Dean J. Scott Miller and graduate Alixa Brobbey addressed the graduating class of 2021 at the end-of-the-school-year celebration.
Dean J. Scott Miller welcomed humanities graduates to a special graduation broadcast on YouTube on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Due to concerns with COVID-19, the College of Humanities, along with the other colleges at BYU, opted for a virtual convocation.
Miller welcomed the graduates, along with their families and friends, and in a variation of what he typically likes to demonstrate during graduation, asked them to imagine “525 robed graduates sitting in front of [him].” Then, he asked them to imagine different groups rising as he asks those to stand who are from the Intermountain U.S., east of the Mississippi, another country, or those who know multiple languages.
In this theoretical situation, he then asked those to stand who originally planned on graduating in their chosen major. Only 65 would have stood. He said, “It comes as a surprise to some to learn that a vast majority of our graduates come to the humanities gradually, following a unique and personal path marked by distinct moments and experiences.”
Miller congratulated students and said, “By learning to see things anew, with a fresh perspective, you have fortified yourselves, intellectually and spiritually, to make a difference in the world. . . . May you, for the rest of your promising lives, continue to go forth every day, to see, to learn, and to become more human, and more humane.”
Alixa Brobbey, the student representative speaker for the convocation, then addressed her graduating class. Brobbey is graduating with a BA in English and will begin studying at the J. Reuben Clark Law School in the fall.
While the pandemic has created unforeseen circumstances for everyone, Brobbey wisely stated that “closed doors and missed opportunities” are simply a part of life. Months before COVID-19, Brobbey was excitedly preparing for an international internship, when the company suddenly discontinued the internship program for her planned semester. In that circumstance, Brobbey remembered one of her favorite quotes: “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”
The unexpected discontinuance of her internship led Brobbey to participate in extracurriculars that have shaped her present and her future, one of those being volunteering for the Pre-Law Review, which was a major factor in her decision to attend law school.
Brobbey closed her address by paying homage to all the subjects that humanities students are passionate about and mentioning impressive projects her peers have been involved in. “These unique skills give us the ability to find and crawl through the windows of life when doors are closed in our faces,” she said. “May we always have the courage and insight to do so.”
In lieu of a faculty address, the College of Humanities prepared a “Best of” reel, composed of some of the most wise and poignant advice given by faculty speakers at past commencements.
Links to department-specific replays of Convocation 2021 are available at humgraduation.byu.edu.
Congratulations to the College of Humanities graduating class of 2021!