The iMPAct of Connecting Online

PROVO, Utah – May 27, 2021 – Though students at the BYU Marriott School of Business haven’t been able to meet together in person like they normally would, students in the EMPA program managed to get “together” anyway. The group met online for the semi-annual Winter 2021 iMPAct Night to strengthen MPA program connections.    

The event began with the students meeting together on a Zoom video conference to open a small care package; the packages had been sent from the program to each student earlier. Each package contained small gifts to promote self-care including a mindfulness book, healthy snacks, and a moisturizing face mask. “The care package was a thoughtful gift,” says Marissa Croshaw, a third-year EMPA student from Sandy, Utah.   

The brief greeting and gift opening were followed by two breakout sessions, during which students were able to meet with two MPA alumni of their choice. The groups were small, with only about ten students each, which encouraged relaxed conversation between the students and the alum. “What I found most beneficial was participating in the small groups,” Raquel Petrus, a first-year EMPA student who grew up in Haiti, New York, and Utah, says. “I felt like the speaker could truly connect and share advice with the EMPA students.”  

Because this was the first time the event was held online, students had the opportunity to meet with alumni who live as far away as Washington, DC. Tanya Harmon, BYU Marriott MPA career services director and an organizer of the event, says that this ability to connect with MPA alumni from across the United States was a benefit of holding an online event.  

The seven alumni who met with students at the event included:  

  • Dave Hull, Neuroworks executive director   
  • Kim Rodela, city council member of Highland, Utah  
  • John Arnold, Arizona Board of Regents executive director  
  • Laura Kaloi, Stride Policy Solutions partner  
  • Ryan Starks, Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development managing director  
  • Francine Giani Luczak, retired executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce 
  • Andrew Marshall, Partnership for Public Service director for leadership development   

Croshaw enjoyed hearing from Luczak, who shared about how she didn’t follow the traditional career path to her current position. “One of the takeaways from Luczak’s remarks was to be open to every opportunity,” says Croshaw. “The skills my peers and I are developing in the EMPA program will help open those doors. Luczak took the opportunity to open those doors for herself. She had the skills from our program and was able to make a career out of it.”   

In the end, Harmon hopes that the students left the event having a greater affinity to their EMPA peers and new alumni network. “We want the students to feel like they’re a part of the MPA program family,” she says. “And we want them to continue to feel cared about and be connected.”

EMPA students gathered virturally for the Winter 2021 iMPAct Night.
EMPA students gathered virturally for the Winter 2021 iMPAct Night.
EMPA students were sent care packages by the MPA program.
EMPA students were sent care packages by the MPA program.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Rebecca Nissen