Thirty by Thirty

PROVO, Utah – Feb 05, 2020 – As a teenager working in a Taiwanese night market, BYU Marriott School of Accountancy student Dmitrii Liu thought he would be working jobs like this his entire life. However, with the encouragement of his mother, he was guided to study at BYU Marriott, where he discovered his world could include far more than the night market. In fact, after catching a glimpse of the possibilities, the twenty-three-year-old Liu set a goal for himself: he plans to visit thirty countries before he is thirty years old, something he never would have thought possible before BYU.

Liu spent half of his childhood in Taiwan and half in China. “After middle school, I didn’t finish high school; instead, I worked full-time,” says Liu. “I did crazy jobs like working at the night market in Taiwan and doing construction and electrical work.”

During this time, Liu’s mother consistently encouraged him to pursue an education. “I didn't like school, but my mother always valued education,” says Liu. “Eventually I realized I needed an education to get the life I wanted and to have the things to fund my own interests.”

After deciding to pursue an education, Liu had no idea if he would be able to get into any college, much less a school in the United States. After investigating possible universities he could attend, Liu says, “All I knew is, if I were to go to college in the states, I wanted to go to a BYU school because they had an environment I was looking for and were the most affordable.”

Liu spent a semester at BYU–Idaho then headed back to Taiwan to fulfill mandated military service in an artillery battalion as a medic. “My time in the military taught me discipline and was a good preface for my mission and school,” says Liu. Liu served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the San Francisco and Oakland, California, areas before transferring to BYU.

Liu’s Chinese name is Yu, but he decided to choose a name that was more recognizable for his peers. “The first name I had was David because my parents were Christian,” says Liu. “After coming to BYU, I made a LinkedIn account and realized that the name David Liu is common. If I wanted to stand out, I needed to pick a less common but identifiable name.”

While taking a BYU physical science class, Liu learned about Dmitri Mendeleev who invented the periodic table. “I thought, ‘I can name myself after a smart guy like that,’ and settled on Dmitrii,” says Liu.

While Liu is not sure on what he wants to do in the future, he chose accounting as his major for its flexibility. “I decided on accounting because I realized it's a super broad field,” says Liu. “I can work in any industry I want.”

Liu hopes his love for traveling and working in a field that is applicable to any industry will give him an advantage in the workforce. “I've always thought that one of my strongest assets is that I'm not tied down anywhere,” says Liu. “With the world being more globalized, that's a huge plus for my employer, who will be able to send me wherever.”

As Liu looks to the future, his “Thirty by Thirty” goal is already well underway. Liu has lived in three countries and has visited seventeen others. “I enjoy sleeping at train stations and airports and traveling cheap,” says Liu. “I stay in areas that are less touristy so I can see what everyday life is like in those countries.”

After Liu graduates in June 2020, he will start working in San Francisco with Deloitte, but he plans on eventually working all over the world. “Living or working in London has always been a dream of mine because I grew up learning British English and British history in Beijing, so I've always had a connection with England,” says Liu. Liu also wants to work in Sweden after falling in love with the country during a backpacking trip. He is learning Swedish by watching the news from Swedish sources, listening to podcasts, and taking courses at BYU to enhance his language skills.

In addition to working worldwide, Liu hopes that after graduating, he can be a resource to any BYU student. "Almost everywhere I go, even in Europe, I am able to find alumni to connect with, and I think that is special,” says Liu. “As I move around, I want to be a point of contact for any BYU student.”

Being a resource for future students is one way Liu plans to give back to the BYU community. “I believe in giving back because so many people helped me get to where I am today,” says Liu. I would be working a minimum wage job in Taiwan if it weren't for all the help I got. Now I get to grow my career, travel, and see new things.”

Liu pictured in Sintra, Portugal.
Liu pictured in Sintra, Portugal. Photo Courtesy of Dmitrii Liu.
Liu pictured in Rome.
Liu pictured in Rome. Photo Courtesy of Dmitrii Liu.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe