I had the honor of being one of the few graduates of the University of Utah’s class of 2017 invited to be the student commencement speaker. While I was not selected, I was thrilled at the opportunity to apply. The following is the speech I submitted for consideration.
It’s taken me 11 years to stand before you with this 4-year degree and I am grateful for every minute it took me to get here. From a trade education to an associate, to a Bachelors, the journey has been a refining process that has given me the tools and confidence to be who I am. Notice, I said who I am, not who I am today. This is because college has not changed me, but challenged me on a deep personal level to know my own mind and self. College has challenged me to evaluate who I was and how I thought, to shed old limitations and pre-conceived notions, to find and refine my own passions, and craft a new vision of my future to doggedly pursue.
From our first courses at the University of Utah we are asked to think more, and warned we will be challenged on more fields then an educational one. I am a communications major, and as such I evaluate how we interact and communicate with the world around us, as well the thought process and rhetoric that goes along with that communication. My first class at the U was a Transfer Interest Group, in this course we learned how to transfer to and navigate the University, as well as grapple with the logical fallacies that cloud our reasoning. You are challenged to understand that “You are not so smart,” which also happens to be the name of the book we study by journalist David McRaney. We learn that there is a myriad of misconceptions and shortcuts that we employ to translate the world around us, from the ever-present and dangerous Confirmation Bias to the comfortable and enticing Consistency Bias. Being aware of these fallacies from the start. I was able to tackle my university education with a more humble and aware outlook.
This humility and awareness is key as we passed through our generals and into our specific educational sequences. We are exposed to facets of the world that we often would not have had the opportunity to do so in regular life. Along the way, something sparks our interest, ignites our mind and fuels our educational and career dreams. We find what we are passionate about and now that we found who we are, we are prepared to pursue it.
This passion can sometimes be a huge shift in our own story, for several years I thought I would build upon my own trade education in Massage Therapy to pursue a higher degree in Biology. But as I took a general communication course, I understood that communications is my passion. That I enjoyed the creative trial communications required more than the structured interpretation of the human body. Now was the time for another challenge to who I was; do I pursue my passion and change focus, losing the time and money spent on my biology courses? Or do I keep on my biology track working at something I liked, but wasn’t the happiest about? I choose my passion. My happiness. My creativity. And my newly discovered me. I know that many of us here have had similar experiences and stand here ready to graduate clutching diplomas and dreams of our new passions. And I am excited for all of us!
The University of Utah has prepared us for our futures on an educational level, mental level, and personal level. In these halls, we have been challenged to remove the roles constructed for us by our parents, family, past educators, friends and peers, and explore deeper subject of our personal interests. The education we have received has trained our minds to continually learn and face challenges. The experience of interacting with a menagerie of students, professors and topics has widened our minds and gifted us with a support system. We leave the campus and enter the “real-world” as ourselves, capable and ready to take on the challenges before us.
I am leaving to pursue my own creative communications goals; to pursue a career in public relations and arts advocacy. To continue to challenge and learn about myself as I become a force of good in this world. We all can become a force of good in this world! We know who we are. We have earned the tools, now is our time to use them.
In Fall 2016, I took “The Editing Process” at the University of Utah. The course is an upper division communication/writing course described in the catalog as: “Judging content and form and preparing copy for publication. Graphics, layout, and picture editing included.” This course reaffirmed and honed my writing and formatting skills in everything from article writing/editing to formatting newspapers. Throughout the process, I learned to trust my intuitive creative design skills and delve deeper into Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Concurrently with the course, I worked on promotional material for my community theater’s production of “Disney Aladdin Jr.” and was able to include some of the designs into my portfolio.
-Kellie Ann Halvorsen
One of the hardest and most rewarding projects I have ever had to complete was producing a student documentary. The project entailed filming, editing, and compiling a documentary of our choice, with me as the producer to make sure the work was done. We chose to create a documentary that challenges the audience to “Look Up” and notice the world around them. Click here for the link to view the final piece.
Every artist interprets the world, and thus creates art, in a different way. One of the first assignments for my “Documentary Video Production” class was to take the same pieces of footage and edit your own version of the film. For this assignment, I was able to assistant direct the filming and then edited my own version using Adobe Premiere Pro. Click here to see my segment showcased in Salt Lake Community College’s “What’s Bruin” My piece is the third segment.
Beginning and Advanced film production at Salt Lake Community College taught me the ins-and-outs of film, newsroom, live event, and documentary production process. I worked in studios, filmed/directed/produced TV segments, wrote scripts and production plans and even hosted the “What’s Bruin’ talk show found at the link here. This coursework also included practical hours outside of the classroom, allowing me to experience in-the-street situations.
