LAIE, HAWAII — BYU-Hawaii's commencement ceremony on June 19 at the Cannon Activities Center honored the largest graduating class in school history and also included the largest number of international students.
Approximately 400 students from 37 countries donned black and silver gowns and caps, culminating four years of academic instruction. The number of students marks a new high for a June commencement, topping last June's total of 345 graduates. The 37 representing countries is also seven more than last year's high mark of 30.
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of Twelve addressed the graduates on the subject of the shifting of values in present-day society.
"We are becoming more and more worldly and are drifting further and further from our basic value systems," Elder Perry said. "We have allowed some of our traditional culture and family values to slip away from us.
"The challenge is squarely before you. As you emerge now from the special opportunities you had at BYU-Hawaii, what will you do to build your life on stable, enduring values in the face of such opposition?" he asked.
He explained that in contrast to the shifting values in society, the values taught by the prophets and the foundation of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon have remained constant over the centuries.
Elder Perry emphasized that "these values trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, obedience to God's commandments, testimony of the word of God, and humility will endure forever. If you will build your life, your family, and your community on this firm foundation, you will not fall.
"Your graduation today marks the completion of a special phase in your lives," he added. "You will be leaving behind you many friendships and associations which have meant so much to you here on campus. Will those future reunions be times of rejoicing because you still have a common purpose and are still on a common course, and have found each other strong in knowledge, sound in understanding and still searching diligently to know the word of God?"
The rising number of graduating international students directly reflects the university's mission of increasing the overall international student body and training the students to become leaders in their home countries. The 149 international graduates is a 50 percent rise from the 94 that walked last June. In countries outside the U.S., Japan had the highest number of graduates at 20, with South Korea following at 14. The Philippines came next with 11, and Fiji and New Zealand each had 10 graduating seniors.
Other graduates were from Malaysia, France, Cambodia, Ghana, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Jamaica, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Czech Republic, Panama, Spain, Sri Lanka, Australia, Switzerland and Vietnam.
Fifty-eight graduates were from the Hawaiian Islands and another 192 came from 28 states around the United States.