BYU’s Most Generous Donors Share Wealth of Knowledge
May 15, 2014
Even after the members of the President’s Leadership Council have given much, they give still more by sharing their time and expertise to shape some of BYU’s best and brightest students.
Each month, 32 juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence assemble for a lecture from members of the PLC and others who have distinguished themselves in various fields and industries.
The program is called the PLC Mentored Student Program. Students from across all colleges of the university attend by invitation. They carve out an hour from their day to hear firsthand from leaders who have lived lives rich in experience. They are rewarded with nuggets of wisdom.
Each generation can learn the lessons of life for themselves through trial and error, or they can be catapulted ahead by learning to stand on the shoulders of the preceding generation.
On the last meeting of the school year in late March, highly personable and highly motivated students renewed their friendships with bear hugs and back slaps. These are young people fired by ideas. They have dreams. They see the future through eyes of faith. Most have defended their faith under pressure.
Students know that it is a privilege to be here, said Dan Scoresby, director of the program. To them, these insights are pure gold - the inside scoop on information of thoughts and lessons for life that few others have access to. They prize the opportunity to learn and are willing to do the required extra homework, even when it means cramping their schedules.
“This lecture series is amazing,” said Aaron Havens, a senior majoring in statistics. “I love the lecturers and their stories. It helps to actualize what is seemingly unrealizable.”
Havens continued: “With a good idea, hard work, and a good team member - and a good wife - I can achieve anything.
“These lectures helped me feel more academically prepared for the real world. It solidified the idea that I don't have to be perfect in school, but I do have to be perfect in hard work. If college teaches you how to work hard, solve problems, and think creatively, I believe I can go anywhere I need to in this world.”
Fellow statistics major Nick Pericle had a similar experience: “I absolutely love hearing advice and stories from people who have been successful in their careers,” he said. “Every time I hear a guest speaker, I don’t just think to myself, ‘That could be me someday,’ but rather I think, ‘That will be me.’
“I leave every lecture feeling motivated and excited to continue moving forward. That's a feeling I don't always get while sitting in a classroom, and I love it!”
Joseph Adjei, a junior in statistics from Ghana, agreed: “The PLC Mentored Student Program was really remarkable. Being able to sit in a room full of bright minds was inspiring. I left each meeting with a renewed commitment to my education, my career, and my community. I love learning from the experiences of others and the PLC. I’ve learned much from influential people.
“One thought that really impressed me was that the best ideas will come in the midst of doing other work, as I observe and take notes on gaps and inefficiencies. I want to be able to empower my people in Ghana in the future with the skills and experience I gain from the PLC.”
The concluding lecture this year was taught by Troy Williams, who graduated from BYU and from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. The most important thing you learn in school, he said, may not be out of books but through the people you meet and the lifelong relationships that develop. To illustrate, he told how he and a diverse group of friends bonded while at the Wharton School of Business and together started and sold three companies. For Williams, entrepreneurial success came by noticing the gaps in business processes.
He told stories of the hard work and sacrifice it took to establish his businesses - sometimes leaving family vacations early and sometimes foregoing vacations altogether. He told how on one occasion he slept in the top bunk bed of an associate’s son in order to complete a project.
“Be willing to make the sacrifices you need to make in order to get where you want to go,” he said.
“One thing I was told to do,” he added, “was to keep a notebook of the lessons I’d learned while going through life. I’ve collected 30 notebooks of lessons learned over the years.”
Be willing to roll up your sleeves and earn your credibility by doing things, he continued. “And remember, even the best jobs have boring days. Don’t lose enthusiasm; control your impatience.”
The interesting work that advances your career, he said, “will come at the end of the day when the tedious work has been completed.” He noted how one new employee distinguished himself over another new hire by offering to stay after hours to crunch numbers; the other man worked strictly by the clock.
“Be immersed in your work,” he counseled. “Always be looking for better ways, to find the gaps that need filling, and do things better.”
Williams is a 1995 graduate from the BYU Marriott School of Business. He and his wife, Sherri, live in Park City, Utah, with their four daughters.
Organizers of the PLC Mentored Student Program are profoundly grateful to those who have imparted of their bountiful experience to build bridges for the next generation.
Whether such a contribution came in the form of time or treasure, the effect has accelerated the growth of a choice generation of enthusiastic, humble, and faithful students.
Brittany Strobelt excels as the only English major in the Chinese Flagship program.