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BYU students hail life of Pres. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson was honored Friday by Brigham Young University students and student leaders for a life of service to the LDS Church, the community and university.

But in presenting the Exemplary Manhood Award to President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, student body president Dallin M. Anderson placed emphasis on some of the church leader's other qualities that he said have impressed students."One is that you are very personal with people and show a great love for individuals and especially children. Your smile and your humor are a wonderful example and appreciated. And your zest for life points all of us to a more realistic and human perspective about the church and church service," Anderson said at a luncheon gathering of school officials and student leaders in the Ambassador Room of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City.

President Monson, who was accompanied by his wife, Frances, visited with each of the students before and after the luncheon, inquiring about their studies, hometowns, missionary experiences and other topics. Anderson presented a carved stone statuette of a cougar and two cubs to President Monson.

In accepting the gift, President Monson commented on his interest in wildlife, noting that cougars are "pretty tough." Then smiling, he said he hopes the BYU Cougars will have the same kind of "stamina and determination to eliminate (their) opponent - not physically" on the football field Saturday. The Cougars play Texas Christian University at Cougar Stadium in Provo.

The Exemplary Manhood Award was first given in 1959 and alternates with the Exemplary Womanhood Award each year. It is given, Anderson said, to those who "embody the Christ-like principles and values upon which BYU and the church are founded." Also, recipients are selected for "exemplary service to their church, community and the university."

President Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, are among past recipients. Sister Hinckley was presented the Exemplary Womanhood Award last year. Other honorees have included business and political leaders.

On Thursday, Anderson noted that President Monson had dedicated the vast majority of his life to full-time church service. He said it shows "an impressive commitment to the gospel and to the Savior."

He said President Monson has been active in many community organizations. Of particular importance to BYU students, he said, is "your service to the university" as a member of the executive committee,, the Board of Trustees and the Church Board of Education.

"We want to thank you for your service to the students of Brigham Young University," he said.

Continuing, he said, "We appreciate your inspiring speeches and most particularly, your wonderful example to the gospel. (We recognize) your example of what it means to be a man - and more particularly, a man of Christ."

President Monson thanked the students for the honor, saying he's always pleased to hear sportscasters and others comment on the beauty of the BYU campus. But he said he's especially pleased to receive letters commending the quality of young people who attend BYU.

He encouraged the students to enjoy and to live life to the fullest.

"It's a great time of your life. Don't daydream about tomorrow. Don't (moan) about yesterday but live in today and always be your best self."

He told the student leaders that they are "truly ambassadors for the Lord."