SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh alumni from LDS Business College were met by a bright day Friday, indicative of their futures, after the school’s 126th commencement exercises.
Graduates hailed from the United States and 60 countries, and the college awarded 549 degrees to 335 students, giving out 362 two-year degrees and 187 certificates to graduates at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
J. Lawrence Richards, president of LDS Business College, presented Shaka M. Kariuki, with this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the school's highest honor.
“Brother Kariuki exemplifies all that is good about our graduates,” Richards said.
This award goes to a former student who had an outstanding record with the school and has since excelled.
Kariuki attended the LDS Business College from 1991-93. He went on to get a bachelor's degree in economics from BYU, where he also earned his master’s degree in business administration. He also earned a master’s in government from Harvard.
He is currently a partner and co-chief investment officer at Kuramo Capital in New York. He is also a board member of the Ouelessebougou Alliance, an organization that focuses on West African rural health, education and economic development, is chairman of Deseret First Credit Union and a member of the Marriott School of Management’s advisory board.
“In accepting this award today for what I have already done, I pledge to you, I am not done yet. My life’s goal is to continue to emulate the principles I learned 20 years ago at this college so 20 years from now when any of you hear my name, you will smile, think good thoughts and know that I am striving to carry forward the torch handed to me from the college,” he said.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also addressed graduates as this year’s keynote speaker.
"Success in life is a matter of degrees," Elder Clayton told graduates several times throughout his address. “You will need to be wise as you go forward. Life will throw choices at you. Some will be obviously good and others equally obviously poor. However, often the choices you will confront will be harder to discern.”
Obedience to God’s commandments is the “one way to find fulfillment and peace in this life,” he said. He warned graduates that similar to success, big mistakes do not happen all at once. Rather, they happen by degrees.
“After a few weeks or months or years, small lapses in good habits and small departures from obedience weaken other good personal practices and habits.”
As an example of this, Elder Clayton talked about some who had made mistakes while managing other people’s money. They had grown accustomed to more lavish lifestyles during prosperous economic times. When the economy took a downward turn, some borrowed investors' money without their knowledge, rationalizing that they would pay it back when finances improved. They did not pay it back, and after a while had borrowed so much that they could not pay it back.
What began as poor choices grew in severity and culminated in these individuals making “catastrophic decisions” to keep investors in the dark, he said.
“Being just a degree off course can become a life-changing problem. Just a degree, a single degree, over time can make a huge difference.”
Those who consistently follow the commandments and “stay on the straight and narrow path have lives that work out well,” Elder Clayton said. He added that they are trusted and respected, serve in their communities and have righteous families. Even when things do not turn out as planned, he said, the Lord will allow individuals to turn those difficult experiences into beneficial experiences.
“Keep your spiritual compasses before you constantly. Watch them carefully. Don't allow yourself even a single degree of deviation from the strait and narrow path. An error of just a degree or two will make a huge difference over time,” he said. “Keep your eyes on the road ahead. If a choice beckons you that is in the middle of the straight and narrow path, it is safe and will lead to blessings for you and for your family."