UVU’s 76th commencement celebrates student success

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Henry Eyring of the LDS Church's First Presidency addresses graduates as part of the 2017 UVU Commencement.

Photo by: Gabi Campbell

On Thursday, 5,054 UVU students were conferred 5,310 degrees, diplomas and certificates at the 2017 Commencement ceremony held the UCCU center; four honorary degrees were presented to honored guests.

Henry Eyring, Keith Nellesen, Shirlee Silversmith and J. Brent Wood were presented with honorary doctorates in recognition of their work and service in various areas.

Eyring, who is a member of the presidency of the LDS church, also served as the commencement speaker and referenced many of his own experiences and development through education.

“’You think education is where you have been,’” Eyring said, quoting his father. “Education is what you can do. This university has, in its very DNA, the capacity to help people do things they thought were above and beyond their abilities.”

Eyring continued by emphasizing importance of sustained effort and believing that individuals can become better. He also expressed that belief and support from and for others is essential.

Holland spoke about the Roots of Knowledge addition to the UVU library, and he used several examples contained in the stained-glass art to underscore the value of education, perseverance and hope.

“Tonight is the night that you get to look back and see something far greater than the most beautifully woven tapestry or set of stained-glass windows,” Holland said. “You get to see a newly fashioned, human you. You may have come here with ordinary abilities. … I can tell you, you see with wider eyes and speak with clearer tongues. You think with more depth, and analyze with more clarity.”

Holland continued to highlight the importance of the graduates accomplishments and, more significantly, for all humankind.

Birch Eve, the student body president, spoke about pursuing goals and finding happiness not only in the achievement of goals, but also in the pursuit of them.

“I propose to you that happiness can be found in every, worthy pursuit,” Eve said. “I’ve found great happiness pursuing my education and even greater happiness pursuing my wife. If the pursuit of our happiness is our aim, then is it possible that happiness can be found in the very thing that we pursue and even in the pursuit itself? In my opinion, this is the very purpose of life.”

In addition to words of encouragement from the many speakers, security was a concern at the event. Numerous security personnel were posted and patrolling throughout the UCCU center. Holland mentioned efforts and delays associated with security measures in his opening remarks.

“I want to begin by expressing my appreciation for your patience this evening,” Holland said. “Unfortunately, the world in which we live invites new and unprecedented security measures here. Thank you for your understanding.”

It is unclear why there was a need for heightened security. University spokesperson and communication specialist Layton Shumway said that safety is always a concern when hosting large crowds.

“Events which draw large crowds frequently attract a certain amount of attention. After reviewing all available information regarding this week’s Commencement exercises, all parties involved agreed to raise the security level at the event to ensure the safety of our students, employees, guests and community. These efforts will continue at future events,” Shumway said.