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Spring 2020 Commencement talks encourages students to face the future with faith and courage

Computer screen with graduate and words "Congratulations Spring 2020 Graduates! 'May your education help you become like Christ in courage and in compassion' - John S. Tanner.

Following the prophet is the key to facing the future with faith, said General Sunday School President Mark L. Pace, during the Spring 2020 Commencement, which was live-streamed on June 27.

“Your blessings and protection will come as you continue to follow the Lord’s living prophet throughout your lives.”

Pace reviewed the events of the past several months and congratulated the graduates on their perseverance to obtain a degree despite the uncertain times facing the world.

“You never could have imagined that the last semester would play out as it has,” Pace remarked. “Nevertheless, you were focused on the goal of receiving your degree… Because of your diligence, your goal has been realized.”

Pace emphasized the importance of following the prophet and reiterated the initiatives announced by President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past several years.

He encouraged graduates to face the future with faith and continue contributing to the work of the Lord. “Remember, whatever life’s challenges, be they social, political, economic or spiritual, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer.”

Before Pace’s speech, President John Tanner, who finished his term as president of BYU–Hawaii on June 30, spoke on the importance of courage and compassion in the “life-long educational journey” that follows graduation.

In his talk, Tanner stated, “You are not the first generation to face daunting trials and uncertainty. These have been the common lot for most people in most ages. Yet the Lord has always been with his people in their trials, and He will be with you in yours.”

The Lord has always been with his people in their trials, and He will be with you in yours
John S. Tanner


“I loved President Tanner’s talk,” said Sisilia Meli, a Spring 2020 English graduate from Kaimuki, Oahu.

Tanner explained the word “courage” comes from an old French word that means “heart” and urged students to face the future with courage, heart and faith.

Meli said, “It was cool to think that courage and heart are connected. When he mentioned that the word ‘courage’ comes from the word ‘heart’ and encouraged us to go forward into the future with courage and heart, it made sense because they’re the same thing. That part really hit me.”

Tanner added that this courage matters in developing real honesty, chastity and becoming “genuine gold,” as David O. McKay envisioned when the university was first established.

He also shared the importance of compassion in facing the future with faith. “The world needs leaders who are full of fellow-feeling for others. Who possess not only courage but compassion and empathy.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this commencement was live-streamed online on Saturday, June 27, with pictures and information of each graduate portrayed on screen as a virtual graduation procession.

“I liked watching the commencement in the comfort of my home because I was right here with my family. It felt more personal in a way,” shared Meli, who plans to take the Law School Admission Test in August.

According to Pace, 208 degrees were awarded in total, with 8 associate's, 56 bachelor's of arts, 134 bachelor's of science, 1 bachelor's of fine arts and 9 master's of social work. Tanner also noted the graduates represented 24 countries and 25 states, and the age range was from 20 to 67 years old.