From Mix-Up to Memorable

PROVO, Utah – Sep 26, 2019 – Walking into class on my first day of freshman year at BYU, I was dismayed to learn that MSB 375 was the Ballard Center’s Do Good. Better course—not the marketing class I’d been hoping to take. I was tempted to drop the class on the spot. However, as I was in no position to turn away extra credit hours, I resigned myself to my fate: a whole semester in a class on social entrepreneurship, whatever that was.

Although my initial excitement towards the prospect of the Do Good. Better class was lacking, I did have a genuine interest in social issues. I had recently returned from serving a mission in Cambodia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where I learned exactly how favorable my circumstances were back home in the United States. I hadn’t always realized that. My mom was a Vietnamese refugee who worked three jobs to keep our family afloat, so I had spent my childhood enviously watching the kids who got to play sports after school and travel abroad. It wasn’t until I arrived in Cambodia, as I helped unemployed mothers, taught children who had no place in the school system, and met daily with people who would have given anything for my opportunities that I realized I hadn’t been shafted in the lottery of life. In fact, in my own way, I had won. This experience left me with a hunger to do something for those who weren’t as lucky as me.

And that’s where the class I never wanted to take came in. MSB 375 turned out to be the most impactful course of my college career. My reluctance faded quickly as I learned a new approach to service and education. I discovered that while you can do good in the traditional “here’s a can of soup” kind of way, opportunities for changing the world also exist that are dynamic, brilliant, and cutting-edge. That’s the kind of impact I was looking for.

Since that first day in MSB 375, I have become heavily involved in the Ballard Center. One of my most memorable experiences was completing an on-campus internship with the Asante Foundation, an organization that supports rural Kenyan farmers in becoming self-sufficient through sustainable agricultural practices. Instead of giving the farmers a meal, Asante helps them gain skills and income stability, which can provide long-time benefits for their families, including better access to healthy meals, education, and healthcare. In addition to working with Asante, I’ve taken multiple classes, earned my Ballard Scholar, and even convinced three of my friends to get involved with the Ballard Center too!

The Ballard Center has taught me how to be an advocate and influencer for the causes I care about. It has taught me how to make a difference. In fact, it’s taught me what making a difference actually looks like. Ultimately, the center has completely changed my college experience. So, here’s my advice: If anyone accidentally signed up for MSB 375 instead of Marketing 201, I hope you’ll consider leaving your schedule alone. I promise you won’t regret it.

Will Pham
Will Pham

Media Contact: Alicia Gettys (801) 422-5283
Writer: Will Pham