Serving Up Love

PROVO, Utah – Aug 19, 2020 – For many people, food is a language of comfort, love, and bonding. Clarissa Keller, a senior studying human resource management at the BYU Marriott School of Business, shares her love through plates of food, days at work, and conversations with friends. Keller aims to translate this language of love across every aspect of her life, including her work as a future HR professional.

Keller’s love for food started at a young age when she learned to cook alongside her mother. “My mom is from Puerto Rico, and my way of bonding with her was standing with her in the kitchen and asking a million questions as we cooked together,” Keller says. “She taught me everything I know about cooking Hispanic food, from cooking arroz con habichuelas, flan, tostones, and pernil to so much more.”

Keller’s love of food has translated into a way to serve those around her. “In the Hispanic culture, food brings everyone together,” she says. “I always tell my friends that my love language is food because I feel so much joy sharing my love with others by making them too much food and talking with them.”

When she started at BYU, Keller wanted to find a career path that would provide that same kind of joy. When she discovered the human resources program at BYU Marriott, she realized that helping people be more effective at work matched up perfectly with these goals. “I want to refine processes and make work the best place that it can be,” she says. “Almost everyone needs to work, so they might as well do that work in a loving, supportive environment.”

Keller hoped to blend her desires for a successful career and a supportive office environment when she accepted a summer internship in Nebraska with Union Pacific, a company that delivers products via railroad. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed her plans when the subsequent economic challenges that Union Pacific faced forced the company to cut hundreds of jobs, including Keller’s internship.

When Keller learned that she would no longer have the opportunity to complete an internship with Union Pacific, she initially struggled to feel confident that she’d find a summer internship opportunity. In addition to looking for a new job during a confusing and uncertain time, Keller had to unexpectedly move back to Kansas where her family lived.

“When I found out that I wouldn’t be able to work for Union Pacific, I felt a cognitive dissonance between my heart and my mind,” she says. “On one hand, I felt like everything was going to be okay and that other opportunities would come. On the other hand, I felt like I was not going to be okay.”

Keller rose to the new challenges by continuing to network and look for more opportunities while also moving to Kansas to live with her family for a few months. She eventually found an internship with the help of BYU Marriott organizational behavior and human resources professor Troy Nielson. Keller has moved back to Utah and now works as a benefits intern with SonicWall, a cybersecurity company located in Lehi.

Throughout the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller has focused on the positives of this unpredictable time. “Some good has come out of this crazy time,” she says. “I enjoy my work at SonicWall, and I got to spend quality time with my family when I lived in Kansas with them.”

In the future, Keller’s recipe for success will involve sharing food and positivity with those around her as she shapes her career. “My biggest career aspiration is to be the person who you can approach with any questions or concerns that you might have. I want people to know that no matter what, they can come to me, and I’ll help them,” she says.

BYU Marriott HRM student Clarissa Keller
BYU Marriott HRM student Clarissa Keller. Photo courtesy of Clarissa Keller
Keller and some friends go bowling on BYU campus
Clarissa Keller and some friends go bowling at the Wilkinson Student Center. Photo courtesy of Clarissa Keller.
Clarissa Keller and her mom
Keller and her mom. Photo courtesy of Clarissa Keller

Media Contact: Chad Little: (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce