‘Get understanding,’ Elder Gary E. Stevenson says as he receives honorary doctorate at Utah State University

In a video at the event, graduates hear Elder Stevenson’s counsel and personal experiences of getting understanding and finding opportunities to bless others

He attended college, got married, raised a family, built a business, and became a part of the Cache Valley, Utah, community in his more than 30 years living there. But Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s return to Logan last week gave him a unique opportunity.

Utah State University awarded Elder Stevenson, now serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an honorary doctorate of business as part of its commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 4. Three others were also awarded honorary degrees as part of the event. Elder Stevenson was introduced at the ceremony by Elder David H. Huntsman, a Utah Area Seventy and member of the Board of Trustees of Utah State University.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, second from left, applauds at Utah State University’s commencement where he received an honorary degree of doctor of business on Thursday, May 4, 2023, in Logan, Utah. | Levi Sim, Utah State University

During the event, the school showed a pre-recorded video with Elder Stevenson sharing some memories of his time at the university and sharing counsel with its newest graduates.

He said he remembered walking into the school’s library every day and seeing the quote, “With all thy getting, get understanding.”

This excerpt from Proverbs 4:7 is still displayed in the renovated school library for current students to also see.

“Strive to get that understanding,” he said. “You’re going to get a lot of things. You’re going to get a job, a home, a mortgage, a family, but with all of that getting, get understanding. And that understanding is treating other people with dignity, with kindness.”

Elder Stevenson himself found many of the things he mentioned to the graduates when he was a student. He met his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, while the two were attending college, and they were married only weeks before his graduation. He earned a degree in business administration. They began their family. They started a business. So, he was speaking from first-hand experience when giving that counsel.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” - Proverbs 4:7

He also shared that understanding is something that helps people be able to bless others.

“If we can have that understanding, it’s going to bless your life and your family and the lives of people that you’re going to work with in education and in commerce and in law and in whatever you’re going to be doing.”

And the connections he made during his time as a university student, he said, formed some of his best memories of that time in his life.

“One of the best things that I remember of being at USU has got to be the association with others and an appreciation for everyone — the opportunity to be involved in something, the opportunity to rub shoulders with people that come from all different backgrounds, all different places, and to be able to share some kind of common ground with them.”

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