The challenge facing each individual - a challenge that has not changed since the beginning of time - is to develop his or her own personality in order to find happiness and a sense of accomplishment, 7th District Judge Boyd Bunnell told graduates Friday during the College of Eastern Utah's 50th commencement.
Bunnell, who is a graduate of CEU and a former student body president, and Dr. Dominic Albo Jr. received honorary doctorates during the ceremony.Albo, another CEU graduate, is an associate professor of surgery at the University of Utah and president of the medical staff at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City.
CEU President Michael A. Petersen said 245 graduates received degrees or certificates during the ceremonies. The graduating class is the largest and most diverse to date, he said, and includes many non-traditional students.
Petersen said CEU is meeting its challenge to keep up with advancing technology by offering students of all ages the education they need to move from an industrial to an information-based society. Speaking briefly about budget cuts, Petersen said colleges are being asked to do more and more with less and less.
The three valedictorians are all non-traditional students who were out of school for several years before beginning college. Gerard McDonald, Krista Hurr Ogden and Ronalene Andersen Oman spoke briefly about the tremendous role that education is playing in their lives.
Todd Olsen, student body president, urged the graduates to look on commencement as a beginning rather than an ending - A beginning in which they will continue to support CEU, because the school's greatest battles have yet to be fought.
In his commencement address, Bunnell said we all face some limitations because of heredity and environment. "But life consists not simply of what heredity and environment do to us but what we make out of what they do to us.
"Robert Louis Stevenson had severe tuberculous, Helen Keller was blind and deaf and Beethoven went deaf and never heard many of his masterpieces," he said.
"Even though there are some things over which you have little control you create your own personality, a personality that will determine whether your life is filled with the sadness or heartbreak that I so often see in the courtroom, or a life filled with accomplishments and happiness," he said.
"I have convicted felons who stand before me for sentencing and in attempting to justify their actions they say, `When I was in Nam . . .' They always say Nam, not Vietnam."
"My response to that kind of excuse is that there were close to a million men who went to Vietnam and I'm sure many had worse experiences than you did. They do not do the things you do or act the way you act. There were several million men who fought World War II in Europe and Asia and they don't act the way you act or do the things you have done."
Bunnell told the graduates they are unique in the universe because they were born a self-conscious organism with capacity for memory, thoughtfulness, purposefulness and affection. Successfully organizing ourselves into a unified and efficient personality is one of the most difficult but the most essential task in human experience.
No amount of luck or external good fortune can bring abiding enjoyment to those with an unorganized personality, Bunnell said. Hour by hour we are fashioning what we will become and there is no means of flight, he said.
Since the beginning of time people have been faced with unequal circumstances and situations that seemed unfair, Bunnell said. There have been wars, up and down economic conditions, natural catastrophes and social injustice but many people have been able to handle life, reshape it, transform it and even rise above it.
On a personal note, Bunnell said he came to CEU not many years after it opened its doors. There has been a great transformation in physical facilities and the quality of instruction, he said, calling them superior by all methods of analysis.
He urged students to build on what they have been given during their college years.