The Power of Sticking Together

PROVO, Utah – Jan 08, 2021 – Identifying a fellow BYU student or alumni out in the world is often easy, especially if you can spot Cougar merchandise, from sweatshirts to baseball caps to car decals. For information systems (IS) students from the BYU Marriott School of Business, in addition to wearing their BYU Cougars gear, there’s something else that helps them recognize not only other IS students but also their fellow graduates—the hexagon-shaped stickers unique to the IS program. 

The program created the stickers in 2018 to help foster unity among the students. “A few years ago, the IS department wanted to build up the community in the IS program to help students connect with other students who might not be in their classes,” says Ashlyn Lewis, the department administrator for the information systems program at BYU Marriott. “To accomplish this, we created stickers that students could put on various items they owned, such as their personal computer or water bottles.” 

For some students, the stickers have indeed become a quick way to connect with their IS peers. “Occasionally, I meet someone else who was in the IS program who I haven't met before. While we may not know each other, we can instantly recognize our connection because of the stickers on my laptop,” says Sam Povar, a second-year MISM student from Ontario, Oregon.   

All IS students receive four basic hexagonal stickers when they enter the program: a BYU sticker, a BYU Marriott sticker, an IS program sticker, and an IS core sticker. During each remaining year they also receive an additional sticker that corresponds to the year of their program. “The rest of the stickers are earned in a way similar to a merit badge,” Lewis says. “When students participate in or complete certain activities, such as their final projects at the end of the semester, they can earn the sticker that corresponds with that milestone.” 

Additionally, some classes have unique stickers, but students usually need to go the extra mile to earn those. “The course stickers have fun designs; for example, the one for the machine learning class depicts half a brain and half a cogwheel,” says Lewis. “Not every student who takes the class will receive the course sticker, though. Typically, they have to do something kind of above and beyond in the class. The professors choose how they want to distribute their rewards.”  

These course stickers often act as extra motivators for students to excel in their classes. “My favorite sticker is the one I received in my cybersecurity class,” says Povar. “We were studying cryptography, and there was a class-wide challenge to see who could solve a series of ciphers the fastest. My teammate and I won, and we received the coveted sticker. I say this somewhat jokingly, but I feel like I worked harder to get that sticker than a good grade in that class.”   

Since many of the stickers represent student accomplishments, the sticky tokens can act as conversation starters. “The stickers are a way for the students to showcase what they’ve done and the different skills or knowledge they’ve acquired through the program,” says Lewis. For Povar, this is often true. “I prominently display all my stickers on the outside of my laptop. Whenever I take my laptop somewhere, people always ask where I got so many stickers that fit together, which provides a fun opportunity to talk about the IS program and some of my accomplishments in it. I have somewhat of an obsession with the stickers,” he admits.  

For Emma Haynes, a junior from Brisbane, Australia, who recently entered the program, the stickers motivate her to participate in program activities. “The stickers encourage students like me to be invested and be a part of the IS program instead of just going through the motions without getting involved in anything,” she says.  

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the IS stickers remind Haynes that she’s not just in a program—she’s part of a community, surrounded by fellow students and faculty who are there to support her. “In this time when it’s easy to feel alone, the stickers are a visual representation of the fact that I am still connected to people in the IS program,” says Haynes. “The stickers remind us students that information systems is not just a subject we study for our degree, it’s also a sign that we’re part of a bigger community made up of amazing students, alumni, and professors. The stickers remind me of how proud I am to be part of this wonderful program.”  

There are many different stickers that IS students can collect by excelling in certain classes and participating in competitions. Graphic courtesy of Ashyln Lewis.
Some students put the stickers on their water bottles. Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Lewis.
Some students put the stickers on their water bottles. Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Lewis.
Other students choose to put the stickers on their laptops. Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Lewis
Other students choose to put the stickers on their laptops. Photo courtesy of Ashlyn Lewis.

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