From Pakistan to Provo
PROVO, Utah – Dec 13, 2022 – People come from all over the world to study at BYU, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy transition, especially for students who do not belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the culture of BYU was foreign to Omer Malik, the 2012 finance alumnus of the BYU Marriott School of Business embraced his time at BYU and now bleeds blue.
Malik grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, but he wanted to study in the United States. As a Muslim, Malik says even though he belongs to a different religion than the majority of students on campus, studying at BYU felt like the right choice. Malik started at BYU in 2008. “The values I had been brought up with were in sync with the values BYU provided,” he says.
While similarities exist between Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ, adapting to the culture of BYU takes effort. “BYU does an excellent job helping students who are not members of the church feel comfortable with the beliefs and culture on campus,” Malik says. BYU requires students who are not members to take Religion C 100: Introduction to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This class helped Malik acclimate to life in Provo.
“The class was the perfect way to meet other people at BYU who came from similar backgrounds and an effective way to integrate into the culture of the school,” he says. “I was fortunate to take all of my religion classes from professors who were keener to learn about me than I was to learn about the church,” Malik says. The professors’ sincere interest in learning more about Malik and his beliefs made the religion coursework at BYU a positive experience for him.
During his freshman year at BYU, Malik made the decision to study at BYU Marriott. “The business school was always attractive to me,” Malik says. “I was amazed by how professional the students looked coming out of the Tanner Building.” He decided to study finance and started the program his sophomore year.
Once in the business school, Malik began to understand and appreciate how committed BYU Marriott professors are to giving back to the university. “A lot of the professors come back to BYU after achieving so much in their professional careers,” he says. “They return and share their real-life experiences, which helps students prepare for life post graduation.”
Malik graduated from BYU Marriott in 2012 and accepted a job in Covington, Georgia, as a financial analyst with CR Bard. He credits BYU for how quickly he found a job. “This goes without saying, but BYU Marriott students leave with one of the best networks ever. Graduates of the school exist all over the country,” he observes. Malik says you can walk out of BYU and find a job almost anywhere.
For international graduates, the road to staying in the United States is complicated. Malik believes his status as a BYU Marriott alum helped him in that process immensely. “You need to find an employer who trusts you enough to spend an insane amount of money on legal fees to secure you a visa,” he says. Malik believes his education played a large part in inspiring confidence in his managers. “The people who hired me believed in me because BYU believed in me.”
After starting his career as a finance analyst in Georgia, Malik decided to return to Utah, his “home away from home," as he calls it. He now works as a senior finance director at Route, a company located in Lehi, Utah. “My career has always been on an upward trajectory, and I take a lot of pride in that,” he says. “Navigating all of the legal hurdles as an immigrant becomes tricky, and the temptation always exists to give up that trajectory to settle for more stability by leaving the United States.”
Being back in Utah opens new doors for Malik to give back to international students at BYU. Because he knows the challenges international graduates face, Malik hopes to support those students who stand where he once stood. While challenges certainly exist, Malik knows success is possible for students following in his footsteps.
Malik points out that regardless of where you’re from or what faith you belong to, “If you’re a BYU student, you’re as much a part of BYU as anyone from Provo, Utah.” He wants international students to succeed and understand that they are as much a part of BYU as anyone else.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kaelin Hagen