Accounting professor Melissa Larson speaks on the process of personal transformation

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Melissa Larson, a teaching professor in the School of Accountancy, delivers her devotional address. Larson taught that relying on teachings from Heavenly Father, seeking help from loved ones and mentors, leaders and teachers are pivotal in finding guidance and joy throughout transformative experiences. (Payton Pingree)

Melissa Larson, a teaching professor in the School of Accountancy, delivered a message about the transformational process of life in a devotional address to the BYU community in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, May 16.

Larson began by sharing experiences from her personal academic journey. She explained she grew up with a love for education and determination to succeed in school, including graduating from a university. However, she faced her first major challenge when she started BYU’s accounting program.

“As I walked into the accounting orientation that first day of class, the atmosphere felt tense and I immediately found myself struggling with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt,” Larson said. “To cope with the apprehension, I relied on my academic game plan: attend class, do the homework and get good grades.”

She explained that BYU has a unique mission “to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.” Through students’ academic journeys at BYU, they have the opportunity to become strengthened by their experiences with help from the Savior, Larson taught.

“Throughout our lives, we will inevitably face difficult challenges, both great and small, that are intended to test our faith, character and resilience,” Larson said. “These experiences will help us become more like our Savior and prepare us for the eternal life to come, if we allow it.”

A student’s perspective is vital in this transformational process, according to Larson. She shared that students must focus on learning from others around them instead of constantly comparing themselves.

“Comparison is pointless,” Larson said. “God doesn’t compare us to each other. Instead he wants us to use our differences to bless and sustain one another.”

Larson compared this transformation process to the life cycle of a butterfly, which goes through multiple stages of growth to form a new body structure and transform into a beautiful butterfly.

“Like a butterfly, we are here on earth to grow, change and be ultimately reborn as a perfected being,” Larson said.

Larson continued by sharing a story of her second son, Connor, who struggled to adjust to life on his mission in El Salvador. She explained that Connor found three things that helped him through this transformative phase of his life: reading conference talks, talking with his older brother who had already served a mission and visiting with his mission president.

Larson asked those in attendance what they can do to shift their focus on Jesus Christ when they are not experiencing joy or “feel like you are just surviving.”

She explained that through relying on teachings from Heavenly Father, seeking help from loved ones and mentors, leaders and teachers are pivotal in finding guidance and joy throughout transformative experiences.

Student should not hesitate to reach out to others in times of challenge and uncertainty — BYU specifically has faculty, staff and administrators who work to serve and encourage students, according to Larson.

“Students, if you are struggling, please know that you are experiencing the transformational experiences of mortal life,” Larson said. “You are good enough, and with the support of your peers, friends, family, teachers, leaders and especially your Heavenly Father, you will come out of your difficult times having changed for the better.”

Larson told the audience that, although difficult, her personal collegiate experience led her to discover her “purpose, potential and identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ and a Child of God.” She expressed that a student’s time at BYU is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.

“A BYU education is meant to transform you completely — to help you become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Larson said.

Larson ended her devotional address with her testimony.

“By relying on the strength and comfort that our savior offers us, we can move through transformational experiences with greater patience, peace and confidence,” Larson said.

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