Snow College Commencement

Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
April 30, 2005
Governor Huntsman Commencement Announcement

Thank you President Benson for the very kind introduction. It is a great privilege and high honor for me to be here today to address the Snow College graduating Class of 2005.

I appreciate the Board of Trustees, led by Chairman John Wilmore, for extending an invitation to address you today. It is great to be here in Ephraim.

A special word of acknowledgement is due to your fine president and my close personal friend, Michael Benson. President Benson - as all of you know - is a tireless advocate for Snow College. He is an effective administrator, a notable scholar and a zealous fundraiser.

I am joined here today by a few state legislators. Snow College and the residents of Juab, Millard and Sanpete counties were fortunate a few months ago when Snow College Vice President Rick Wheeler was elected to the legislature. He too is a hardworking and effective advocate for Snow College students, faculty and staff. Also serving with Vice President Wheeler in the Utah House of Representatives is the longtime Chair of the Snow College Board of Trustees, Scott Wyatt from Cache County.

As students at Snow College, you have been fortunate to attend college in a truly beautiful environment. Nestled between historic U.S. Highway and the Wasatch Mountains, Snow College is a quality school in a warm and hospitable community. This rural setting reminds me of an inspiring story.

There was once a new Snow student from Salt Lake City who moved to Ephraim to attend school. He got an apartment on the other side of town and walked to class each day. One morning, his alarm went off late and he knew he wouldn't make it on time unless he took a shortcut. He spied a big field and realized if he cut though it, he would get to class. Not wanting to be rude, he first approached the farmer and asked if he could cross his field.

"Sir, if I don't use your field as a shortcut this morning, I'll be late for Dr. Gardner's 9:30 a.m. Biology class."
The kindly Ephraim farmer took pity on this young man and said, "Sure, go ahead and cut through my field. And son, here's some really good news for you. Once my Hereford bull sees you, you'll be able to make it for most of Dr. Gardner's 8:30 a.m. class as well."

To the graduating students of 2005, let me begin by congratulating you. In the immortal words of U2's lead singer, Bono, "It's a beautiful day. Don't let it slip away." This is a special day that you will always remember. But unlike Bono's magic words, I am under no illusions that you will remember anything I say.

Indeed, I have been told that commencement speakers bear certain parallels to the corpse at a viewing. You are needed for the ceremony, but no one expects much from you.

Your mark of academic accomplishment bears witness to the contribution of a most special community - your parents; earlier teachers who inspired you; professors who shared their learning; coaches who taught character as well as technique; alumni who sustain this society of scholarship; friends whom you will cherish and carry with you for life. They listened and helped and were part of your family away from home.

One of my favorite American heroes is Benjamin Franklin. He taught us and gave us many things. He was a scientist, writer, soldier, diplomat, printer, essayist, and even a meteorologist. The steady undercurrent throughout his 80-year life was the value of education. In that spirit, he encouraged all students to learn "everything that is useful and everything that is ornamental." Put succinctly, Ben Franklin held firmly to the ideal - which lives on today - that an educated person is not just one with information - he or she has a discriminatory mind and an ability to learn how to learn all of one's life.

The same point can be made in a way you might more readily understand:

The cost of tuition for a semester: $ 747 dollars
The costs of text books for a semester: $ 275 dollars
The value of a Snow College education: Priceless!

When you arrived in Ephraim a few years ago, you came from across town, across the state of Utah, from all over the United States and from many foreign nations. From those diverse backgrounds you became one student body.

Now that you are receiving your diplomas, you join the ranks of Snow College graduates. You can be proud of where you came from and the education you received. One request I'll make of you is that years from now when people ask you where you went to college, remember to make Snow College part of your response.

On a personal note, the Huntsman side of our family is from Fillmore. For generations we lived and worked in that great, nearby community. On Sunday mornings, some of us filled the pews at the local church. On the Saturday night before, others ran the family saloon. We hunted up the canyons and fished nearby streams. We still call Fillmore home. My association with people in that great town formed a key part of my childhood. It is a part of my DNA. When people ask where I was raised, I say California and Salt Lake City. When they say where is your family from, I reply with pride: "Fillmore." Likewise, I hope you feel the same affinity for Snow College and Ephraim, Utah.

Many of you are likely to continue on with your higher education. If you go on to graduate from Utah State, I hope someday you'll say with pride that that you went to Snow College and Utah State; if you go on to Southern Utah University, tell everyone you graduated from Snow College and SUU. If you head on to Stanford, or Harvard, or Oxford, like President Benson, be sure to note that your higher education began at Snow College. Wherever you go in life, whatever you do, be proud that your most formative college years were spent among friends and scholars at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. Let everyone know by word and deed that you will always be a badger at heart.

As you continue on in your educational and occupational pursuits, I encourage you to always show compassion for our fellow human beings. Sometimes we forget the most important ingredient in life is also perhaps the simplest, and most elusive - to love and respect others.

There are many wonderful examples of students and faculty who have provided selfless service to others while here at Snow College. Let me highlight just a few of these individuals for you.

