PRICE, Utah Speaking at commencement exercises for the College of Eastern Utah May 6, President Thomas S. Monson offered "three unfailing maps" to graduates to "guide each of you in your personal voyage of life."
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the largest graduating class in the college's history, with 400 associate degrees and 51 certificates of completion awarded.
Speaking with candor and warm humor, he elaborated on his "unfailing maps:"
"Labor to learn.Education is a process, not a completed act. To achieve excellence, you must open the door to learning yourself. Contrary to what we would like to believe, excellence in education is rarely unearned."
Emphasizing the importance of continued learning, President Monson counseled: "The truth is that the person who quits learning upon leaving school is giving in to an idea of limited usefulness, limited satisfaction and limited happiness. He is contributing to his own bewilderment and feeling of insecurity in a fast-moving world."
President Monson urged graduates to "reject rejection," citing as examples Robert Frost, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, all of whom received rejection early in their lives.
"Think to thank. In these three words you have the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, the formula for enduring friendships and a pattern for personal happiness. One of the problems of this troubled world in which we live is that people think more of getting than of giving, of receiving and not even stopping to express thanks for that which is received.
"We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to all of those, past and present, who have given so much of themselves, that we might have so much for ourselves. Take things with gratitude rather than for granted."
"Strive to serve. Vision without work is daydreaming. Work without vision is drudgery. But work coupled with vision shall yield to you the success you desire."
President Monson said that one might be tempted to doubt his or her influence being only one. He then related the account of seaman Elgin Staples, who was on a destroyer in the Pacific Theater in World War II. Back home in Akron, Ohio, his mother wondered what she could do to help the war effort. She went to work in an arms plant.
"Every morning before she went to work, she would pray, 'Grant that whatever I do today may be helpful to our country and to my boy.' Elgin Staples went down in the Pacific off Guadalcanal when his ship was torpedoed. Many were killed. He clung to a life preserver and floated to a rescue vessel, from whence he was extricated from the ocean.
"He hauled up the life preserver with him and claimed it as the most valuable souvenir he had ever had. Later he found that that life preserver had been made, inspected and packed back home in Akron, Ohio, by his own mother."
Continuing, President Monson explained: "Commitment to a purpose, an idea; persistence, never quitting these must each day be your quest. As the U.S. Army says, 'Be all that you can be.' Graduates, you not only enter your new world you help to shape it."
Reiterating his counsel to "labor to learn, think to thank and strive to serve," President Monson then complimented the College of Eastern Utah president and faculty for planting the seeds of learning and curiosity in the graduates' minds. "Now it's your turn," he told the graduates. "Nurture those seeds well as you acknowledge the real meaning of commencement. You, here and now, with diploma in hand, commence the next stage in your lives. May you have the ability and wisdom to succeed in the exciting business of living.
"Go for it!"