Stephen Liddle, academic director of the Kevin and Debra Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, urged students to use their freedom of choice to gain a qualitative education and better the world on May 3, 2016 at BYU’s devotional.
At age 14, Stephen Liddle’s father bought a Heathkit H-89, a microcomputer kit that Liddle characterized as exciting in 1979 as today’s iPad. After building the computer with his father and brother, Liddle began to develop his lifelong love affair with programming
This passion for programming came partly because he could use his dominion to control the computer to do exactly what he wanted, something he couldn’t do to his siblings.
Liddle compared dominion in the computer programming world to dominion in the real world. He expressed his belief that righteous dominion, not evil domination, means having stewardship.
“We want to have influence, or in other words, power,” he said, explaining that students are attending BYU to learn how to become more influential. “Each one of us wants to change and bless the world in some way. To do that, we need knowledge, skills, and connections to opportunities.”
Liddle continued by saying that the way to gain influence is by striving to become more like the Savior, especially through individual efforts to gain pure knowledge.
He felt that students cramming for a test or seeking a quick solution on the internet does not entitle the student to the knowledge they could gain in their courses.
“We must earn it the way everyone else must — walking the path of long-suffering patience,” Liddle said about the principle of knowledge.
Liddle prompted students to recognize their agency in getting an education and reminded them of the aims of a BYU education. These goals promote education at the university to be spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, and leading to lifelong learning.
Students were reminded that the choice is theirs to reach these goals and they determine how their education will impact them.
“Is that what you will become, a difference maker, or will you be satisfied simply with making it through? It’s your choice,” he said. “What will you and I learn with our agency? What will we do with that learning?”
Liddle ended his speech by returning to the H-89 computer from his younger years. He indicated that his passion had led him to learn the laws of computer programming, causing him to develop a joy for learning.
“I pray that each one of us will be able to find joy in learning ‘without compulsory means.'”