Seek first God's kingdom — you'll be rewarded with a wise and understanding heart, promised Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy during his address at the LDS Business College commencement exercises May 4.
While most of the graduates being honored likely finished their studies in a year or two, achieving a "wise and understanding heart" may demand a lifetime. "However, it is a glorious quest and will reap a harvest of blessings beyond your comprehension," Elder Featherstone said.
During the ceremony in Temple Square's Assembly Hall, degrees were awarded to 243 students of the Church-owned college. Many will continue their studies at four-year universities. Others will take their skills to the job market. Regardless of the path, seek first the kingdom of God, Elder Featherstone said.
"Should we fail in our reverence and duty to God, it makes little difference what success in life we achieve. We have failed in that which is of most worth."
Elder Featherstone admonished graduates to believe in themselves when others don't, enlisting a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one else can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Live moral lives, he added. No one can be truly great who is immoral. They may be successful, but not great.
"All of you will be tested and the temptations will be great, but the rewards of virtue and chastity are numerous," Elder Featherstone said.
Anticipate trials and obstacles. Enjoy life's journey. Prioritize and keep things in their proper order, Elder Featherstone counseled the graduates.
"Put the things you value most at the top of the list," he said. "Remember, your companion and children will be with you throughout your life and in the eternities. Prioritize."
Fly high, but stay grounded, he advised. Discover what it means to be a "real" man or woman — the kind of person who patterns his or her life after the Savior's, he said.
LDS Business College President Stephen K. Woodhouse compared the graduates to blossoming tulips turning to the sun and opening their hearts and souls in eager anticipation. But there are others whose growth has been stunted, choked by weeds of difficulty and despair.
"For them, there is no bright commencement, no world of opportunity, no new vistas," President Woodhouse said. "I believe we have a responsibility to reach out to them. Together, let's create new ways to embrace them, to assist them in fulfilling their potential, to encourage them to take those next steps toward a bright future."
President Woodhouse told the graduates that their education and preparation will be a lifelong blessing, and encouraged them to use that learning so it will be a blessing to others.
A pair of students with a 4.0 grade-point average, Michelle Barker and Nicole Crocker, also spoke.
Gale F. Hammond, a 1942 graduate and owner of Hammond Toy and Hobby, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award during the commencement exercise. Former LDS Business College President Kenneth H. Beesley was awarded a Presidential Citation, the first such honor given by the college.
The school was founded by the Church in 1886, with Karl G. Maeser its founding principal. Current enrollment is about 900, with students hailing from 36 states and 45 countries. Almost all students are LDS.
Jason Swensen's e-mail: [email protected]