26950_000_008It didn’t matter that everyone was doing it; I had to be honest.
After a number of students dropped out following our freshman year, my dental school classes became even more competitive. Everyone worked hard to be at the top of the class. As the competition increased, some students decided that the way to succeed was by cheating. This troubled me greatly. Every day I prayed that I would be blessed to learn the assigned material and remember what I studied. I knew I couldn’t ask the Lord to bless me if I cheated. I felt strongly that if I did my part, the Lord would grant me this blessing.
During summer break, I went to visit a dentist who had graduated from my school. I talked to him about cheating. He said he had encountered the same problem.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“What could I do?” he replied. “I had no choice but to cheat occasionally.”
I pondered his answer. Here he was, a successful dentist, and he had cheated to get his degree. But I knew I couldn’t cheat. I wanted to be right with God even more than I wanted to become a dentist.
My junior year, I was offered a copy of an upcoming test in a crucial class. Obviously that meant some of my classmates would have the test questions ahead of time. I declined the offer. When the corrected test papers were returned, the class average was extremely high, making my score low in comparison. The professor asked to speak to me.
“Roy,” he said, “you usually do well on tests. What happened?”
“Sir,” I told my professor, “on the next exam, if you give a test that you have never given before, I believe you will find that I do very well.” There was no reply.
We had another test in the same class. As the test was handed out, there were audible groans. It was a test the teacher had never given before. When our graded tests were handed back, I had received one of the highest grades in the class. From then on, all the tests were new.
That was not the end of the Lord’s blessings to me. At the end of their senior year, all dental students have to take practical tests—performing procedures on patients while professors watch and grade their performance. If you don’t do well on these practical tests, you don’t graduate. In the early winter of my senior year, I slipped on a patch of ice and broke my right arm. Immediately I felt grateful that it was only January, assuming the cast would come off in six weeks. But I was informed I had broken the scaphoid in my wrist, one of the most difficult bones to heal. I would be in a cast for six months. In despair, I realized I couldn’t work on patients with a cast on my right arm.
I asked for a priesthood blessing. In that blessing I was told not to fear, all would be well. After some weeks I discovered that my fingers were perfectly agile, even with the cast on. When I arrived at the testing area, the professors shook their heads, insisting there was no possibility I could perform the necessary procedures. I asked them to let me try, and if they were not satisfied I would withdraw. Each patient looked surprised upon seeing my cast, but I was able to perform the procedures to the complete approval of the examining professors. I graduated in the top of my class.
I know the Lord blessed me for my commitment to be honest. I learned that when we do what the Lord asks, He is a powerful ally for our success. With Him, we can accomplish more than we could possibly do on our own.