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First senior class receives degrees

BYU-Idaho graduates given 'grand keys' to your happiness

REXBURG, Idaho — On a cold, blustery April morning in Rexburg, President James E. Faust told graduates of BYU-Idaho that a divine facilitating gift can crown their efforts in any endeavor so they may reach their profound potential, "In your learning, in your acquiring, in your progress, in all your labors always live so as to enjoy the compensating gift of the Holy Ghost. In this way, you can be liberated from the groveling of this world."

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, was the main speaker April 26 during the school's commencement exercises, the first to feature a senior class receiving bachelor's degrees since Ricks College became BYU-Idaho in August 2001, although several bachelor's degrees were awarded in April 2002. Later in the same morning, President Faust also dedicated the ground and led the ceremonial groundbreaking for the soon-to-be constructed Thomas E. Ricks Building, in honor of the pioneer for whom Ricks College was named. (Please see accompanying article on this page.)

Also speaking at graduation exercises, during which 2,055 graduates received 2,109 degrees, were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and Church Commissioner of Education, BYU-Idaho President David A. Bednar and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

In his remarks, President Faust reminded graduates: "To have any degree from this university is a singular recognition. BYU-Idaho, along with your sister institutions in Provo and Hawaii, are the only universities in the world where the majority of the Board of Trustees are prophets, seers and revelators. This ensures that this institution's spiritual moorings will be maintained over its life."

Continuing, he said: "To look into your faces today is inspiring. You represent well the splendid young people of our Church, and we applaud you. A few of you, perhaps, may have felt that some of the standards at BYU-Idaho are repressive. I think President Bednar and his predecessors are trying to tell you that how you look will affect how you think and act. This is projecting to the future. It is part of your education. When you walk down the street, when you sit in councils, when you speak, people will see you as truly enlightened, liberated and educated individuals. They will know that you are trying to live above the debasing and confining feelings, thoughts and actions being merchandised in this finite world."

"Today is a day for you and your family to savor," he said. "It is a time of accomplishment, satisfaction and joy," President Faust said, adding that graduation also opens up challenges, opportunities and blessings "beyond your wildest dreams. You must continually learn to function and live in this increasingly complex world. If you are to succeed, you will need to work very hard just to keep up with the changes in technology. You will need to be smart. You will need to learn wisdom."

Prepare for the future, he continued. "You have the heritage, training and the faith to make remarkable achievements in the various roles you will play in life. Obedience to the commandments of God and love and service to others are the grand keys to your happiness here and hereafter."

In his concluding remarks, President Faust urged graduates to "go forth as men and women of honor and loyalty. May you persist one day at a time. May you make a lasting contribution in your journey. May you take your family with you every step of the way."

In his brief address, Elder Eyring said: "You have learned in your studies that God works by unchanging principles. You will find that the search for enduring principles has become natural to you in every field of study. You have had success seeking the wisdom to apply principles. You have learned that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel will bring you the inspiration you will need to be a learner forever.

"Those habits of learning will serve you well wherever you live, whatever changes come in the future, and whatever service you may give in the world and in the Kingdom of God."

President Bednar counseled graduates: "Let me suggest that many, if not all, of your most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in your home, in the Church, in your work, and in your community will be the result of simple and small and ordinary things."

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