Eleesha Moulton is the president of the campus Service Club. She and many of her classmates joined together to promote the Shop-with-a-Cop program, soup night, blood drives and food drives.

Lulu Latu organized the campus luau. As a leader of the Polynesian club, she has done much to teach others about her culture and keep valuable and honored traditions alive.

Yasutaka Morita is a student who came to Snow College on the way to Japan. He has worked diligently in the Snow College mailroom and has delivered mail to everyone on campus. He was elected to serve as a student senator. He will continue to provide service to his faith when he begins service as a church missionary in - of all places - Japan.

Dr. Boyd Beck is probably one of the most beloved people on campus. As a chemistry professor he has helped bring the sciences to life for thousands of students. As a scholar, he has helped expand the reaches of our knowledge with literally dozens of patents. He teaches because he loves students. He is known as a kind and generous man who has become a father figure to so many. He serves - and because he serves - the lives of so many others are enhanced.

Service is a very personal aspect of one's life and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Always remember that you can do well for yourself … and for others. Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, made an interesting observation worth repeating. He said, "He that wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own."

I commend graduating students like Yasutaka Morita, Eleesha Moulton, and Lulu Latu, and professors like Dr. Beck who have already learned this important lesson and are blessing the lives of others with the service they render.

If Amazon had been in business a century ago, the students at Snow might have ordered a book by Norman Angell titled "The Great Illusion." It was a worldwide best seller, and Angell later won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Angell's popular book maintained that new, complex financial and commercial interdependence made war useless and unlikely in the modern era. Regrettably, he was wrong.

In 1899, the German biologist Ernst Haeckel published a book, "The Riddle of the Universe," that maintained that the fantastic scientific innovations of the early 20th Century also made war impossible. Wrong again.

David Starr Jordan, the influential president of the recently endowed Stanford University, maintained, "the Great War of Europe, ever threatening … will never come." That was in 1913.

In June 1914, a terrorist's bullet in Sarajevo pushed Europe over the edge into a new dark age. The hopeful prospects of 100 years ago were overwhelmed by the dangerous side of the early 20th Century - imperialism, fascism, authoritarianism, communism, corporatism, isolationism, and protectionism.

We learned anew that ideas can lead to cruelties and tragedies: wars, depression, mass starvation, genocide and economic disasters.

In effect, it took the second half of the 20th Century to recover the degree of economic openness the world lost in the first half of that century.

We are now five years into the start of a new century. Again, it is an age of great innovation - in communications, computing, biotechnology, miniaturization, and more.

This is the world you will help to shape. As you do, do it with love and respect for your fellow human beings and a driving compassion to be your very best.

I would state unequivocally to each of you today that you will never find maximum happiness until you can effectively make a difference in the life of another person. Think about it every day. So many people need help, encouragement, or simply hope. You are now in a position to respond in such a positive and dramatic way. Albert Einstein said it best when he stated, "Only a life lived for others is worth living."

Here are a few steps I have followed that have helped me learn and progress.

First - try new things. You will learn from your endeavors, and while you will make mistakes, it is only by making mistakes that you truly learn. Never fear failure. As the author and essayist Joseph Campbell has said, "Where you stumble, there lies your treasure." And remember, while Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, he also struck out more than 1,300 times.

Second - be sure to enjoy yourself. Life is not a race - unless you are in politics. Sure, some people insist on always being in the fast lane. But that is a sure-fire way to miss the scenery of your youth as it passes you by. And you'll find out over time that age matters less than experience. Don't be afraid to take some time off and do something you'd never have the opportunity to do at any other time in your life. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become. Also, try to maintain a sense of humor along with a sense of perspective. Mark Twain once said that 99% of the things he worried about never happened but the other 1% that did was far worse than he had ever imagined.

Three - never give up. Sooner or later, all of you are going to face rejection. Trust me - I've been there. But here's something I've also learned: You can achieve a lot in life by continuing to work for what you want. Some of the happiest, most successful people I know got their start after being turned down for a job and then a few days, or a few weeks later returned to the employer and asked to be considered again. Do you know how many people do that? Almost none. Sometimes you have to ask more than once. And sometimes asking isn't enough. But initiative and persistence are powerful things.

Indeed, someone who embodied these qualities in another era was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1940 he spoke at a commencement address similar to the one being held here in Ephraim. With war waging in Europe, and crimes against humanity being committed on a daily basis, President Roosevelt tailored his comments to the ominous time in which he was living. But contained within his address was a stirring call to service that is as relevant today as it was 65 years ago: "The times call for bold relief," he said, "that the world can be changed by man's endeavor, and that this endeavor can lead to something better … If democracy is to survive, it is the task of men of thought, as well as men of action, to put aside pride and prejudice … and to find truth and teach the truth that shall keep men free."

I want to close by saying to all members of the Snow College Class of 2005, congratulations on a job well done. And I remind you that your work is far from done. As Benjamin Franklin said, "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing."

And always remember, in the word of U2's Bono -

"It's a beautiful day - don't let it slip away."