A Letter from the President to Graduates

Dear BYU-Idaho Graduate:

On behalf of the BYU-Idaho community, I congratulate you on your recent graduation. I had hoped to gather with you in the BYU-Idaho Center on April 9, as originally scheduled. But circumstances beyond our control made that impossible. We still plan to hold a virtual commencement ceremony as soon as conditions allow; we’ll let you know the date and details as soon as possible. Also, you’re invited to participate in any subsequent in-person graduation ceremony, perhaps as early as July 22.

This wasn’t the way we wanted things to work out. I didn’t envision the scope of the economic crisis created by the current pandemic. Only a few months ago, the global economy was at full strength. Now, though, companies and other large employers are furloughing and laying off workers. As you know, relatively few are hiring.

We can’t be sure how long these conditions will last, but there is reason to hope. The strict measures taken to prevent the spread of disease are showing encouraging effects. President Nelson, who is both a prophet and an accomplished physician, has declared his optimism. Sooner or later, this crisis will pass.

In the meantime, I encourage you to join in President Nelson’s optimism. One way to do that is to imagine the possibility of finding silver linings in the clouds of economic downturn.

I wasn’t emotionally or intellectually prepared to do that when I graduated from college in the summer of 1985. My plan had been to receive admission to the Harvard Business School’s MBA program, from which my father graduated; that had been my dream since boyhood. Thus, when the thin rejection letter came, I was devastated.

My bachelor’s degree was in geology, typically a well-paying field. But the price of oil was falling like a rock, just as it is doing now. Professional geologists were being laid off in droves. The major energy companies weren’t hiring—especially not brand-new college graduates. I felt trapped, even betrayed. Six months after marrying Sister Eyring, I wondered how we would provide for ourselves.

At the time, it didn’t occur to me that heaven was somehow preparing a path for us, not just a good one, but a better one than I could imagine. It took me a while to get out of the emotional dumps, yet with time I began to remember the beauty of the world and feel the encouragement of the Holy Ghost. Another way was opened. And it turned out to be a better one than I had hoped for originally.

I must confess that life since college graduation hasn’t been an unbroken series of broad, sunlit opens. There have been lengthy, trying periods when I wanted to pull my hair out (but couldn’t, of course).  Yet I’ve become a believer in a maxim President Henry B. Eyring learned from his Harvard Business School roommate George Montgomery. When George was asked how his life was going, he would invariably reply, “Peaks and valleys, but the trend is up.”

The trend will be upward for you. President Eyring has prophesied that you will be a natural leader, legendary for your capacity to build the people around you and to add value wherever you serve. At the moment, we’re in a valley. But it is temporary, and you have been trained to climb. I look forward to seeing you high on the mountain before long. You’ll be lifting those below toward our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ.

With deepest appreciation and admiration,

Henry J. Eyring



First published: 2020/04/14 @ 1:57 PM