Friday, April 22, 2011

Rise All Loyal Cougars

I'm not gonna lie...  I got this letter the other day, and it made me cry.

Dear Graduate:
On behalf of the College of Humanities, we in the deans' office express our congratulations on the occasion of your graduation. This is a significant accomplishment, and we are happy that you chose to purse a degree in the Humanities at Brigham Young University.  If we are doing our job properly, there is no better place to study nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples than in our College, where we have the opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty about the world and the people around us from the perspectives of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As you complete your education at BYU, you go out into a world that will challenge you in many ways.  We hope that we have helped prepare you, both intellectually and spiritually, for those challenges and that you will sense the opportunity and obligation you have to represent this university and our sponsoring Church with honor.
In your personal, professional, church, and civic lives you will have opportunities to demonstrate the careful reasoning, the tolerance, the humility, and the sense of values that lie at the heart of the humanities.  You should be less vulnerable to cheap rhetoric, more open to differing opinions, less enamored of your own capacities and possessions, and more committed to the Gospel and to the principles of right and virtue than are those who lack your background.
We are proud of you and your graduating class and believe that you will expand on the academic and moral education that you have received at Brigham Young University.  As you do, we too will be expanded, and this institution will become stranger and more mature.  The resources that you, the Church, and your families have expended in providing for your studies will be repaid through your service and faith.
May you remember with pride and pleasure the time you spent at Brigham Young University.
Today, I will walk across that stage and officially close the door on my BYU Career.  That may not seem like something all that important for some of you, but let me let you in on a little secret.

I dropped out of college in 2003.

Its a long story and I won't go into the details, sufficeth to say that I know what its like to fail.  I went through a lot of hard things, learned a lot of important lessons about myself, served a mission, learned a new language and decided to try again. It took all the courage in the world for me to stand up, brush myself off and try again.  I sincerely thought at times that it just wasn't in the cards for me to put my life back together, that I just wasn't one of those people who would finish college and go on to have careers. There were times when I couldn't believe in myself.  

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed: “It is not an easy thing … to be shown one’s weaknesses. … Nevertheless, this is part of coming unto Christ, and it is a vital, if painful, part of God’s plan of happiness.” 

The challenging process of facing and overcoming our weaknesses can refine us, make us more profitable servants, and bring us closer to the Savior. Through this whole endeavor, I have learned that the Lord knows me better than I know myself.  Sometimes I think I am weak.  He knows better.  I have learned (through running, school and the like) that I am only as weak as I think I am.  Which adversely means that I am only as STRONG as I think I am.  Jumping this hurdle has taught me that I am strong, and that I have a lot to offer.

I am so glad that I had to go through what I have been through.  And I am so glad that this trial is over.  I am excited for the new chapter in my life, and excited at the prospect of helping my students get through what I have been through.  I know that the Lord blesses us with trials so that we in turn can help others through the same things.

You better believe my kids will wake up every morning to me singing the fight song.  I am so proud of where I have come from and where I am going.
Plus I get to wear this hat.


  1. Congrats jody! You're the best visiting teacher and friend anyone could ask for!!!!! Te quiero mucho

  2. Congratulations Jody! I've still have a least another year here and things have been really hard for me too. Hearing about your graduation gives me hope that I can be there one day too. I'm so glad we were able to meet with Mr. BYU last year. Best of luck as you go forth to serve; I'm rooting for you.