President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivered the commencement address at Utah’s Dixie State College on Friday, 6 May 2011. He also received an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities.
President Monson was invited to deliver the address to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of St. George Stake Academy by the Church, which eventually became Dixie State College.
“It is a little disturbing to realize that Dixie College had existed only 16 years when I was born,” said President Monson. “For that reason, I am confident that my 100 years’ measurement is considerably shorter than yours.”
President Monson began his address by recounting how the late Larry H. Miller, successful Utah business magnate and owner of the Utah Jazz, gave him a sculpture that now sits in his office. The sculpture is based on a poem called “The Bridgebuilder,” by Will Allen Dromgoole.
“The first bridge I wish to build for you is the bridge of attitude,” said President Monson. “Attitude can make all the difference in our lives, and we control our attitude. It can make us miserable or happy, content or dissatisfied. To a great degree, it can make us strong or weak,” he said.
The second bridge, he told the graduating class, was integrity.
“Perhaps the surest test of an individual’s integrity is his or her refusal to do or say anything to damage his or her self-respect,” he said. “The cornerstone of one’s value system should be the question, “What will I think of myself if I do this?”
President Monson concluded with his third bridge: service. “There are opportunities to serve which are open to everyone. The blind and the handicapped need friendship; the aged are hungry for companionship; the young need understanding guidance; the gifted are starved for encouragement. These benefits can’t be conferred by reaching for your checkbook. Personal service is direct and human,” he said.
President Monson told the graduates their lives would be fuller, richer and happier if they looked for opportunities to serve. He left them with this sage advice: “Graduates, as you journey forward to meet the challenges life holds for you, remember as you walk over the bridge of attitude to choose happiness for yourself. That happiness will mean little unless you have learned to walk sure-footedly on the bridge of integrity where, at the end of the day, you can face yourself and know that you have been honest and true.”