Videography and film editing are important, but it is also important to understand how to work on the audio tracks underneath the visuals. I learned my audio editing skills utilizing Adobe Audition to create several pieces of media, including this three-minute audio documentary filled with vocal audition tips featuring the talented Angie Call.
I have been playing in photoshop for well over a decade now. I first learned the program in high school and have had continual training in various college courses and creative opportunities since. I love the challenge of combining different images into one new unified piece. Here are some pieces I am most proud of:
The assignment for this class was to use photoshop to place yourself into a place you have never been but want to be. I choose this stunning lavender field to convey a feeling of peace and creativity. I had to insert myself into the ragged layers of foliage and remove the logo from my shirt.
During my “Introduction to Visual Communications” course, I had the opportunity to learn InDesign to create an interesting magazine style layout. I choose to create an article about Wonder Woman as Lois Lane. Using Photoshop I was able to insert a dynamic article title into the original image by Jarsric. I used cropping and darkroom techniques to bring a dynamic focus to the character for the article.
I am constantly working on creative gifts and projects for my family. Here is the logo I helped create for my sister’s Etsy store. She emailed me the image she had painted with acrylics and I digitized it, giving it a more clip art feel to it. I enjoyed the work so much, we plan on doing more pieces utilizing her art style and my editing.
I fell in love with this artist modern interpretation of DC Comics Wonder Woman, so much so I wanted to create a version that I could cosplay comfortably. Using photoshop I made the figure plus size and added to the dress to bring it to my level of modesty standards. I paid special attention to capturing the shadows on the outfit and even altered the color of the hair. I have yet to find someone who can sew me this wonderful dress, but someday I will be wearing this to comic con.
Sometimes your favorite piece of art isn’t a favorite because of its technical work, but it is your favorite because of what it says about you. As a “getting to know you” assignment for a class we had to create a collage of ourselves, this is my submission. While it appears to be a jumble of layers and layers styles, it really is the layers of myself from my love of creativity to my love of family. Every time I look at this piece it makes me smile.
I have had a lot of opportunities to create posters and logos with my educational, volunteer and creative pursuits. The following is some of my favorite samples created using photoshop, InDesign and similar image editing programs.
In Fall 2015, I took “Writing for Strategic Communications” at the University of Utah. The course is described; “This writing-intensive course introduces students to the variety of writing challenges in advertising, marketing, and public relations.” This course honed my writing and formatting skills in everything from inter-office memos to social media campaigns, business profiles to obituaries. In addition, I learned the value of having a good editor and taking constructive criticism while keeping my own unique voice.
-Kellie Ann Halvorsen
I am fast approaching my 10th anniversary as a licensed massage therapist. I love the work I do. I love that I get to help individuals, in a very personal way, on an almost daily basis. Everybody and every body is different, so every session is different, and the work doesn’t get boring. Even if the work gets stagnant there is always a new modality of massage to learn and techniques to research and incorporate into my practice. Massage is great! I love to give massage as much as I like to receive a massage, but every once in a while I am startled to hear that someone doesn’t like to receive massage or aren’t even willing try it!
This used to baffle me, particularly since touch is so important to me in my life. But over the years, as I have informally interviewed these people, a pattern has emerged to their reasoning. There are generally three reasons why some people don’t like or won’t try massage. (1) Some people simply don’t like being touched, (2) some are not familiar, and as such are uncomfortable, with massage practices and ethics (thank you “Friends” and “Seinfeld” for misinforming a whole generation on massage therapy), but most of all I find (3) people are struggling with their own body issues, such as body shame and body image problems.
If someone doesn’t like to be touched I can’t really do anything for them, besides feel bad for them because touch is AMAZING! I can encourage them to seek out safe and positive touch and hope that maybe someday they will be able to enjoy touch and massage.
It is much easier to educate and familiarize an individual about massage practices and ethics and help them become more comfortable with the idea of massage. Most of the apprehension on this subject is understandable, with questions including whether the individual should wear underwear, how much of my body will the therapist actually work on/see, what is the sheet/towel draping like, what if I need to use the bathroom midway through the session, etc. None of these questions are stupid, each is valid and easily answered by a massage therapist. Believe me, we are ecstatic to educate and introduce you to the world of massage therapy.
Helping individuals whose massage-blocking-factor stems from body issues is a bit tougher and harder to isolate and address.
