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College of Eastern Utah graduates were told Friday to use their intellectual abilities to create order and structure out of seeming chaos, pursuing a well-defined goal, but also to appreciate the diversity of human experience.

Scott Matheson Jr., the U.S. attorney for Utah, was commencement speaker for the CEU ceremony, which saw nearly 400 graduates awarded their diplomas.Matheson had another message for the graduates: "You will not redeem the full promise of your education without a sense of purpose and moral courage."

He used the U.S. civil rights movement as an example, citing how committed intellectuals such as attorney Thurgood Marshall and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren were able to begin reversing centuries of legalized discrimination with carefully reasoned arguments in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case.

That landmark case overturned the "separate but equal" legal foundation of discrimination, Matheson said.

"History shows how critically important it is to have an educated society, a society with individuals who can think and speak for themselves and who are willing to do so.

"This is the only antidote for entrenched orthodoxy that finds expression in institutions and practices which, without effective challenge, can stifle freedom and stall progress," Matheson said.

Concluding, Matheson told the graduates, "You have the capacity to be able thinkers but your educational accomplishments will be incomplete if you fail to combine them with a sense of purpose in what you do and the moral courage to do what you think is right.

"As important as knowledge and reason may be, follow your heart in making life choices. Follow your dreams. Remember your values, those values that brought you here, and that will take you through life's challenges," Matheson said.

In addition to Matheson, speakers at CEU's 56th commencement ceremony included co-valedictorians Jennifer Moore and Debra Guymon Oveson; co-salutatorians Aimee Dawn Oveson and Bonnie Jean Bird; and student body president Jeff Jordan.

Diplomas were presented by Utah Board of Regents members Aileen H. Clyde and Douglas S. Foxley.