Giving Back to Give Thanks
PROVO, Utah – Jun 16, 2021 – Teamwork is an important part of any business, whether on a small hay farm or in a large hospital. For Preston Willey, a BYU Marriott School of Business finance senior from Midway, Utah, the benefits of teamwork are personal because medical teams helped him beat cancer. Now he is striving to give back by connecting the principles learned from a childhood job to the classroom and the medical field.
After returning home from the Chile Concepción South mission in 2017, Willey’s world changed when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer before his freshman year at BYU. He spent countless hours undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and other medical treatments, all while juggling the demands of a college education. After an arduous three-year process, Willey is grateful for the medical teamwork that enabled him to be cancer free.
Beating cancer sparked Willey’s interest in the medical field and led to his goal of attending medical school after he graduates from BYU Marriott. “My experience with cancer instilled profound gratitude for the individuals who cared for me, and I feel compelled to alleviate the suffering of others that are dealing with illness or injury,” he says. “I have benefited from the work and dedication of many healthcare industry professionals, and I hope to contribute to the mission of providing quality healthcare to those in need.” His interest in the medical field has led him to a variety of jobs in that sector, including his current remote internship with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he is doing work in the Hospital-at-Home space, which seeks to move care from the hospital to the patient’s home.
The BYU Marriott alumni network helped Willey land his internship this summer. At Massachusetts General, he is working for Dr. Jared Conley, a BYU graduate, who paid particular attention to Willey’s application because of his enrollment at BYU Marriott. Willey says that “being a student at BYU Marriott and in the finance program, at least in the BYU network, just opens so many doors. BYU Marriott just has such a strong reputation for producing students who are hardworking and ethical. I’ve felt like it’s opened doors for me just to be a part of the Marriott school and finance program.”
An important part of the BYU Marriott alumni network is teamwork, Willey says. “I feel like networking is really tied to teamwork. You support each other, and the network is a support system that helps us achieve our goals and find opportunities.” Teamwork is something he is used to, as he ran a hay company with his brothers as a teenager. Willey and his brothers leased a field near their home in Midway and grew hay, which was sold to local farmers.
Owning his own business helped Willey learn hard work, goal setting, and how to work well with others. The hay company also gave him the desire to study finance, as he enjoyed running a business. Starting a hay company was daunting at first as his family signed a seven-year lease when Willey was only twelve years old. Despite this large commitment, Willey and his brothers ran a successful operation and learned invaluable lessons. He says that this experience helped him prepare for BYU Marriott, which emphasizes teamwork in the classroom.
The teamwork-centered classroom setting at BYU Marriott is helping Willey prepare for medical school, even if some people do not see the connection between business and medicine right away. Willey shares that BYU Marriott emphasizes the importance of people and other soft skills, which are crucial in any profession and are refined through group learning opportunities. Willey credits these skills for helping him land his current research internship, along with other opportunities he has had during his time in the finance program. Additionally, he explains that understanding the business aspect of medicine gave him a leg up in his research this summer.
Willey explains that BYU Marriott assists students with an interest in working in the medical field in a variety of ways, including through the BYU Healthcare Industry Association, which prepares students for future careers in the healthcare system. Willey is currently the vice president of marketing for the club, where he oversees outreach and recruitment. Prior to this last school year, the club was independent, so Willey and his fellow officers had to do much of the heavy lifting on their own. The club has now joined BYU Marriott as an officially sponsored organization, which allows it to tap into the vast network and resources of the school. Willey noticed an increase in outreach and networking opportunities for him and his fellow club members after this transition.
Willey believes his experience with teamwork whether working with doctors, classmates, or his family—has brought him to where he is today, and knows those experiences will continue to guide him in the future as he works towards his goal of giving back through medicine.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller