Local grad gives BYU commencement address

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MILTON, Ga. – Megan Renee Hirschi, daughter of Kenneth D. and Linda R. Hirschi in Milton, was chosen to be the class of 2014 student body commencement speaker at Brigham Young University’s graduation April 11.

Hirschi, who attended Milton High School, graduated from BYU with university honors, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and two minors in English and music. The magna cum laude graduate addressed 5,800 graduates and 20,000 well-wishers in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.

She shared her perspective with her fellow graduates during her commencement speech.

“We came here to BYU to learn not just a series of facts or skills; we came to learn patterns of thinking, methods of problem solving and techniques for lifelong learning,” she said. “For me, chemistry really has unlocked the mysteries of the universe, because it has not just given me knowledge, but it has taught me how to learn.”

During her time at BYU, Hirschi chose to do a study abroad program in Jerusalem. It was there she learned an important life lesson. She experienced for the first time real world problems. She said she felt helpless to do anything. Hirschi became determined to help others, so she turned to her faith.

“I knew the Heavenly Father can help them with their problems,” she said.

In her junior year, she decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Her professors were supportive of her decision to serve a full-time two-year service and proselytizing church mission, but encouraged her to finish her degree before going. She had some of the top grades in the program. They worried that she may forget some of the things she learned and ultimately affect her grade point average and her chances to get into graduate school.

Hirschi decided to put aside her education and help the people in Thailand from 2010 to 2012. While there, she learned things that helped her when she returned to school.

“I developed as a person,” she said. “I learned how to work hard. It helped me in my relationships with others and get the most out of my college experience.”

When she returned to BYU, she reviewed her earlier classes and studied hard to catch up. She became one of the top six students in the honors program at BYU and was ultimately chosen to be the student commencement speaker.

“We’ve learned that true education starts with a desire, a craving for greater understanding,” she said. “We’ve also learned how to create solutions, experiment on those solutions and interpret the results. Most importantly, we’ve learned to pursue that which is desirable and entices us to do good.”

During her three years in the research lab, she learned something else. She enjoys writing, reading and working with people. While the biochemistry research was interesting to her, she has chosen to apply law school. She plans to study constitutional law or human rights. Hirschi is a Milton resident who plans to use her knowledge and her God-given gifts to make a difference in the world.

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