Around this time of year, schools would typically be holding graduation ceremonies as the end of the school year approaches. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that ceremonial walk where graduates dress in cap and gown and stride across a stage to receive a diploma has been postponed or canceled altogether.
Church-owned schools of higher education are no exception to the social distancing measures put into place to avoid transmission of the novel coronavirus. BYU, BYU–Idaho and BYU–Hawaii each announced cancellations of upcoming commencement exercises.
In the case of LDS Business College, that celebratory walk was held virtually.
“Even though you are not able to ‘walk’ in the traditional sense on graduation day, please consider that there are many ways to walk — but none more important than the Savior’s way,” President Jean B. Bingham said during LDSBC’s commencement ceremony on Friday, April 10.
President Bingham, Relief Society general president, and LDS Business College President Bruce C. Kusch addressed the 522 graduates who have earned 601 two-year degrees and 265 certificates in an event that was the first and last of its kind.
“It is the first time we have held a commencement virtually, with no audience and no graduates in attendance,” President Kusch said. “It is our last commencement as LDS Business College.” On Sept. 1, LDS Business College will become Ensign College, and the commencement in April will be the first as Ensign College.
President Bingham spoke of different ways that each person can walk in the Savior’s way, even during a period of social distancing.
“Scripturally, we find numerous expressions of walking, such as walk righteously, walk uprightly, walk in the steps of the Lord, walk in the strait path, walk in the ways of truth, walk in His law, walk humbly and walk in the light as descriptions of walking in the ways of Jesus Christ.”
Walking in the light of Christ’s example gives each person the opportunity to learn and grow. Some walks are easy, like a walk in the park, while others are more challenging.
President Bingham shared her experience of trips taken to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area between Minnesota and Canada. In this expanse, there are more than 1,000 large and small lakes with no river to connect them. Trails lead from one lake to another. To traverse this path, each person has to carry their own gear, some of the group’s equipment and the canoes to the next lake.
Some of these trails are short, flat and wide, with beautiful wildlife and scenery. Others are steep and rock-strewn with knotty tree roots, or slippery and muddy.
Despite this challenging journey, President Bingham has repeated this trip for many years. “Why? The overall experience was worth slogging through the difficult parts,” she said. “In the end, we found much more beauty than burden; the joy and fulfillment we felt at the conclusion was absolutely worth the discomfort along the way.”
Life is much like these canoe trips. Although there will be challenges, each person needs to be flexible in finding solutions to problems as they arise.
“Focusing on the good things around us rather than just on the immediate concerns, helping to ease the burdens of others even in the midst of our own trials, and taking time to observe and applaud progress can bring hope and make our troubles lighter.”
Both trials and joys are included in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. “As we keep putting one foot in front of the other with faith in Jesus Christ, we will feel peace as we accomplish our goals and fulfill our divine potential.”
Those who are graduating are progressing temporally. But in order to progress spiritually, President Bingham suggested pondering this question: “How can I continue to walk in the ways of righteousness?”
Have a few reminders, such as favorite scriptures, hymns or Primary songs, to continue following the Savior’s example and commit them to memory, she said.
Encouraging others to walk in His light and stay on the covenant path can also make one’s experience more joyful. “As we do so, our own testimonies are increased, our individual resolve is strengthened and our joy is multiplied when we bring others on the covenant path with us.”
As graduates move out into the world and take their places, they have the opportunity to make a significant difference, President Bingham said.
“It will not be easy, but it will be eternally worth the effort to grow in faith and be consistent in walking in the meekness of Jesus Christ in order to enjoy His promised peace.”
President Kusch spoke on two principles that are “key ingredients in the recipe for an abundant life”: diligent work and a commitment to service in the Lord’s kingdom. They are like the yeast that makes bread rise.
“Lacking diligence and a commitment to the Savior, we likewise will not rise to our potential, but will miss out on blessings, privileges and opportunities which otherwise might lift us in ways that we can never even imagine.”
He recognized that many graduates feel some disappointment that current events have made them unable to celebrate their accomplishments as they would have imagined. President Kusch invited them to focus on those accomplishments as well as the friends they have made and the important lessons they have learned. “This is what will endure and sustain you in the future as you reflect and draw upon your LDS Business College experience.”
All 2020 LDS Business College graduates are invited to participate in Ensign College’s 2021 commencement exercises.