The peace, unity embodied at BYU–Hawaii is a miracle graduates must spread throughout the world

Those who lament the polarization of modern society should ‘spend a day at BYU–Hawaii,’ Elder Ringwood tells graduates.

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BYU–Hawaii graduates celebrate outside the Cannon Activities Center following commencement on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Laie, Hawaii. | Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

By Rachel Sterzer Gibson On a warm but overcast morning in Laie, Hawaii, Brigham Young University–Hawaii awarded degrees to 380 graduates from 23 countries during commencement exercises on April 19.

In his remarks, Elder Michael T. Ringwood, a General Authority Seventy, acknowledged the many nations represented by the graduating class: from Australia to Mongolia, China to Samoa, India to South Korea.

BYU–Hawaii graduates celebrate outside the Cannon Activities Center following commencement exercises held on the Laie, Hawaii, campus on Friday, April 19, 2024. Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

“What an amazing diversity of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives,” Elder Ringwood said.

While many graduates may not have known anyone from most of those countries when they began their studies, they are now classmates, fellow graduates and friends, said Elder Ringwood, who offered the keynote address for Friday’s commencement. “In the spirit of aloha — which is simply a manifestation of the Spirit of Christ — you have welcomed each other, learned from each other, and lifted each other above manmade boundaries. When people lament the polarization of modern society — the bitterness and racism and tribalism — I wish they could come spend a day at BYU–Hawaii.”

He then added, “You are a miracle that simply must spread throughout the world.”

In welcoming graduates along with their family and friends and others within the campus community gathered in the Cannon Activities Center, BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III noted that “diversity and unity work together here in remarkable ways.”

The purpose of the university is to provide a capstone experience for students of Oceania and the Asian Rim and to prepare students to be lifelong disciples of Christ who can continue to be leaders and examples of peace and unity, President Kauwe said.

BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III, second from left, and Elder Michael T. Ringwood, a General Authority Seventy, middle, and his wife, Sister Rosalie Ringwood, right, pose for a photo with graduates following commencement exercise in Laie, Hawaii, on April 19, 2024. | Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

“This university is, and will continue to be, a place where people from across the world gather to be one in Christ and educate and uplift each other.”

In addition to remarks by Elder Ringwood and President Kauwe, the proceedings included an address by R. Kelly Haws, assistant to the commissioner of the Church Educational System, and Shareef Basan, a graduate from the Philippines who took part in the university’s IWORK program.

In welcoming graduates along with their family and friends and others within the campus community gathered in the Cannon Activities Center, BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III noted that “diversity and unity work together here in remarkable ways.”

The purpose of the university is to provide a capstone experience for students of Oceania and the Asian Rim and to prepare students to be lifelong disciples of Christ who can continue to be leaders and examples of peace and unity, President Kauwe said. “This university is, and will continue to be, a place where people from across the world gather to be one in Christ and educate and uplift each other.”

In addition to remarks by Elder Ringwood and President Kauwe, the proceedings included an address by R. Kelly Haws, assistant to the commissioner of the Church Educational System, and Shareef Basan, a graduate from the Philippines who took part in the university’s IWORK program.

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