Graduates Can Make Great Changes for Good

By coupling education with character and integrity, graduates can make great changes for good in the world. That was a common theme in commencement addresses delivered at four different institutions of higher learning by the President of the Church and by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At each location these prophets and apostles stressed the need for graduates to contribute to the world in positive ways.

Swim against the Current

“It is not merely a willingness to work hard that has brought you to this place, but also qualities of character that you have developed throughout your lives,” President Thomas S. Monson said to the 2011 graduating class of Dixie State College in St. George, Utah.

“Nothing takes more strength than swimming against the current,” President Monson said. “You, my friends, are strong and must at times decide to swim against that current.” He told the graduates that the cornerstone of a person’s value system “should be the question, ‘What will I think of myself if I do this?’ . . . What is the point of all the fame and glory if, in the end, we can’t look ourselves in the eye, knowing that we have been honest and true?”

Stand in Stark Contrast

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at both BYU–Hawaii in Laie, Hawaii, and LDS Business College in Salt Lake City, Utah. “You enter a world caught in a steep, slippery slide of diminishing moral values,” Elder Nelson warned. “If you are true and faithful, you will stand out in stark contrast to the surrounding masses mired in mediocrity. . . . You, your families, and your homes will become beacons of hope in a darkened world.”

He urged graduates to be obedient to all of God’s commandments, promising that protection and spiritual strength will result. “Such obedience will prepare you to be great leaders, great wives and husbands, great mothers and fathers. Such obedience will allow you to become more like the Lord.”

Be a Force for Good

“You have the potential for making deep and abiding contributions throughout the world,” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told graduates at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “You have the will to . . . be a force for good in a world that desperately needs it,” he said.

Appealing to our divine nature as sons and daughters of God, Elder Scott said, “You are sorely needed. There is an urgent need for more men and women like you who stand for principles against the growing pressures to compromise those very principles. Men and women are needed who will act nobly and courageously for what the Lord has defined as right, not for what is politically correct or socially acceptable.”

The commencement addresses were given during April and May 2011.

Read a related article about the eternal value of education.