Graduation is a Community Effort
Honors graduate, Heidi Moe Graviet, represents the Honors Program as the student selected by the Honors Executive Committee to speak at the 2020 BYU University Commencement. While she will not have a chance to address the studentbody this year, she has some parting words of advice for her fellow students: “We often think of graduation as a culmination of individual effort, but a graduation is a community effort. My message to other graduates would be, remember all the people who have gotten you here. Living that way allows you to live powerfully." As the Honors Program designee, "Moe" as she prefers to be called, joins a long list of amazing BYU alumni that exemplify the best of our graduates. We congratulate her, and thank her for the many contributions she has made to the Honors Program over the last several years!
True to her own advice, Graviet has made building the Honors community a key goal during her term as vice-president of the Honors Student Leadership Council this year. Graviet developed and led a successful student ambassadorship program to foster unity among Honors students with diverse majors. Her idea was to appoint liaisons for each Honors class who would also form study groups, head up outings and reach out to classmates in need of a friend. The program saw great success this year, and Graviet has laid the foundation for the ambassador program to expand going forward. Working with other members of the Honors Student Leadership Council, Graviet led a variety of activities, research projects, and marketing initiatives for the Honors Program. She has also served as a teaching assistant for the Great Questions essay (HONRS 320) and served as a mentor and friend to many students. She "exemplifies the best of BYU,” according to her mentor, Dr. Matthew Wickman. “She loves the Lord and has the mind, drive and skills to succeed at most anything, but she is determined to choose what is most virtuous, lovely and of good report.”
For Graviet, deciding how to develop her strengths hasn’t always been straightforward. When she first set her sights on college, BYU wasn’t in the plan and neither were her English major and philosophy minor. Graviet originally wanted to attend school with her sisters in Pennsylvania but felt inspired to enroll at BYU instead.
“At first I didn’t know why I was here,” said Graviet. “I laugh now because Heavenly Father knew exactly where I needed to be. BYU has this really unique holistic approach where they really see learning as a combination of cultivating spiritual gifts as well as intellectual development.” Looking back she said, “I wouldn’t have grown nearly as much at another university, even though the education would have been amazing, because I think the way that I learn is through the combination of those things.”
As it is for many students, figuring out her major was a lengthy, introspective process: “I thought, ‘I need to be serious,’” said Graviet. “‘Serious means STEM, so I’m going to do that.’ But then I realized that my love lies in the humanities, narratives and questions of meaning. I naturally gravitated toward English and philosophy as I started to realize what I actually wanted from my education."
Her choices opened up what she calls “transformative” experiences as a BYU student. These included researching Victorian poetry for a summer at the University of Cambridge, studying abroad at the BYU Jerusalem Center and doing research for three professors’ upcoming books. Her Honors thesis, “Journey into the Self: Essays of Bi-Culturalism, Religion, and Identity,” explores her own Japanese-American heritage.
Graviet’s interest in the relationship between spirituality and literature deepened after she heard a lecture on the subject by Dr. Wickman, BYU professor of English and director of the Humanities Center. “It just resonated with me, this is really, really, really important,” she recalled. “Something within me said, ‘Yes, please let me be a part of that.’” So she approached Wickman and asked to be his research assistant.
Working closely with several faculty mentors like Wickman has been the hallmark of her education, Graviet said. “I have been in awe of pretty much all of my professors and the way they exemplify being disciple-scholars. They embody everything I want to be as a person.”
For his part, Dr. Wickman describes Graviet’s role in his work as “enormously important”: “Moe’s exceptional insights and courage . . . have inspired me to be a better writer and teacher, especially pertaining to intersections of faith and intellect. Moe thinks with great depth and clarity, drawing from reservoirs of great goodness.”
Graviet’s many contributions to Honors, and to the larger BYU community attest to her abilities and desire to serve. Twice awarded the Eliza R. Snow Undergraduate Fellowship, Graviet helped organize two of the Humanities Center’s annual undergraduate research symposia, and she also edited the student-led journal Criterion for two years. As a member of the BYUSA Student Advisory Council, she helped spearhead an initiative to connect students to mental health resources on campus.
After graduating in August, Graviet will be working as a content writer and teaching seminary. Her long-term plans include attending divinity school and pursuing a Ph.D. in English or religious studies.