BYU on Thursday kicked off two days of diverse college invitations with a virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate the more than 6,000 graduates who will graduate this session.
Graduates, including those who will graduate in the summer, include 5,572 undergraduate students, 983 master’s students and 208 doctoral students.
Graduates come from 49 states, with Vermont being the only unrepresented state, and 66 foreign countries.
President Kevin J Worthen started the virtual ceremony with a somewhat timely story about the Wham-O Super Ball. After sympathizing with the Frisbee and the Hula Hoop, the Super Ball was introduced in 1964, extending bounce time and becoming a very popular product at the time.
The synthetic rubber material the bullet was made of allowed for a high coefficient of restitution, a measure Worthen said some call resilience or resilience.
While synthetic rubber had certain limitations, the material was not very durable before Wham-O formed the ball with great pressure to make it last longer.
“A lot of you graduates maybe felt like a Super Ball last year,” Worthen said at the start. “Thrown at high speed, drastically changing direction and feeling like the bounce would never end. It has been a tumultuous year, but like the Super Ball you have been tough and enduring. This resilience and durability is mainly due to the material you are made of. Who you are, who you are, and what skills and talents you have developed and honed during your time at BYU.
He added that like the Super Ball, the resilience and sustainability of the students is a result of the challenges they have faced this school year.
While that pressure and temperature isn’t pleasant, Worthen says, it can be formative and reinforcing.
Worthen went on to discuss the word super and its versatility in many different languages. The use of the word has seen its ups and downs over time, but it has persisted and shown resilience and durability.
He then conferred on the 2021 promotion the title of “Super Graduates”.
“You have earned this title by being resilient, sustainable and adaptable throughout a global pandemic that has affected this university more than any other health crisis in our lives,” said Worthen.
The keynote speaker was Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gong began his speech by declaring that the feelings of celebration, relief, excitement, anticipation and gratitude that accompany any BYU graduation ceremony are “more real than ever.”
He even suggested that these feelings could be heightened if people celebrated the debut in their own spaces.
In congratulating the 2021 class, Gong focused on six different classifications of graduates. These included those who are first-generation college graduates, those who worked on campus, those who were part of high-impact practices, those who pursued educational and professional dreams, those who laughed, cried and served, and those of the campus community that is built on BYU’s values.
According to Gong’s speech, 12% of the class involved first generation students, depending on the class, about 40% to 60% worked on campus, 76% of graduates participated in two or more high impact practices, and BYU has the highest percentage of students attending after acceptance.
“Please continue to be good so that you can do the most good, whatever your circumstances, wherever you are,” said Gong.
While the main launch ceremony was celebrated on Thursday, it is available to stream on BYUtv for about a month, according to the BYU website. For more information on individual college invitations, which are also celebrated virtually, visit inscription.byu.edu/registrar/convocations.