'There is born within us an upward reach'

President, Sister Hinckley receive honorary degrees

OREM, Utah — After walking on China's great wall, touring Vietnam during its season of intense conflict, mourning with survivors of a deadly shipwreck in the South Pacific and searching for earthquake victims in Peru, President Gordon B. Hinckley told 2,638 Utah Valley State College graduates that he has learned a few things.

President Gordon B. Hinckley is presented with honorary doctorate of humane letters by UVSC President Kerry Romesburg, right, and Doug Morrison at commencement services.
President Gordon B. Hinckley is presented with honorary doctorate of humane letters by UVSC President Kerry Romesburg, right, and Doug Morrison at commencement services. Photo: Photo by Stuart Johnson

"We have learned that there is something precious and wonderful about human life wherever it is found, whatever its circumstances," he said. "There is born within us an upward reach that constantly struggles for improvement. We are possessed of an ambition to make the best of our circumstances, and most wonderful to behold is a universal spirit of unselfishness in behalf of those in trouble and distress."

President Hinckley offered the keynote address at the school's commencement exercises April 27, held in the David O. Mckay Events Center. During the convocation, he and his wife, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, were awarded honorary doctorates for their service to the "community, college and higher education in general."

Sister Hinckley said, in an impromptu address, that she was "overwhelmed and humbled" by the honor of receiving the honorary doctorate of humane letters. President Hinckley received the honorary doctorate of religion and humanity.

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself to find out if my life is really real," Sister Hinckley told the graduates.

Then she added, "You are bright and wonderful people. . . . Just looking at you assures me there is a greater future for our world. Thank you for being the best people you can possibly be."

President Hinckley, who along with his wife received a standing ovation, noted that he and Sister Hinckley would celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary April 29. "In all the years we have experienced very much of what life has to offer," he said. "There have been times of disappointment and times for celebration."

Adding that he will be 91 in June, President Hinckley said he would like to speak from "my generation to yours."

Over the years, he said, he has learned that the work of the world is done largely by men and women of ordinary talent who work in an extraordinary manner.

Sister Hinckley also receives an honorary doctorate.
Sister Hinckley also receives an honorary doctorate. Photo: Photo by Stuart Johnson

"To you, I say, as you go forth from this great institution, wherever life may place you, wherever you may find yourself in the years that lie ahead, regardless of your vocational pursuits, walk the road of simple virtues."

The Church leader asked the graduates to live a life of kindness. "We live in a harsh and mean world," he said. ". . . A touch of love can do absolute wonders."

Next, he asked the young adults to be decent. "I have dealt very much with divorce and troubled marriages," he said. "I have come to one conclusion, and that is if we will make the comfort and well-being of our companion our greatest concern, happiness will follow."

He also asked the graduates to be honest. "It is such a simple thing, and yet so very difficult for so very many people," he said. "Great is the man, regardless of his other accomplishments, who is known as one of integrity, on whose word all can depend."

These virtues — kindness, decency and honesty — are so simple that they scarcely seem worthy of mention, he added. Yet, they are the fabric of life.

"When all is said and done, when you have lived your life and grown as old as I am, you will recognize that it is the simple virtues that count, that make the great difference in our lives."

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