An Education Led by Intuition
PROVO, Utah – Jan 27, 2023 – Chris Coombs enjoys charting his own course. After working for politicians in Utah and studying theology in Boston, Coombs followed his intuition to the MPA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Coombs, a Utah native, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in 2017, where he studied history and political science. During his undergrad, Coombs interned for the offices of various politicians, including Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Attorney General Sean Reyes, and Representative Brad Wilson.
After graduating, Coombs felt inspired to study theology. He moved to Boston and attended a two-year program at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Coombs says he was there because of an academic interest, but he also wanted spiritual guidance in discerning the next steps of his life. After receiving his master of theological studies in 2019, Coombs returned to Salt Lake City and began working for the Republican Party of Utah.
While he was working in the world of politics, Coombs contemplated the possibility of going back to school for his MPA. “I didn’t want to go to the same university I had already earned a degree from; I wanted to branch out,” he says. Though not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Coombs felt that BYU’s curriculum matched his career and educational aspirations, so he acted on his impression, completed an application, and entered the program in 2021.
“I knew other people who weren't members who enjoyed their experience at BYU. It seemed like an adventure, and so I said, ‘Why not?’” Coombs explains. Coming from a Greek Orthodox background, Coombs says he appreciates faith-based institutions. BYU provides Coombs with eye-opening experiences, allowing him to interact with students of different faiths and backgrounds.
For Coombs the environment at BYU Marriott is critical to his learning. “The students are driven, put together, kind, and intelligent, which makes for a vibrant learning environment,” he observes. Compared to other schools, this environment creates a unique camaraderie among students, he says.
In addition to the environment, the structure of the MPA program sparks collaboration and friendship between Coombs and his classmates. “You spend hours with people who you never thought you would interact with,” Coombs says. “If it wasn’t for the MPA program grouping us together, we might never have met and connected.”
Coombs also benefits considerably from the professors in his program. “The professors aren't just here to do a job,” he states. Coombs appreciates that his professors care deeply about the success of each student in addition to the success of the group as a whole. Professors reach out to Coombs to check up on him, and other professors recognize when they need to adapt the material to better suit the needs of the class.
While Coombs isn’t sure what he wants to do after graduating, he knows his time in the MPA program has opened up doors. In the past, his dream job was to be a chief of staff, but now Coombs is open to working in local government. He also hasn’t ruled out law school just yet.
When it comes to the uncertainties of the future, Coombs stresses the importance of listening to your inner voice. “I think you need to chart your own course in life. At the end of the day, nobody knows you better than you,” he explains. “You might not know how things will turn out, but that's what makes life so special. You need to take those risks.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kaelin Hagen