Following the Power of Potential

PROVO, Utah – Nov 15, 2021 – When Camilla Hodge graduated from BYU with a degree in communications, she never imagined she would return to the university 14 years later as a professor. Hodge’s life has been characterized by meaningful connections, including those that led to her career change and new teaching position at the BYU Marriott School of Business. In her new role, she looks forward to helping her students feel connected in the classroom as she teaches in the experience design and management (ExDM) program.

Hodge completed her bachelor’s degree in 2007 and began working, as she expected, in communications when she took a job at a small marketing agency in Salt Lake City. While she enjoyed her job, she wanted more opportunities to use the writing skills she’d gained from her journalism emphasis as a communications undergraduate. Hodge’s desire to write more led her to freelance for a Utah-based online magazine focusing on outdoor recreation.

For one of her stories, she interviewed Mark Widmer, a BYU Marriott ExDM professor. Widmer told Hodge about a recent study abroad trip he’d led to the South Pacific. This interview stirred something inside of Hodge and she began to seriously consider becoming a professor so she could lead students on their own study abroad trips. Hodge realized she wanted to be a part of unique, life-changing experiences in places she felt passionate about.

Shortly after connecting with Widmer, Hodge had another experience that cemented her desire to become a professor, specifically in Widmer’s field of recreation management. In addition to her work with the marketing agency, Hodge worked a second job at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for youth. The program relied on outdoor recreation as a way to help individuals make meaningful connections and overcome their addictions.

Outdoor recreation was a long-time hobby for Hodge personally—she went rock climbing nearly every day. Seeing how positive recreation benefited at-risk youth as well as herself helped Hodge realize how studying the field could fit her interests and allow her to impact others.

The marketing agency where Hodge worked folded after the economic recession in 2008. Losing her job was the final sign she needed to return to school with the goal of becoming a professor. In 2011, Hodge graduated with a master’s degree in youth and family recreation from BYU’s School of Family Life. “Returning to BYU was one of the best decisions of my life. My master’s degree was an absolutely fantastic experience,” she says.

Hodge’s time in her master’s program and the connections she made helped cement her love for recreation management. After earning her master’s degree, Hodge continued studying her newfound passion and obtained a PhD in parks, recreation, and tourism management from North Carolina State University in 2014 to further her chances of being a professor.

“The training I received from my master’s degree was fantastic and helped me enter my PhD program more prepared than I ever thought I would be,” Hodge says. With a PhD in hand, she finally fulfilled her goal of becoming a professor; she taught at Penn State University and the University of Utah prior to coming to BYU Marriott.

While she enjoyed her time at other universities, Hodge feels particularly grateful for the opportunity to return to BYU, which holds a special place in her heart. Her path to BYU Marriott came full circle when Widmer led the search team who hired Hodge. She is also joining a study abroad in England later this fall semester to conduct research. “My first study abroad will be amazing. I’ll go over to London to do research on the overall study abroad experience,” Hodge adds.

Hodge looks forward to teaching at BYU Marriott because creating connections with students is one of her favorite parts of teaching. “I love feeling the power of potential when I walk into a classroom,” she continues. “My students have no idea how impressive they are, and I try to remind them of that power.”

In addition to her time in the classroom, Hodge is excited to continue researching the topic that has been influential throughout her life: connections. Her upcoming research, on top of the research she will compile in England, will focus on how to design experiences that create a sense of belonging. She will also join a team of fellow BYU Marriott ExDM professors to focus on the anatomy of connections.

As she prepares for the next step of her career, Hodge expresses gratitude for BYU Marriott’s combined focus on both students and research. “As a faculty we work to create not only meaningful classroom and experiential learning opportunities but also research opportunities that involve students,” she explains. “That balance is something I’ve come to value as a professor.”

The ensured focus on students is important to Hodge, as she says she tries to show care for each student. She is excited to use connections as the root of all meaningful experiences with the students she will teach in the ExDM program. “When I interact with my students, I want them to walk away knowing that they are loved,” Hodge says.

New BYU Marriott ExDM professor Camilla Hodge. Photo courtesy of Camilla Hodge.
New BYU Marriott ExDM professor Camilla Hodge. Photo courtesy of Camilla Hodge.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller