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Employee Spotlight

Leading A Life of Service

When she ended her 30-year-long career at the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at the BYU Marriott School of Business, emeritus faculty member Gloria Wheeler knew she wanted to continue serving others. Since leaving the institute in 2008, Wheeler has found countless ways to bless the lives of those around her, including serving five full- or part-time missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gloria Wheeler is an emeritus faculty of the MPA program and remains involved with the Romney Institute.
Photo by Brad Slade/BYU.

Before embarking on years’ worth of missions, however, Wheeler served in another way. As she walked out of a class during her last fall semester at BYU Marriott, she realized she wasn’t ready to be done teaching. Wheeler decided to apply to the Fulbright program, which provides educators with grants and opportunities to teach abroad. However, by the time she decided to apply, only a few locations remained.

“For weeks, I debated between applying for Armenia or Mongolia; I wasn’t sure which place to choose,” Wheeler says. “On the night I needed to make my decision, I retrieved the mail, and inside was the December copy of the Ensign.” The cover advertised a story about members of the Church in Mongolia. “When I saw that story, I thought to myself, ‘The Lord is calling me to this place,’ so I submitted my application,” she recalls.

When Wheeler reached Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, she primarily taught night courses in an MBA program. Since the majority of her students were employed, she taught specific skills, including how to use Microsoft Excel, which could be useful in their jobs. Wheeler was also active in her local Church branch and became involved with the senior missionaries serving in Ulaanbaatar. “I loved watching the Church grow,” she says. “I was present when the first stake in Mongolia was created, which was exciting.”

Wheeler with missionaries at the temple in Sapporo, Japan.
Photo courtesy of Gloria Wheeler.

The church service aspect of Wheeler’s time in Mongolia prepared her well for the years ahead. Since returning home from Mongolia, she has served five times, including a service mission with Employment Resource Services in Provo; a mission in Sapporo, Japan; and her current assignment: a service mission for Family Search in Provo. She also served two missions with her sister, first in Sacramento, California, and then in Washington, DC.

As part of her assignment in Sacramento, Wheeler worked with a unique congregation: a Hmong branch. “The Hmong were members of a mountain tribe in Southeast Asia who came to the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War,” she explains.

Even as a missionary, Wheeler found ways to encourage a love for education in those around her. “I helped one Hmong woman with her PhD dissertation—I spent many hours on the phone helping her with her final draft after I returned to Provo. She was excited to become one of the first Hmong women to ever receive a PhD,” she says.

Assisting this woman reminded Wheeler why she loved her work at BYU Marriott: the opportunities to help students. In addition to teaching at the institute, Wheeler has funded a scholarship for MPA students, which she hopes will help support and inspire those students in their careers to lead a life full of service.

Wheeler with her sister, Jane, with whom she has served two missions.
Photo courtesy of Gloria Wheeler.

When Wheeler left BYU Marriott 14 years ago, she may have said goodbye to her classroom, but she didn’t abandon her love of education or her connections to the Romney Institute. “Preparing students for meaningful careers involving service is truly valuable to me,” she says. “I had such a wonderful experience at the Romney Institute, and I try to give back whenever I can.”


Writer: Sarah Calvert