Mark B. Woodruff serves with the LDS Church Educational System as Assistant to the Commissioner and Secretary to the Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees. His previous positions include Director of Missionary Services for the LDS Church Missionary Department, Director of the BYU Public Affairs Office, Director of Marketing and Communications for the BYU Alumni Association, Executive Director of the BYU President's Club, and Manager of International Banking at First Security Bank. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from BYU in Higher Education Administration and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from BYU.
He has been active in community affairs, serving as President of the Board of Directors of Mountainlands Community Health Center, member of the board of directors of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, Loaned Executive with United Way of the Greater Salt Lake Area, and board member of the Import/Export Council for the State of Utah. He has served in the LDS Church as mission president of the Brazil Recife Mission and bishop of the BYU 123rd Ward. He currently serves as first counselor in the stake presidency of the Provo Young Single Adult 2nd Stake. He and his wife, Peggy, are the parents of six children.
"Persistence, Patience, and Prayer"
Brother Mark Woodruff
July 23, 2015
Brother and sisters, I am pleased to be here with you on this joyous day of commencement. I commend each of you who are graduating today for your diligence in pursuing and attaining this significant goal in your life.
The outstanding education that you have received here at Brigham Young University-Idaho will assist you in fulfilling many of the personal and professional goals that you have formulated for your future. Long-term goals are good but need to be adaptable because of the numerous variables that can and will affect your plans. In addition, never forget that the Lord also has a wonderful plan for your life, which could necessitate changes to your own plans. There are many ways in which you can handle the changes that will come in your future, but I would like to suggest three keys that will assist you in achieving success in the midst of inevitable change: persistence, patience, and prayer.
Persistence Persistence is a valuable attribute in dealing with change. For some, the word persistence might have somewhat of a negative connotation, but being persistent in good causes should be a highly sought-after trait. Working hard to make things happen, especially when confronted with external forces and circumstances that impose changes to your plans, requires that you proactively act rather than waiting to be acted upon.
I have been blessed to know exemplary people who have successfully dealt with unexpected change with steadfast persistence. These individuals have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and have turned those challenges into triumphant successes. One such individual is here with us tonight and serves as a recreation management professor at BYU-Idaho.
Dr. Keith Barney suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 14 while on a hunting trip. He has required the use of a wheelchair for his mobility since that time. Such a severe accident could have left him bitter and withdrawn. Instead, Keith determined to make the best of his situation, and he overcame the challenges that the accident presented to him. Through his persistent efforts he has set and accomplished many worthwhile goals, including the goal to achieve an excellent education. Through hard work and determination he has received a master's degree in social work and a doctorate in therapeutic recreation.
Dr. Barney has also been recognized for excellence in numerous athletic accomplishments, including handcycling 3,250 miles across the United States in just over 49 days. He was an Olympic torchbearer during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics and competed in the 2002 Salt Lake Paralympics as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.
And most impressive of all, Dr. Barney has devoted his life to the service of others, traveling throughout the world to help other wheelchair recipients learn how to be mobile and independent. He has persistently dealt with unanticipated changes in a positive way that has brought great blessings to his own life and to the lives of many others. Persistence, such as that demonstrated by Professor Barney, will help you deal with unforeseen changes to your goals and plans, and will be a means to bless your life in remarkable ways.
Next, change requires patience, especially when the change involves a major adjustment to your plans from what you originally envisioned.
Patience Change has been ongoing at BYU-Idaho since its founding as an educational institution in 1888. Many of the changes that were experienced at the school were welcomed, such as the decision by the Church Board of Education in 1948 to change Ricks College into a four-year institution. However, change can just as often be difficult to accept, as illustrated by the surprising announcement only seven years later that Ricks College would revert to being a two-year junior college again.
Notwithstanding the disappointing news of this unexpected announcement, Ricks College President John L. Clarke supportingly wrote at the time, "We feel that our course now is to go forward and develop the school as quickly as we can in accordance with the program."1
Despite their disappointment with this change, the Ricks College community worked patiently for the next 45 years until the announcement was made by President Gordon B. Hinckley in June 2000 that Ricks College would become BYU-Idaho and would again return to its previous status as a four-year institution.
You need only look around in this beautiful building where we meet tonight to understand that unimagined blessings have flowed to this university because of the patience and hard work exhibited by those early administrators, faculty, and students who were able to "bear all . . . things with patience."2 The apostle Paul taught, "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."3 I know you will be blessed as you manage change in your life with the patience exhibited by those early Ricks College stalwarts.
Prayer While persistence and patience are important in successfully dealing with inevitable change in life, prayer is essential. You and I each realize that our life does not always work out as we have planned. Major setbacks and reversals are not only possible in life but should even be expected at times. During these difficult times prayer will assist you in receiving the help necessary to overcome the challenges that you face. Prayer will enable you to access the aid that you desire and will allow you to "come off conqueror"4 when faced with your darkest hours. Prayer will open a conduit to the Holy Ghost, who will fill you "with hope and perfect love" as you earnestly plead for His presence.5 And as you pray, remember that God has promised to help us turn our weaknesses into strengths if we will but come unto Him.6
Tomorrow we commemorate the arrival of the first group of LDS pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley 167 years ago. These consecrated souls were superb examples of individuals who have successfully dealt with change. They had a sense of mission that propelled them through the trials they experienced while crossing the plains. They were persistent in their determination to do God's will and to be obedient to His commandments. They were patient in their long-suffering.7 They called upon God in His holy name for strength to deal with the constantly changing environment in which they found themselves.8 They counseled with Heavenly Father in all their doings and were blessed with peace in the midst of their trials.9
As you face a future full of tremendous opportunities and unknown challenges, remember to be persistent, patient, and prayerful in how you handle any given situation. By so doing you will be blessed beyond measure and will find true success and happiness in your life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. David L. Crowder, The Spirit of Ricks: A History of Ricks College (Rexburg, Idaho: Ricks College, 1997), 215. 2. Alma 38:4. 3. Hebrews 10:36. 4. D&C 10:5. 5. Moroni 8:26. 6. See Ether 12:27. 7. See Alma 7:11. 8. See Alma 34:17. 9. See Alma 37:37.