Speaking at BYU-Hawaii's 40th spring commencement exercises June 17, Relief Society Gen. Pres. Elaine L. Jack urged graduates to stand fast in the faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Speaking in the Cannon Activities Center to a graduating class of 184 students from 28 countries, Pres. Jack said: "As members of the Church we have a singular responsibility to stand fast in one spirit. We need to stand as one people, with a common bond of the gospel, understanding in our minds the principles and doctrines, and yoked together in our service to our Father in Heaven."Pres. Jack further explained that as disciples of Christ, members of the Church must be faithful to the principles of the gospel in the way they live their lives by trying harder to be on guard against the adversary. This can be accomplished, she said, by standing in right places and doing, sharing, joining and contributing to all that is good – even when it is hard.
"In Section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, `Stand ye in holy places and be not moved.' We are characterized as Saints when we seek holiness," said Pres. Jack. "Those who are straining only for the light of fame and fortune, are not seeking to do the will of God."
She spoke of how a college education plays a vital role in an individual's progression. "We are together today as one group to celebrate the accomplishments of each one of you," she noted. "You have been blessed with the light of the gospel in your every association – in your classes and your day-to-day operations. What we really applaud is not a certificate but a statement of progression, eternal progression."
At the closing of her commencement address, Pres. Jack charged the 1995 spring graduates to make the commitment now to stand fast in the faith by concentrating on five areas: be a firm member of the Church, be faithful to the principles of the gospel, be on their watch, be strong, and stand in holy places.
"You have been nurtured in this greenhouse of goodness and light we call BYU-Hawaii," she said. "You are leaving the spiritual light of this greenhouse today. The Lord now is relying on you to share the light and knowledge you have assimilated with the world.
"You have a great destiny and your impact will be intensified by the events celebrated today. You have a tremendous future, including many responsibilities, obligations and challenges. We expect – we do not simply hope – we expect great things of each one of you. Stand fast in the faith, brothers and sisters, and the Lord will use you for the building of the kingdom of God in all parts of the world."
Johnny Chun Man Kwan, a mathematics major from Hong Kong who also received his associate's degree in computer science, was the valedictorian of the 1995 spring class.
As part of the commencement, BYU-Hawaii Pres. Eric B. Shumway and Vice Pres. Olani Durrant conferred one of the university's highest honors on John "Jack" Hoag, president and chairman of the board of Hawaii Reserves Inc. A former bishop and stake president, Brother Hoag is public affairs director for the Church in Hawaii. He received the 1995 Distinguished Service Award for, "his exemplary professional life; for his goodness of heart and generous spirit in helping others; for his consummate integrity, humility, love of the Lord and simple desire to serve Him by his life."