Elder Rasband counsels BYU grads on life beyond the classroom


The graduates of August 2013 gathered in the Marriott Center yesterday to hear the words of Elder Ronald A. Rasband, senior president of the Quorum of the Seventy, for the summer commencement.

Elder Rasband, President of the Quorums of the Seventy. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Elder Rasband, President of the Quorums of the Seventy. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

“There is a reason this day is called ‘commencement.’ You now embark on a new life,” said Elder Rasband to the crowd graduates, their families and friends. “Your degree is much more than an honor hanging on the wall or a memory to recall with perhaps a sigh of relief. It is a statement that you have persevered and achieved knowing that your purpose here fits into the Lord’s plan for your life.”

Elder Rasband continued by recreating some of his major life decisions. He said he first had to

select which college to attend, adding that he had always wanted to attend BYU. He mentioned he had worked more than he had studied in high school and did not have the grades or finances to attend. But he was happy to say his five children went to BYU.

So he attended the University of Utah were he could live at home, work locally and attend school. While in school he met his wife Melanie Twitchell, whom he married in the Salt Lake Temple.

Another life-changing event he explained happened when he was the Elders Quorum president for his ward.

“I met who would be my future employer and partner, Jon Huntsman; he was my high council advisor while I was serving as Elders Quorum president.”

He went on to explain, one day Huntsman invited him to his business office for a meeting. In that meeting, Huntsman invited him to join his company in marketing and sales. Elder Rasband said he had only one year left until he graduated when he was offered the position. Huntsman said it was now or not at all.

He and his wife prayed and discussed and they decided, with the help of the Lord, to take the job and forgo completing his degree.

“Perhaps now you can understand why today is such a special, memorable day for me,” Elder Rasband said wholeheartedly. “Since those early feelings of wishing I could attend BYU to this very day, now standing here at commencement; it is a dream come true!”

Elder Rasband then talks of Matthew 14 and how the disciples went out on the rocky seas while Christ went up into a mountain to pray. He compared this New Testament chapter to the graduates’ upcoming new lives.

“In the coming stages of your life you will feel the boat rocking under you, no matter your preparation or your sheer goodness. Recognize the turbulence for what it is. The Lord allows us to have challenges that at times will feel like tsunamis, to make us strong and effective in His service and to help us always turn to him.”

The graduates at the Summer Commencement. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
The graduates at the Summer Commencement. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

He recounted how the Lord walked on the sea toward his disciples and Christ bid Peter to come out to him. He explained how Peter obeyed and walked on the sea, but when he took his eyes off the Lord and looked at the rolling waves he began to sink. Elder Rasband went on to remind the audience how Peter called out to the Lord and the Lord stretched forth His hand and saved him.

Elder Rasband said the graduates are similar to Peter in this situation.

“The Lord will call you to places and positions you would have never expected,” said Elder Rasband to the graduates. He continued his counsel saying that the Lord will always be there to stretch forth His hand when He is called upon.

Elder Rasband closed with his testimony and encouraged the graduates to rely on the Lord. “Be ‘strong and of good courage’ even when the waves come and the dam breaks. … The next stages of your life can be richly rewarding.”

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