BUENA VISTA, VA. Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy told the 58 members of the Southern Virginia University's graduating class that "education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
Speaking April 25 to the largest graduating class since the school was reorganized in 1996, Elder Hafen recounted how early Church leaders overcame obstacles, and told graduates that they also can overcome whatever situations they might face and achieve great things.
"A desire for education is at the heart of the gospel when the gospel is at the heart of the education," he said. He encouraged graduates to "not passively go throughout life expecting others to 'fill their buckets,' but to actively make a contribution wherever they go."
Southern Virginia University is a former women's college reorganized by members of the Church to reflect Latter-day Saint values and honor code.
Dr. E. Curtis Fawson, president of SVU, commended the graduates for exemplifying the mission of the school, which strives to "fulfill the spiritual, intellectual and social potential" of each student.
One of the historic events to take place was the first commissioning of SVU graduate Dallen R. Arny through the ROTC program organized two years ago through the Virginia Military Institute.
An honorary doctorate was conferred on Jason Wang, an international businessman, friend and supporter of the university.
Graduates included 35 women and 23 men and represented 17 states. Five international students from Argentina and Ecuador also received diplomas. Southern Virginia University is expecting to enroll 600 students in the fall. This past fall, 489 students enrolled.
After three years of pre-accreditation, SVU was granted full accreditation on May 5 with the American Academy of Liberal Education, a nationally recognized accrediting agency for institutions of higher education and programs within institutions of higher education that offer liberal arts degrees at the baccalaureate level.