Utah Valley University Class of 2022 Encouraged to be ‘Unmistakably, Unapologetically You’ at Commencement

As UVU celebrated the Class of 2022 at this year’s commencement ceremony, held on May 6 in the UCCU Center, the message was clear: To succeed in life, be curious, be brave, and most of all, be yourself.


Watch the archive of Utah Valley University's 2022 commencement ceremony using the video above. 

Read the full remarks from Mary C. Daly and President Astrid S. Tuminez

As Utah Valley University celebrated the Class of 2022 — by far the largest in the institution’s history, with 11,064 students receiving 14,431 degrees and certificates — at this year’s commencement ceremony, held on May 6 in the UCCU Center, the message was clear: To succeed in life, be curious, be brave, and most of all, be yourself.

In her keynote address, Mary C. Daly, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, encouraged UVU graduates to resist the urge to conform and play an expected role and instead be “unmistakably and unapologetically you.”

“You are the sum total of every experience, every triumph, every hardship, every challenge that you have ever endured,” Daly said. “And this singular equation that only you can bring is your superpower. It is that secret combination that unlocks your innate talents and sets you apart from every other person in the world.”

Daly recounted the story of applying in 2018 for the job she now holds. She told the UVU audience that she wrote a beautiful cover letter — “truly a work of art” — detailing her career and accomplishments and the nation’s history. But when she showed the letter to a friend, while agreeing that it was amazing, the friend said, “But anyone could have written it.”

“My heart sank, but I also knew she was right,” Daly said. “I had written the letter I thought the hiring committee wanted to read. And I was presenting in that letter the person I thought I needed to present to get the job. This was a person, in my mind, who bore only an abstract resemblance to the real me.”

Daly then told the details of her personal history. A native of Ballwin, Missouri, Daly dropped out of high school at age 15 due to family hardships. She worked a number of odd jobs, including selling donuts and working at Target. Thanks to the encouragement of mentors and her own perseverance, Daly earned her GED at age 17 and went on to become the first member of her family to graduate from college. That story, she said, was very different from the other candidates for the Fed presidency.

She also mentioned how, when she started at the Fed, Daly dressed and styled her hair in the way she felt she was expected to look, rather than how she felt comfortable. The mindset of hiding herself, she said, permeated everything, including her job performance.

“Pretending, as it turns out, is exhausting,” she said. “And it’s also hugely limiting.”

Daly told the audience that as she began to give herself the space to be authentic, she found fortitude and confidence that carried over into her work and research, providing new opportunities. And when she realized she was falling into the same old pattern with that cover letter, she rewrote it, leaning into her story instead of avoiding it. Six months later, she got the job.

Daly emphasized, however, that the decision to “be yourself” is not a one-time thing.

“What you probably don't know — and what I have learned in my 30-year career — is that being yourself isn’t a switch that you can simply turn on, and then it stays on forever,” Daly said. “It’s a journey, and it’s one that you will need to take over and over again.”

That journey of discovery was also a key message in UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez’s address. She tied her remarks to her reading of the novel “The Overstory” by Richard Powers — “a novel about people and trees, but mostly trees,” she said.

President Tuminez spoke about the research Powers conducted in writing his novel and all the facts she learned about trees in the process. “As you leave UVU,” Tuminez said, “I hope you will always remember the phrase ‘Did you know?’ It will remind you to be curious, ask questions, and pay attention to the things that are important. Pay attention — to trees, loved ones, a new morning, the work in front of you.”

Tuminez also encouraged students to make the effort to find life’s purpose for themselves. “As graduates, make the effort to define your ‘why,’” she said. “What kind of work makes you feel alive and why? How can you better serve others and improve your relationships? What great things would you attempt if you could get rid of fear?”

Her last piece of guidance was for students to follow the example of trees and stand still and breathe amid life’s difficulties.

“As you leave UVU, remember that breathing and stillness are a superpower,” Tuminez said.

“Every day, practice breathing and coming home to yourself and your body. When you are overcome by strong and difficult emotions, breathe deeply and slowly. Come back to the present moment. Let go of the past and don’t worry too much about the future. Be home, here and now.”

UVUSA student body president Karen Magaña-Aguado also addressed the Class of 2022, sharing her perspective as a first-generation student and the daughter of Mexican immigrants.

“When I first came to this university, I didn’t yet know what it was like to dream, but UVU showed me how,” Magaña-Aguado said. “One day, you realize that you are the dream. That right now, in this moment, you are the dream. And, Wolverines, I hope you find that today is one of those days for you.”

Daly also received an honorary doctorate in public service during the commencement ceremonies. Other honorary degree recipients included business and community leader Karen L. Acerson, who received an honorary doctorate in humane letters, and Steven J. Lund, executive chairman of the board of directors at Nu Skin Enterprises, who received an honorary doctorate in business.

In addition, Utah Governor Spencer Cox delivered a video message as part of the ceremony. “You are a remarkably diverse group,” Cox said. “I am impressed by the different life experiences embodied here this evening and the record number of graduates receiving degrees. The diplomas you have earned mark an ending, but more importantly, they represent a new and exciting beginning.”

Confetti capped off the evening as the Class of 2022 moved their tassels and celebrated with family, friends, and the UVU community.

Convocations for UVU’s eight colleges and schools took place earlier in the day on May 6 across UVU’s Orem Campus.