Fulfilling a Decades-Old Dream

PROVO, Utah – Mar 16, 2022 – Growing up, Shannon Peterson always wanted to attend BYU. However, finances prevented her from pursuing that option. Despite that, Peterson never gave up on her dream, which she is now fulfilling 25 years later as a student in the executive MBA (EMBA) program at the BYU Marriott School of Business.

Peterson did apply to BYU out of high school but only received a partial scholarship. She also applied to Weber State University, and when she learned the school offered an affordable bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, she opted to attend Weber. Peterson graduated in 1995 as a certified dental hygienist.

While she enjoyed working as a dental hygienist, Peterson’s desire to spend more time with her growing family of four kids and to pursue a new interest led her to consider a more flexible job. After 17 years as a hygienist, Peterson entered the world of entrepreneurship. Her husband, Robert, had been starting companies in real estate, fundraising, and business services, so Peterson joined him and began managing the day-to-day operations of their family businesses. “Initially, I was just doing what was best for my family, but I have learned so much and have had many valuable experiences,” she explains.

As a manager of startups, Peterson felt the need to earn an MBA to strengthen her business knowledge and increase her confidence. BYU Marriott’s EMBA program allows Peterson to take classes without pausing her work responsibilities. “Being able to immediately apply what I’m learning and take classroom principles to the office the next day is so valuable to my businesses,” she says.

While BYU Marriott is teaching her the skills she was looking for, Peterson’s confidence in her preexisting abilities is also increasing. “The EMBA program validates me and helps me to be more confident in the skills that I obtained over the years,” she continues.

Peterson is grateful for the impact the EMBA program has made in her life, but she says her journey to BYU Marriott was equally impactful. When Peterson was choosing where to earn her MBA, BYU Marriott was a frontrunner. However, she still had to study for and pass the GMAT, which was particularly challenging because taking a standardized test felt daunting to her after being out of school for so long. With the support and encouragement of her family and friends, she worked hard and was thrilled when she was accepted into BYU Marriott’s EMBA program.

The experience of finally fulfilling her lifelong dream of attending BYU and striving to make that dream come true is a story Peterson likes to share with others. “I’m happy to be at BYU because I’m making all my hopes a reality,” Peterson says. “I tell people, ‘We have dreams in life, and just because those dreams don’t happen in a certain order doesn’t mean they need to die.’”

Beyond expanding her business knowledge, growing her confidence, and achieving her goals, Peterson has benefited from her EMBA program in other ways. With fellow classmate David Spencer, she started a new artificial intelligence company, Woobie, that specializes in supporting small businesses. The pair hopes the startup, which is launching its first product in the dental industry because of Peterson’s experience as a dental hygienist, joins the growing list of Utah’s Silicon Slopes tech companies.

“Starting Woobie is another dream come true,” explains Peterson. “I have always wanted to start my own business and see it become a large company. Our family’s companies are wonderful but are all only small businesses.”

When setting goals for her entrepreneurial efforts, Peterson focuses on how those efforts can benefit others. As someone who changed her educational plans because of finances, she understands the impact creating a successful business can have on others’ lives. “I hope to provide jobs and means for people to be able to take care of themselves and their families,” she says. “I want to give others opportunities for sustainable work.”

BYU Marriott EMBA student Shannon Peterson. Photo courtesy of Glen Ricks Photography Inc.
BYU Marriott EMBA student Shannon Peterson. Photo courtesy of Glen Ricks Photography Inc.
Peterson and her family, including her husband Robert, whom she manages several businesses with. Photo courtesy of Glen Ricks Photography Inc.
Peterson and her family, including her husband Robert, with whom she manages several businesses. Photo courtesy of Glen Ricks Photography Inc.

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