Utah Valley University held its 74th commencement on April 30. There were 5,143 graduates earning 5,341 degrees. The graduates heard messages from Tyler Brklacich, outgoing student body president, President Matthew Holland and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate in the 2012 election.
The evening began with Holland listing the many accomplishments UVU has seen in the last school year, including a new Student Life and Wellness Center, the Classroom Building which opened in January, property purchased in Vineyard, the Vivint Smart Lab and others.
“I can go on and on and on, but I won’t … our greatest achievement sits right here before me,” said Holland.
Brklacich highlighted different students and the adversities they had to overcome to earn their degree. His message was one of hope and love, telling the graduates that they had all overcome different challenges to get there. Brklacich embodied the spirit of inclusion in his speech and expressed to all of the graduates and current students that no matter their struggles, ”we notice you and we are celebrating with you.”
“Whether you belong with those like you, or in a group that looks nothing like you, you belong. If you feel like you don’t, then shame on me, shame on us, shame on no one reaching out to you to let you know that you are worth something more than a grade on a paper or a number at a university,” said Brklacich.
Curtis Blair, trustee and president of the UVU Alumni Association, pointed out to graduates that the first ‘U’ in the UVU logo is the outline of the state of Utah and that it represents something meaningful about the university. Blair declared the class of 2015 official alumni of UVU.
Holland began his address by talking about some of the best graduation speech advice he ever received. When he asked his then-7-year-old daughter, Gracie, what to say, she responded, “Tell them, ‘Congrats, Badabing Badaboom! Have a great summer!”
Holland reminded the graduates that they had the opportunity to manage a piece of UVU for a time, and that what they have built will still be here long after they are gone.
“As I look out across this massive sea of bright, talented, and well-trained dynamos, I see waves and waves of future success,” said Holland.
Romney advised students that long after they forget the lessons they were taught by professors, it’s the relationships they cultivate that will matter most. He advised graduates to live large.
“Living life in fullness includes serving others, and doing so without pride or personal gain. It will fill your heart and expand your mind,” said Romney.
Three Honorary Doctorate degrees were awarded. Mitt Romney received an Honorary Doctorate of Business, Pamela J. Atkinson received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and the late Rebecca Lockhart was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law that was presented to her daughter, Hannah Lockhart.
At the end of the presentation, Holland informed Lockhart that she would be receiving an acceptance letter the next day into the UVU MBA program.
“Hannah, I just thought you would want to know that –along with 10,000 of your closest friends,” said Holland.
The graduates were presented to the audience and Holland ended the ceremony by saying, “Congratulations class of 2015. Now go get a job.”
Carrie is the Editor in Chief for the 2015-2016 school year.