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UVU: 70th Annual Commencement - 2011

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Published on May 9, 2011

In celebrating Utah Valley University's largest ever graduating class during its 70th Commencement on Friday, UVU President Matthew S. Holland exhorted the newly minted graduates to plan and to act now in order to accomplish great endeavors in their professional and personal lives.

With a record number of 4,325 graduates receiving degrees, President Holland, said that though graduates enter a world of uncertainty, they should not put off daring to dream and achieve because the tasks and challenges seem insurmountable or the timing isn't ideal.

"Do not wait for perfectly rosy times to start and sustain new professional ventures, to continue your education, to get married and begin a family, to make a community contribution or to find personal peace and happiness. To do so would be to put off those crucial aims indefinitely," he said. "My dear students, whatever you may be facing once you leave this hall of celebration today, or whatever you may face down the road, go forward with vision and vigor. There will be power in your actions, power that will change the very atmosphere that now makes successful action look so daunting. You can do it."

Quoting the author C.S. Lewis, who spoke to his English students during the dark days of WWII, Holland said, "... The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come."

Robert C. Gay, co-founder and CEO of Huntsman Gay Global Capital, a microfinance philanthropist and the commencement's featured speaker, recalled how his own father lifted himself up out of meager circumstances to become a successful world business leader and humanitarian. He encouraged graduates to use their knowledge, talent and skills to positively affect the lives of others.

A notable philanthropist is his own right, Gay is engaged in a large body of humanitarian efforts around the world, including extending microloans to residents in developing countries to provide opportunity. Retelling a story of how he stopped to help a poor orphan boy in Africa while en route to a critical meeting, Gay said the most important thing we can do is open our hearts and decide to act to help others.

"Each and every one of you can make a difference. That was (my father's) lesson," he said. "Great responsibilities come with this opportunity."

Gay and longtime friends of UVU, Joan Dixon and Hal Wing, were presented with honorary doctorates.

In total, the University presented 81 certificates of completion, 1,906 associate degrees, 2,418 bachelor degrees and 25 master degrees during commencement and convocation events held Friday among UVU's seven colleges and schools.

UVU's 2011 graduates represent a host of foreign countries and all 50 U.S. states and several territories, and are comprised of a multitude of ethnicities and backgrounds. The total number of graduates hailing from Utah is 3,666. The youngest graduate is 17 and the oldest is 72.

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