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Student Experiences

Students from BYU Marriott Nonprofit Minor Bring Home Top Honors

Kansas City, Missouri, is home to a number of things, including slow-cooked barbeque, a rich jazz-and-blues scene, and the Kansas City Chiefs, recently crowned as Super Bowl LIV champions.

However, for thirty-three BYU students, the city held a different attraction this past January. Joining over thirty other universities across the nation, students of the BYU Marriott nonprofit management minor took top honors at the forty-seventh annual Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Conference. The conference focuses on education, and attendance is an important milestone in becoming a certified nonprofit professional (CNP).

BYU Marriott nonprofit minor students at the Nonprofit Alliance Leadership Conference.
BYU Marriott nonprofit minor students at the Nonprofit Alliance Leadership Conference.
Photo courtesy of Brad Harris.

The conference schedule consisted a variety of activities including breakout sessions, hands-on volunteering in the Kansas City area, and a little dose of healthy competition between university groups. The students representing BYU took home awards from each category in which they participated, including first place in the undergraduate research and best practices categories. Additionally, the BYU group took third place in the trends and innovations category, a new category for the conference this year.

Along with the group awards received by the BYU students, Brad Harris, BYU Marriott professor of experience design and management (ExDM) and the BYU campus director for the Nonprofit Alliance, was named the Campus Partner of Excellence. This award is given to college campus faculty members with the most CNP recipients each year and highlights Harris’s deep support for the students' involvement. “The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Conference helps students see the big picture and excites them more,” Harris says. “The students want to serve and make a difference.”

As part of the conference activities, all students attending the conference participated in a special event called Change the World Day. The all-day event was created by conference organizers specifically to help nonprofits in the greater Kansas City area. Conference attendees dispersed to twenty-five Kansas City nonprofits to assist in addressing specific problems for each organization. The total manpower calculated to approximately $50,000 of donated labor.

Jena Burgess, a BYU senior from Cypress, Texas, studying political science, explains the impact that participating in Change the World Day had on her. “Change the World Day was a unique experience to consult with world-class organizations on social issues that go beyond region or culture barriers,” says Burgess. “Working with students from across the country to find common ground was amazing.”

Brad Harris receives the Campus Partner of Excellence Award.
Brad Harris receives the Campus Partner of Excellence Award.
Photo courtesy of Brad Harris.

In addition to the hands-on experience with the local organizations, conference participants had the opportunity to hear and learn from multiple experts in the nonprofit field, including Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum, and Kishshana Palmer, a career-management motivational speaker.

Kjerstin Roberts, an ExDM senior from Highland, Utah, expressed gratitude to BYU Marriott in particular for the unique opportunity the school provides to participate in the annual event. “The conference made me realize how grateful I am to be at BYU Marriott,” says Roberts. “We have so many amazing opportunities and such a large presence in nonprofits all across the United States.”

The nonprofit management minor offered at BYU Marriott enables students, like those who participated in the conference, to cultivate skills that are necessary to become leaders and influencers in the nonprofit world. Students who participate in the minor gain experiential learning opportunities in fundraising development, working with volunteers, and writing grants while recognizing the positive impact they can have in the nonprofit sector.


Writer: Erin Kratzer