Spring 2019 Graduates gather for commencement, speakers encourage them to seek the kingdom of God
Written by
Taffie Kwok and Alyssa Odom
Students prepare to enter the Cannon Activities Center for the Spring 2019 Graduation Commencement.
Image By
Emily Hancock

The Spring 2019 graduating class entered into the Cannon Activites Center two by two as Daniel Bradshaw, professor of language and performing arts, played “Pomp and Circumstance.” The audience welcomed the graduates with applause. Four speakers gave speeches to encourage the graduates to continue walking with God.

President John S. Tanner opened the ceremony with a remark about the relationship between seeing and believing. He said, “Be believing in order to see things as they really are.” His remarks set the tone for the rest of the speakers to share their prepared insights for the graduates and audience. 

Graduate speaker

Student speaker Michelle Lung Chan, a graduate from Hong Kong with a degree in TESOL education, shared a parable of boiling food. The three ingredients included; a potato, an egg, and roasted cocoa beans. These three ingredients are placed in a pot of boiling water, which symbolizes the adversity we face in this life. The potato becomes fragile, the egg hard, and cocoa beans totally transformed into hot chocolate. 

Chan’s father said he believed his daughter can be the egg and cacao beans. “I have witnessed her growth in the past five years. She has a strong belief and that motivates her to be successful. She does what she wants and believes is best but not what others want.” 

Chan’s mother jumped with tears of joy and said, “Lung has always been so tough and mature growing up, we only want her to be happy and stay healthy in the future.” 

Ayla Swart, a graduate from Washington with a degree in communications, said she felt inspired by Chans remarks. “When I heard the analogy about the egg, potato, and cocoa beans, I was reminded how important it is to use our trials to help us grow, change, and become stronger rather than falling apart.” 

Remarks from R. Kelly Haws

R. Kelly Haws, Assistant to the Commissioner and Secretary to the Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees, spoke about the incredible power of the connection of BYU–Hawaii and the Laie Hawaii Temple. He attributed the academic success of the students to the balance of academic learning and spiritual learning. “Our education is a spiritual responsibility,” he said.

He concluded his remarks by commending the students for their hard work in college and reminding them, “Your life will always be better because of what you learned at the intersection of Hale La’a Boulevard and Kulanui Street.”

Thoughts from Elder Brian K. Taylor

Elder Brian Taylor, second counselor to the Idaho/North America Central Area Presidency, began his commencement address by reminiscing on one of the teachings he grew to love in his college days. He quoted the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount, saying, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Taylor shared the importance of choosing to seek God in all things, saying, “The graduates here today just made an important walk, and now it is time to walk out the door and choose to walk with God continually.”

He expounded on the story of Enoch from the Bible when Enoch receives an invitation from God, saying, “Walk with me.” Taylor said, “The Lord’s invitation does not only apply to Enoch. The Lord is always inviting us to walk with him.”

Thoughts from the audience

After the graduation ceremony, Nawaporn Ruangthap, a freshman from Thailand studying piano performance, said she was inspired by all of the speakers. She said, “If we believe, it is possible for us to achieve the goals we set. Remember not just to walk out on our own, but to walk out with faith in God and strive to serve others along the way.”

Hin Yee “January” Yeung, a graduate from Hong Kong with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, walked with her husband, Hunsik Son, a graduate from Korea with a degree in graphic design. Yeung said, “It is so much more fun to walk with someone special. Being with my significant other made the graduation so much more fun.”

Following them walked another couple, Mat and Ai Mei Chen Watson, who graduated with degrees in business management and HTM respectively. According to Mat Watson’s Facebook page, he said his wife worked hard to graduate two semesters early enabling them to walk together. He said he “Couldn’t be more proud of her.” 

Date Published
July 10, 2019
Last Edited
July 10, 2019