Elder L. Whitney Clayton Counsels Graduates to Correct Course Early

  By Whitney Evans, Church News staff writer

  • 17 April 2013

 Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during LDS Business College’s 126th commencement.  Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

“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.” —Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy

During the LDS Business College commencement, Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy told graduates to identify and correct their courses early. If they are headed down a path, Elder Clayton said, that does not lead “down the center of the path of righteousness, then be wise and change direction.”

Held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, it was the college’s 126th commencement, awarding 549 degrees and certificates to 335 students. Students represented many areas of the United States and some 60 countries and earned 362 two-year degrees and 187 certificates.

Elder Clayton told graduates that “success in life is a matter of degrees. … 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.”

 

Students representing many areas of the United States and 60 countries earned 362 two-year degrees and 187 certificates. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

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 turned downward, 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.

“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 strait and narrow path have lives that work out well.” Elder Clayton 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 strait and narrow path, it is safe and will lead to blessings for you and for your family.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during LDS Business College’s 126th commencement. Elder Clayton told graduates to identify and correct their courses in life early. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

“If a choice will tend to lead you from the strait and narrow path, even by a degree or two, then be very, very careful,” he said. “Watch where you are going.”

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.

Brother Kariuki attended LDS Business College from 1991 to 1993. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University, 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 is 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.