The Student Who Became the Teacher

PROVO, Utah – Apr 09, 2021 – While pondering on a hill outside the BYU Jerusalem Center during her post-graduation study abroad in 2019, Katy Reese felt overcome by a sense of peace about her future. Now, nearly two years later as an assistant teaching professor of information systems (IS) at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Reese recognizes how God’s hand led her to teaching at BYU.

After graduating from BYU Marriott with her MISM degree in 2019, Reese moved to Houston to work as a cloud identity engineer at ExxonMobil. Although she loved her job in Houston, she realized that she wanted something different out of her career. “I felt prompted multiple times to reach out to my former professors about exploring a PhD,” she recalls. “I kept putting off contacting them because I didn’t feel like a PhD would be a good fit for me.

“Finally, one night in February 2020, I emailed my professors and asked them for advice about how I could earn my PhD,” Reese continues. The teaching aspect of becoming a professor felt more compelling to her than the research aspect. “Some professors told me that I might not enjoy earning a PhD because most information systems PhD programs primarily focus on research. However, they also added that if I was mostly interested in teaching, some teaching positions don’t require a PhD.”

Reese’s former professors acknowledged that such positions were uncommon and usually required more experience. However, later in 2020, the IS department contacted her and asked her to apply for an open full-time position as an assistant teaching professor at BYU Marriott. The request caught her by surprise, but she applied and was hired shortly after.

The department’s reasons for hiring Reese stemmed from her ability to relate to the students and her concise teaching methods. “I think the department liked the way I taught concepts clearly and effectively,” she explains. “I also had experience in the workforce and understood real-life applications of the skills students learn in the classroom.”

The IS faculty also believed that Reese could effectively encourage more students to join the IS program. “As someone who once doubted my own capabilities as an undergrad, I strive to inspire pre-management students, who are still deciding if they should apply to the IS program,” she says. “In fact, I often tell my students about my own journey into the program. When I took IS 201, I felt intimidated because I thought everyone grasped the subject better than I did. However, later in the semester, I realized that I understood the concepts well enough, and I enjoyed completing my IS assignments and homework.” Reese’s love of IS emboldened her to eventually apply to the undergraduate and MISM program, which set in motion the events that led to her current career.

Now, as Reese teaches IS 115 and 201, the introductory IS courses required for most business majors, she encounters and tries to assure students who share the same fears about falling short of their professors’ expectations. “I love sharing my story,” Reese says. “I want students to know that if they are interested in IS, they can be successful in the subject—as long as they are willing to try and put in the necessary work.” She hopes to empower her students by giving them the confidence to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations.

Above all else, Reese strives to emphasize in her lectures that her students should trust in God. “If you had asked me about my future while I was a junior core student or even a graduate student, I never would’ve guessed that I’d be teaching at BYU Marriott at this point in my life,” she says. “I experienced plenty of ups and downs—moments where I felt elated and moments where I burst into tears because I didn't know how my career was going to work out. At the end of the day, I tell my students: the key is to trust God and just keep moving forward. If you do that, everything eventually works out.”

Katy Reese
Katy Reese

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