Fulfilling Her Commitment to Serve

PROVO, Utah – Mar 21, 2022 – When Carmela Bristain was 15 years old, she graduated from high school, which was normal in her home country of the Philippines. At such a young age, she wasn’t sure what to study in college, but her mother, who noticed Bristain’s knack for logic-based subjects such as math, suggested she pursue accounting. Bristain followed her mother’s advice, which eventually led her to the Cardon International Sponsorship (CIS) from the Whitmore Global Business Center (GBC) at the BYU Marriott School of Business.

Bristain, a December 2021 MAcc graduate from the School of Accountancy (SOA), credits her mother with helping guide her academic career choices. “My mom wanted me to enter an accounting program not only because of my logical reasoning skills but also because accounting is a practical and reliable career,” explains Bristain. “The Philippines has a lot of economic growth challenges and not many job opportunities, but accountants can usually find jobs anywhere. I initially went into accounting simply to make my parents happy, but as I started studying the subject, I enjoyed learning the material.” 

Bristain studied accounting for three years in the Philippines before serving a mission from 2014–2016 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served the first part of her mission in her home country and the latter part in London. After returning home, she transferred to BYU–Hawaii, where she earned her bachelor’s degree of accountancy in 2020.

She wasn’t planning on starting a master program for a few more years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bristain was still in the United States and couldn’t return home to the Philippines. She began exploring her options, which included potential graduate programs. 

While researching, she stumbled upon information about the MAcc and CIS programs at BYU Marriott. She had a few questions about the MAcc program and sent an email, along with her résumé, to Scott Hobson, the associate director of the SOA. Shortly after, she filled out an application for the MAcc program and checked the box that asked if she wanted to also apply to the CIS program. After Bristain submitted her application, she was accepted into the MAcc program.

After Bristain received her acceptance, Jonathon Wood, CIS director and managing director of the GBC, called her to do an interview. “I had decided that if I was accepted into the MAcc program but not the CIS program, I would postpone earning my graduate degree because I had just started working and didn’t have enough savings,” Bristain explains.

Bristain was thrilled when she was accepted into the CIS program, which provides loans for international applicants to BYU Marriott’s graduate programs. The loans cover living expenses and costs for tuition, textbooks, and health insurance, and allow students to delay repayment of the loans until after graduation. However, sponsorship recipients can potentially receive loan forgiveness if they fulfill their CIS commitments by working in their home countries after finishing their graduate programs.

In addition to providing Bristain with the financial means to earn her MAcc, the CIS program also motivated her to become a better leader. Her favorite class was MBA 693R: Leadership and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Becoming a Disciple-Leader, taught by BYU Marriott NAC Professor of Business Kim Clark. “The class aligned with the mission of the CIS, since we are asked to become leaders when we go back home,” says Bristain. “I enjoyed that class because I learned how to be a more Christlike leader, primarily by focusing on serving the people I lead.” 

Bristain plans to return to the Philippines and keep her CIS commitment to work and serve in her home country. “I want to start my own business that provides jobs to the less fortunate,” she says. “I’m passionate about this because of my parents’ personal experiences. They didn’t finish school, and while they had skills, they did not have education. Because of that, finding a high paying job that could support me and my siblings was always difficult for them.

“I want to provide a way to help other people find jobs by either connecting them to my networks or by providing jobs myself as a business owner,” she continues. “While that doesn’t seem like the typical career path for someone with accounting degrees, the additional skills I have gained from my time in the School of Accountancy will help me in numerous aspects of running a business. I hope that, no matter what profession I chose, I can keep my CIS commitment to be a leader in my community.”

Carmela Bristain recently graduated from the MAcc program at BYU Marriott. She plans to return to her home country, the Philippines, and become a business leader. Photo courtesy of Carmela Bristain.
Carmela Bristain recently graduated from the MAcc program at BYU Marriott. She plans to return to her home country, the Philippines, and become a business leader. Photo courtesy of Carmela Bristain.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert