BYU Marriott's MPA Program Honors Two Students with the 2019 Buckwalter Award

PROVO, Utah – Mar 05, 2020 – Two talented BYU Marriott MPA students recently received the 2019 Doyle W. Buckwalter Award for their accomplishments in their internships. Ryan Lancaster and Theary Leng were recognized at the annual Alumnus of the Year luncheon, where they received their award and a cash prize of $2,000.

Lancaster, a second-year student from Huntington Beach, California, received the Buckwalter award after finishing an internship with the city of Kenmore, Washington, as its management graduate intern. Through the internship, he was able to work with city manager Robert Karlinsey on various projects. One of the more meaningful experiences Lancaster had was contributing to research for a new tax levy that would eventually help fund up to $10 million of capital repairs for a senior center in the area.

According to Lancaster, what helped him best prepare for this internship was the financial education he received in the MPA program. “The program recently hired David Matkin as an associate professor, and he can teach finance to anyone,” he says. “I was scared about finance when I came to the program, but he made it easy to understand. Now I feel competent in finance and believe it is a strength of mine. I took the skills I learned in that class and directly applied them to my internship.”

Lancaster discovered his love for public administration after serving his mission in Billings, Montana. While there, he saw sparsely populated cities that had crumbling infrastructures and unsafe water. He saw problems that he wanted to fix, which ultimately sparked his interest in urban planning. This experience led him to receive his BS in urban planning from BYU and pursue his MPA at BYU Marriott. Lancaster hopes to follow his passion for public service by becoming a city manager within the next five to ten years.

For her internship, Leng, a second-year student from Kampong Cham, Cambodia, went back to her home country to work with the Cambodia Job Foundation. The purpose of the nonprofit foundation is to help the people of Cambodia become more self-reliant through receiving grants to start their own businesses. Leng was given the task of reviewing grant applications and deciding who would be approved. Along with this task, she had the opportunity to lead business trainings for grant applicants and mentor those who were given grants to help them find further success with their businesses.

As a young girl growing up in a third-world country, Leng developed a desire to help her people; however, she knew that to achieve her goal she would need to pursue an education. “I learned that making a difference starts with you not somebody else,” she says. “If you want to change the world, start by changing your own world first.”

For Leng, the award couldn’t have come at a better time. “As an international student, the financial needs are always great,” she says. “Receiving the $2,000 when I did was a huge blessing. The award money has helped me pay off the majority of my tuition, so I am grateful for that.” When it comes to her future career, Leng is interested in nonprofits, education, and international development.

The Doyle W. Buckwalter Internship award is an annual award that recognizes second year students for their outstanding performance in their internships.

Ryan Lancaster
Ryan Lancaster
Theary Leng
Theary Leng

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalie Heidemann