Taking Time to Serve

Marriott School students find ways to reach out

Many students in the Marriott School of Management are busy juggling packed schedules filled with rigorous coursework and extracurriculars — but that doesn't stop them from setting the books aside to lend a helping hand. Here's a glance at service activities performed last semester by three student groups: the Marriott Undergraduate Student Association, Rotaract and Marriott On-Board.

Students from the Marriott School Undergraduate Association are showing that the perfect service opportunity may be as close as the next desk over.  

MUSA officers were aware that many students entering business school find the experience intimidating, sometimes even overwhelming. To give new students a leg up, they launched a program in October 2009 called Inspired Mentoring. In its first semester the program enlisted 40 senior management students to mentor Marriott School newcomers. Mentors meet regularly with their partners to give them advice on classes, careers and everything in between, sharing what they wish they knew when they began their Marriott School experience.

2009-10 MUSA Officers. Top row, left to right: Trent Murphy, John Smith, Matt Harris, Andrew Turner, Jun Song and Stuart Lewis. Bottom row: Tim Ehat, Thor Christensen, Tommy Jackson, Levi Bradshaw, Tamanna Kalra, Matt Peterson, Steve Lockhart and Rhett Ferrin.
2009-10 MUSA Officers. Top row, left to right: Trent
Murphy, John Smith, Matt Harris, Andrew Turner, Jun
Song and Stuart Lewis. Bottom row: Tim Ehat, Thor
Christensen, Tommy Jackson, Levi Bradshaw, Tamanna
Kalra, Matt Peterson, Steve Lockhart and Rhett Ferrin.
Ashley Porter, vice president of service for MUSA, says the program was inspired in part by her own experience working at the Marriott School Advisement Center. Porter, a senior marketing major from Kaysville, Utah, says she met plenty of students worried that they weren't fitting in and keeping up. She and other MUSA members decided a mentoring program would be the perfect way to help unite students and give them a way to reach out.

"This mentoring program is a way to raise the school to a higher level," she says. 

BYU Rotaract, the collegiate division of philanthropic organization Rotary International, is also providing opportunities to serve. And in October, the group headed to an unconventional service scene — the local cemetery.

On Halloween morning, about 100 students gathered at the Provo Cemetery to rake 20 acres of leaf-covered land. Graceann Jacobson, vice president of community service for Rotaract and a senior pre-management major, says she wasn't sure whether students would be interested in such a spooky service project, but the response was enthusiastic.

"It helps that this project was unique, so it got people's attention," Jacobson remarks. "Everybody that I've talked to really liked the activity, and a lot of people asked if we could make it a club tradition."

Cemetery office assistant Brenda Brown says that in the fall there are only four full-time employees, so the staff was grateful for the students' helping hands.

"This will provide a cleaner, better atmosphere for those who come and visit the graves," she says. "The help with sprucing things up really makes a difference for us."

While some students make a difference by wielding a rake at the cemetery, others are opting to serve by toting a briefcase to the boardroom, thanks to Marriott On-Board, a program sponsored by the BYU chapter of Net Impact that gives Marriott School graduate students the opportunity to join local nonprofits' boards of directors.

Chance Basinger, a first-year MPA student from Fruitland, N.M., drives from Provo to Salt Lake City once a week to work with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah. In addition to attending board meetings, he reviews the organization's financial statements and wish submissions and helps plan fund-raising events.

Basinger says the experience has been a valuable opportunity to solidify skills he learns in the classroom and observe firsthand how a nonprofit board works. He notes that it has also been inspiring to see successful people taking time out of their busy schedules to serve.

"Because of my experience working with the board members," he says, "I've realized there is always time and value in making an effort to serve."

Michael Gray, Marriott On-Board program director and first-year MPA student, says any community involvement encourages students to develop a lifelong pattern of service.

"Being a service-oriented person doesn't just happen overnight," he says. "It's an attribute that students should develop by taking action now."       

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems, entrepreneurship, and recreation management and youth leadership. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Holly V.W. Munson