To clarify, body issues usually arise from the way we internalize and view our own physical body or body image. To have a positive body image isn’t necessarily to have a completely “positive” image of our body, but to have a realistic understanding of our body and a deep appreciation of what it can do for us. Having a negative body image is a negatively distorted view about your physical body, which can affect an individual’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. This negativity could cause an individual to focus on their own flaws and obsess over comparing themselves to the unobtainable figures we often see in media and entertainment. Furthermore, this internal dialog of judgment is often applied to our understanding of an external judgment from others.
People with a negative self-image often assume everyone around them is judging them just as harshly or harsher than they judge themselves, including any prospective massage therapist who would be seeing so much more of their body than the normal person off the street.
I have had so many people say they will see a massage therapist after they lose weight or fix some perceived physical flaw. I have had people express concern that they are just too smelly, or hairy or gassy to see a massage therapist. It breaks my heart when I hear these things! Let me tell you, you are not too fat, smelly, hairy, or anything to see a massage therapist!
When we meet and greet you in our reception area we are honored and excited to be helping you. We don’t see your physical flaws the way you do, we see people with physical and mental stresses that we can help ease. You are a full and complete person to us, you are human!
If someone were to ask me what I would like people to know the most about receiving a massage after my ten years of massage therapy experience, my instantaneous answer would be that “I don’t care if you shaved your legs that day or not, but I do care that you care.” As a massage therapist I put a lot of work in trying to ensure the comfort of my clients and if you spend your whole time on the table worrying about whether I am judging your leg stubble, you are not going to get as much out of the session and a large portion of my hard work will go to waste too.
If you are feeling nervous during a massage due to body issues, here are some things to remember:
Massage therapy is an amazing thing. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine and can help individuals in real physiological ways as well as mental/emotional and even spiritual health. I have loved my decade long career within the field so far and look forward to decades more. I hope that massage therapy can become available to more and more people, including those who might have fears that keep them away. Don’t let fear, unfamiliarity, or body image issues keep you from getting a massage. Educate yourself, talk to a massage therapist, give massage a real chance. You will be happy if you do!
One of the great benefits of seeking out a degree in Strategic Communications is the flexibility allowed in the major. While the focus of a Strat. Comm student is on public relations, advertising, and integrated marketing, my elective choices are varied. In order to be a more marketable graduate, I have purposefully chosen my elective courses to be broader than most. I have explored video, studio, and documentary filming and have honed my talents of a rhetorician. But some of my favorite courses have been in web design. You can even say that Web design is what drew me to communications in the first place.
Since 2009, I have been playing with building and maintaining websites through Intuit’s/Homestead’s interface. While the program is easy to use, it hasn’t offered me the creative freedom and features I want. So in fall 2014 I took an introduction course in web design at SLCC… AND IT WAS AWFUL! The course was disorganized and taught by a teacher who had literally been brought in last minute and held archaic ideas about coding. Lucky for me I was able to take introduction again from the U and loved it! My teacher was talented, ambitious and encouraging. Even luckier I find myself in an advanced class with another talented teacher eager to help me perfect my coding and design skills.
I really would like to master my web design abilities so that I can be a well-rounded asset to my future employers and have the opportunity to code some of my own creative/entrepreneurial projects.
This PDF is a handout I like to use in order to teach my Laurels to study different Gospel topics. It is designed to help prepare them for teaching as future missionaries, teachers, and parents. It not only helps dissect and support a topic, but it gets the individual to think about the application and blessings associated with the principles.
Feel free to save, use, adjust, and share this file.
Sacrament meeting talk given by KellieAnn Halvorsen, October 19, 2013.
Happiness in life is something semi-elusive that we all are searching for. No matter our life situation or current blessings we already have, we reach for this “Happiness Goal” for ourselves, our family, our friends. We in the church are blessed with the knowledge of having a loving Heavenly Father, who we learn wants only our Happiness in life and has established a plan and path that is to lead “Men that they may have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) During this past General Conference, this is the idea that seemed to permeate my thoughts as I listened to the apostles and leaders of the church. That even amide the trials and tribulations of my life, God wants me to be happy. I would like to bear my testimony to you today brothers and sisters, that God wants you to be happy too.
We are taught this concept many times from the time we are small children. I can look back with fondness to when we were asked in primary to sing the song, “Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam.” (Children’s Songbook, pg. 60) I remember even as a little three-year-old how excited I was to participate in this my first ever memorized Sunday hymn. I loved waiting to spring out of my chair and become that spastic ray of sunlight “shining for Him each day” with my arms extended out and falling back down only to spring back up once more.
At that time I didn’t quite understand what the point of the song actually was, I remember graduating from my Sunbeam class and being confused that we would still be asked to sing the song even as we were no longer in the 3-year-old Sunbeam’s age bracket. I admit that it wasn’t for years that I understood that, besides using up the build up energy from attempting to sit quietly during primary, that the song was asking me to be a happy person. To find and shine the excitement and joy that comes from learning and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While writing this talk I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined using this song as a regular hymn during our sacrament services. In my mind’s eye, I could see the entire congregation, adults and children, bursting forth with the same energy that I witness during singingtime as a primary teacher. The congregation singing with hand and body movements proclaiming proudly how “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for Him each day.”
In the sessions of this past General Conference some of my favorite apostles talked on this matter of happiness, and conversely, matters dealing with sadness and depression. Pres. Eyring spoke of finding happiness in the gospel, in the keeping of commandments and creating it within the walls of our homes. He gave these wise words, “Heavenly Father has made each of us unique. No two of us will have exactly the same experiences. No two families are alike… Yet a loving heavenly father has set the same path of happiness for all of His children. Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow the commandments of God.” close quote. (Eyring, October 2013)
This plan Goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge of the plan of salvation. God is our loving Heavenly Father. He sent us to earth to become more like him. To be more like Him we needed to make our own choices and grow in our own understanding. Along the path of this understanding, we come across harsh trials and powerful blessings. We all stumble and become unworthy to return to Him. So in God’s wisdom, he incorporated into the plan, the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Wherein we can be forgiven of these sins, learn to live a righteous life, and return home to Him. This is the path of Happiness that the God wants us to live. To have faith, repent, and strive to keep the commandments, this will leave to long and lasting happiness. Not the fleeting and often hollow happiness of this temporal mortal life, but an eternal joy in the kingdom of God.
I know from personal experience, that happiness can be hard to find, even while striving to live a Christ-centered life. Sometimes the weight of our trials and sins, whether active transgression or sins of omission, can weigh on our lives and cause us great sorrow and depression. Blocking our vision of happiness and even our desire to reach out for it. When in this state of mind it can be extremely difficult to hear the encouragement or reprimand of others. It is in these times of darkness that we must turn from comforting ourselves by wallowing in our own misery, and actively seek for the light. The light that emanates from the life and atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. To find and exude that ray of “Sunbeam” in our lives.
During conference Elder Holland in his amazing talk “Like a Broken Vessel,” spoke about the reality of depression, mental illnesses and sadness, adding through observation and experience his own advice on how to work through these times of doubt and darkness saying “Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.” close quote. (Holland, October 2013)
It can be hard to keep moving ahead, to keep the fires of hope stoked when our righteous desires seem to be coming to us to slowly or not at all. I must admit that I struggle daily with this, but I am still a happy person. When in doubt I often think of a marvelous talk giving by President Eyring to the students at BYU thirty years ago called “ A Law of Increasing Returns.” (Eyring, March 1982) I listen or read this talk often, on what feels like a weekly basis having downloaded it even to my every handy kindle.
It speaks of working hard at your goals, even if the rewards are not coming to you a quickly or as often as you like. Eyring speaks of keeping a vision of the blessings and happiness you would like to achieve. Of working towards the “Late harvests” in life. Near the conclusion of his talk he states that “There are some things you should work for and expect results now. But along with getting early harvests, I hope you’ll work and wait for the late ones. That will take seeing the law of increasing returns as an opportunity, not just a test. Delayed blessings will build your faith in God to work, and wait, for him. The scriptures aren’t demeaning when they command, “Wait upon the Lord.” That means both service and patience. And that will build your faith.
It may help you to watch both for the chance to smile and the blessings around you on the way. And it may help to picture both the future of the people whom you serve for God and his promise of peace in this life.” Close quote.
Brothers and Sisters, I ask of you today to watch for these opportunities to smile while working on finding your happiness in life. To remember that excitement of a youngster springing from a chair to declare that merits of “shining for Him each day.” Let us strive to live by the simple lyrics of this children’s Hymn.
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
To shine for him each day;
In every way try to please him,
At home, at school, at play.
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
I’ll be a sunbeam for him.
I bear my testimony that happiness comes from continually striving to live the commandments of God, the little and the big. I also would like to bear my testimony that we all struggle with sadness along this path. That we all struggle with our own pet sins and vices. But that through the atonement of Christ and the power of repentance these weaknesses can become our strengths. Again I would like to bear my witness that God truly wants you to be happy and that true and lasting happiness can only come through following the promptings of the spirit and keeping the commandments of God.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
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