Decades after he was enrolled as a student at LDS Business College, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve received the college's highest honor and addressed graduates in the Tabernacle on Temple Square during the school's commencement services on April 14. This year marks the school's 125th year of operation with a graduating class of 480 graduates from more than 70 different countries.
"It is true that I was once enrolled as a student at LDS Business College," said Elder Nelson. "But I did not qualify for a diploma. So you graduates are ahead of me. You received your diplomas here while you are still young."
Elder Nelson, this years Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, enrolled at the LDS Business college in 1941 to learn Gregg shorthand. Although he did not complete a degree at LDS Business College, the skills he learned as a student there helped him in different employment opportunities — including his time in the medical profession — and throughout his life.
"Today it seems somewhat ironic that these graduation exercises bare the designation, 'Commencement Exercises,'" he said. "Commencement means to begin or to start, not to finish. Actually, commencement is a good term, because you are literally just beginning. Today is truly the first day of the rest of your life. Today is a hinge-point in your own life history."
Elder Nelson spoke to the graduates about the importance of goal setting in establishing priorities in life.
"This is a perfect time to set your priorities in order and make certain that you move in the right direction," he said. "You don't want to be like the man who climbed the ladder of success only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall."
It is the efforts an individual makes to become — rather than on tasks to do — that are important, Elder Nelson said.
"You will have goals," Elder Nelson said. "Some of those goals are great, some are greater and one is greatest."
Great goals often relate to temporal attainment, such as passing tests and finishing courses to eventually receive a college diploma. Those goals are often achieved one by one. Other great goals include gratitude, integrity, wisdom and marriage. Greater goals, Elder Nelson said, relate to the development of attributes of ones character and are important in an individual becoming who they ought to become.
"Heading the list of greater goals would be the attribute of love, including its related qualities of kindness, compassion, courtesy, civility and mercy," he said. "Fostered first in the family, love is centered at home. The most important work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home. And sadly, most of society's problems stem from troubles at home."
Another great goal Elder Nelson spoke about was marriage and the importance of eternal progression.
"Too many young men postpone dating and marriage to pursue careers or hobbies," he said. "Young men, it is time to be men — men of God — who with women of God pursue progressive steps of love, courtship, marriage and family. Marriage of husband and wife is ordained of God. They become a family which is the preserver of the human race. The family is the engine that drives the economy. The family is the foundation for eternal progression, exaltation and everlasting joy."
The greatest goal, Elder Nelson said, is the goal of eternal life.
"One goal, and one goal alone, should become your greatest goal," he said. "What is that? That goal is the goal of eternal life. That goal is God's goal. That goal is God's glory."
Individuals achieve the greatest goal by keeping the commandments of God and enduring to the end.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, on this day of commencement I wish you well," Elder Nelson said. "Pursue your goals, great, greater and greatest, to the end that you may qualify for exaltation and eternal life in the presence of your Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, with your families."
LDS Business College President J. Lawrence Richards also spoke, encouraging graduates to seek after good things.
"Take your LDS Business College education and, in a world with ever-declining morals, integrity and ethics, we charge you to stand," Richards said. "Stand for the qualities and character traits that make you unique in all the world and truly valued by those who can still tell the difference between the norms of the day and lasting qualities of character and leadership."
Number of certficates and degrees awarded: 741 (some students earn more than one; many earn a degree and a certificate)
Number of countries: nearly 70
Nearly every state in the U.S. is represented in the college's student body, and 20% of the college's population are international students.
Number of returned missionaries: 44% of all students
Males to female ratio: Males 53%; Females 47%
Youngest graduate: 17
Oldest graduate: 60