On a Mission to Cause Change
PROVO, Utah – Aug 02, 2021 – When she was eleven years old, Autumn Clark read an article about modern-day slavery and felt something spark within her. From that moment on, she became passionate about social innovation and making a difference in the lives of others. This interest eventually led her to the information systems (IS) program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, where she now strives to solve problems using her technological expertise.
The article that inspired Clark, titled “21st-Century Slavery,” was from the September 2003 issue of National Geographic and detailed several forms of modern slavery that still exist around the world, including debt slavery, which traps victims into unpaid, forced labor. The impact of the article stuck with Clark as she grew older. When Clark entered BYU as a freshman, she remembered the problems presented in the article and felt drawn toward contributing to social impact initiatives on campus.
“The article opened my eyes and helped me recognize how blessed I am,” Clark explains. “Reading that story has motivated me throughout my life to find ways to alleviate problems that less-fortunate people face. I became particularly interested in how a person’s lack of educational opportunity can lead to poverty and other social issues.” To be more involved with these issues, Clark, a native of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, joined events and classes run by the Ballard Center for Social Impact at BYU Marriott.
While interacting with other participants at the Ballard Center, Clark admired the way students prioritized collaboration. While she was unsure about her major at the time, she knew she wanted to pursue a technology-related career field. “I believe that technology is the deciding factor in whether or not people have access to good education,” she says. “I decided to choose a tech-focused career so I could better contribute to causes that educate others and help lift them out of poverty.” When Clark realized that BYU Marriott’s IS program could offer her both technological expertise and an environment focused on teamwork, she knew she had found the right major.
Now as a second-year MISM student, Clark strives to make an impact using her collaborative skills, especially through her capstone project. The project, called OkWellThen, is an online platform comprised of pricing information from several Utah hospitals. She thought of the idea for the project while taking a healthcare industry dynamics course. Clark shares that for her one of the notable takeaways from the class was a better understanding of the lack of pricing transparency in health care.
“For any other major purchase an individual makes in life, they can find plenty of pricing information beforehand, which helps them make the best financial decision,” she says. “The healthcare industry didn’t provide that kind of financial information to consumers. I created a platform with my peers called OkWellThen, where we compiled the information into a more accessible format.”
In early 2021, however, legislation passed in the United States that now requires hospitals to publish their pricing data, which slightly shifted the focus of Clark’s project. “The hospitals now share pricing data; however, the information is often written in a confusing manner, using medical jargon that most people don’t understand to describe procedures,” Clark explains. “My team and I organized data from seven Utah hospitals into simpler terms so the pricing information is easier for people to sort through.”
This has been a fun and challenging project for Clark and her team to work on, and she has participated in a number of additional experiences in the IS program that also focused on team collaboration. One of her favorite memories during her time at BYU Marriott was when she entered a case competition hosted by Adobe. Her team took first place, and her success in the competition opened the door to her first internship with Adobe as a solutions architect intern. “The Adobe competition was a fantastic example of the collaborative and interdisciplinary opportunities BYU Marriott offers,” Clark says.
As Clark prepares to graduate in December 2021, she looks forward to finding additional collaborative opportunities in her career that will allow her to make an impact. “My experiences at BYU Marriott, coupled with my technical skills learned in the IS program, have provided me with a robust education and unforgettable memories,” she says. “As I move forward, I hope to combine my knowledge and talents to cause change in areas of social issues that are personally significant to me.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert