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Geoffrey McAllister, Deseret News
Adam Paulukaitis and his wife, Wendy, help their son, James, get ready before walking to BYU's commencement Thursday at Marriott Center.

PROVO — Brigham Young University graduates were counseled to combine their education and hard work with simple principles to succeed in life.

"You will confirm that your education is a key to help you open the doors of opportunity," commencement speaker Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told 2,559 students receiving degrees Thursday.

"You will likewise prove that it is not, however, a guarantee for success. It must be coupled with hard work, consistency and devotion to duty."

Elder Scott also gave graduates and their families and friends in attendance a list of simple things drawn from the doctrine of Jesus Christ that he said has brought him and his family success throughout the years. The list included using correct principles, exercising faith, discipline, work, prayer and the power of a smile.

"Everyone has problems but no one wants to know about yours," he joked. "Smile a lot. It is a beautiful way to bring sunshine into your life and to spread it to the joy and benefit of others."

Before his remarks, Elder Scott received an honorary doctorate degree, a recognition that caused him to tear up as he thanked the university.

BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson also addressed the graduates, whose ages ranged from 19 to 82, telling them they will look back at their days on campus as some of the happiest of their lives.

Bruce L. Olsen, president of the BYU Alumni Association, reminded graduates of the long-standing tradition of success left behind by their predecessors. He welcomed them with a lifetime membership in the alumni family and issued a challenge.

"You leave this place sacred to you because of the academic and spiritual opportunities you have been afforded," he said. "You too carry the responsibility to add burnish to the name Brigham Young University. It now becomes your time to demonstrate to your employers, your graduate school professors, your business colleagues, your neighbors and your friends what a BYU education really means."

Graduates from all but one state were represented in the class, as well as from five U.S. territories and 61 foreign countries.

In her speech, Jessie Leatham Wirkus, of Mesa, Ariz., an honors graduate in English, put her time in Provo into perspective.

"Now it is time to go and do," she told her fellow graduates. "Much has been given here and much is required. I entered BYU scared to talk to people, overconfident in my intellectual abilities and convinced that I didn't need anyone else to succeed. I leave here humbled. I leave here acutely and thankfully aware of how crucial associates, colleagues and friends and family are to leading a successful and happy life."


E-mail: ethomas@desnews.com