August, 2, 2012

BYU-Hawaii: More than Just a View

Courtesy of Education in Zion


During the winter months at BYU-Provo, a common image in the minds of students is of warm beaches devoid of snow. How wonderful it would be if the Provo campus could switch places with the Hawaii campus during those frosty months.

Yet, BYU-Hawaii has more than its gorgeous vistas; it is also a university with a powerful history and purpose. At the groundbreaking in 1955, President David O. McKay prophesied that “From this school . . .  will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.”[1] What a force it is in the 21st century!

Students attend from all over the world to learn new skills and gain knowledge. They frequently return to their countries and bring back their new skills and knowledge. One student, from Burundi, stated, “I am going to go back to my home. I know that it is dangerous, but . . . I have to help my country. It will be hard. I feel like I am a container of juice being poured into the entire ocean [,] . . . but I have to try.”[2] With thousands of students just like this one, President McKay’s prophesy has truly been fulfilled.

The powerful influence of leadership and community stems from the very building of the campus itself. Service missionaries from Hawaii were called to build the first buildings. Each had to be trained in construction and every morning before work started, they would pray for protection.[3] At the last leg of this worthy endeavor, the whole community joined in its completion. The missionaries and volunteers donated nearly 300,000 hours to see this work accomplished. This amazing sense of community, faith, and service set the tone for the following years and is now known as “the aloha spirit.”

BYU-Hawaii has not only a wonderful view, but also a touching spirit and a lasting purpose.



[1] David O. McKay, address given at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Church College of Hawaii, February 12, 1955, found in Reuben D. Law, The Founding and Early Development of the Church College of Hawaii (St. George, Utah: Dixie College Press, 1972), 60–70.

[2] Appolonie Nahishikeye, “Talkin’ Story,” interviewed by Megan Smith, University Advancement, April 7, 2008, BYU-H website.

[3] David W. Cummings, Mighty Missionary of the Pacific: The Building Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Its History, Scope, and Significance (Salt Lake City: n.p., 1961),277.