUH.”
Speaking of the moment she found out she was being selected to speak at graduation, she said with an anxious face, “It would be my first time to speak in front of so many people coming from all around the world. I was totally shocked and didn’t expect it at all.”
In order to be considered for speaking at graduation, Liu said deans from every department on campus submit names of the top students with the highest academic achievements and then pray about them. She said, “What the student council said stuck out to me. [They said] the Lord brought my name to their attention.”
Liu explained her thoughts on why she felt she was chosen. “A high grade made me qualified to be on the list. Working in the temple as an ordinance worker for two and a half years with many of the school faculty members made my name easily recognized from the list.”
Regarding what she wants to address at the ceremony, Liu said she has decided to focus on one or two things that would inspire a small amount of people instead of trying to impress everyone. “I would like to share my journey of why I ended up studying at BYUH and my suggestions in particular for international students who are struggling with the language.
“I was told by my family and culture that all we have to do is just marry someone who can provide us with a good living. After I was baptized and served my mission in New York North, I got to know that education is the key to provide us with more opportunities to serve the Lord and people around us.
“The gospel is a turning point in my life. That changed my mind about receiving an education while I stopped school and worked at the age of 15.” Liu said she only made it to the ninth grade. “I worked really hard to study in Oregon to get my GED. Later, I came to study at BYUH.”
Achievements and regrets at BYUH
Liu said her time management skills were a contributing factor to her high grades. “The biggest success that I have achieved throughout these three years is … I [never] missed a class nor turned assignments in late.
“I have my planner with me every day. If I missed a class, I feel like I would miss a whole lot. Going to class is my job being a student. Missing a class is just like not going to work.
“For a regret, my host family [in Oregon] also graduated from BYUH and told me that they used to study really hard and they didn’t go out to have fun when they were students. Today, I feel like I have the same feeling like them. I haven’t been to a lot of places near Laie.”
Liu summarized her three years of school life at BYUH, “If I studied TESOL at another university, I wouldn’t have teachers caring about my spiritual learning. Teachers here not only are capable of teaching temporal knowledge, but they also care about your spiritual growth and how you become a future leader. That impressed me the most.”
Graduation is on Dec. 15
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is scheduled to speak at BYU-Hawaii’s Fall graduation on Dec. 15. Daryl Whitford, the university registrar, said about 250 students are expected to receive diplomas at commencement in the Cannon Activities Center beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Elder Rasband was called to be an apostle in October 2015. Before that he served in the Presidency of the Seventy since 2005, was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, served in several area presidencies, was a full-time missionary in the Eastern States Mission (1970-1972), and presided over the New York, New York North Mission from 1996 to 1999.
He attended the University of Utah. In 1976, he began working at the Huntsman Corporation and in 1987, he was appointed president and chief operating officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation.
He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1951, and he married Melanie Twitchell in 1973. They have five children.