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Student Spotlight

Conquering the Crux

Two weeks into his first semester at Brigham Young University, Aaron Scribner sustained severe facial injuries in a grisly zip-lining accident. Though his injuries altered his life for four months, the experience design and management (ExDM) student at the BYU Marriott School of Business overcame a steep recovery and found a renewed drive to positively impact others.

Scribner pictured in front of rock-climbing gear.
Aaron Scribner is a student in the experience design and management program at BYU Marriott.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Scribner.

Growing up in Orem, Utah, Scribner worked hard to master his hobbies, gaining a strong work ethic in the process. He participated in competitive ballroom dance, practiced long hours on the piano, and gained a passion for outdoor hobbies like rock climbing. “I’m passionate about grit and sticking through something until the end,” he says. “My parents taught me that early and helped me understand that I can do anything.”

On September 12, 2020, Scribner drove up Provo Canyon for a church activity. The group planned an exciting day zip-lining, but the excitement soon turned into an emergency. Scribner took his turn on the zipline, and as the result of a lack of communication, he fell 15 feet and crashed face-first onto a concrete platform. The impact broke his nose, jaw, and wrist; crushed his sinuses and septum; fractured areas around his cheeks and eyes; and gave him a concussion. Medical personnel quickly arrived and transported him to the hospital for emergency surgery.

After many surgeries, Scribner began the long and difficult road to recovery. Because of his mandatory bed rest, he lost his job, withdrew from all of his classes that semester, and drank his meals through a straw. “I watched my entire life take a pause from everything. I had just started to make new friends, experience life as a recently returned missionary, and it was all quickly taken from me,” he says.

Photo of Aaron Scribner with bandages on his face.
Scribner went through a long recovery process after the ziplining accident.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Scribner.

“I tried to figure out why God would let this happen to me," he says. "The more I thought about it, the harder things got emotionally.”

One night Scribner’s emotions rose, and he expressed his frustrations to his parents. Their reply helped him change his perspective. “I learned from my parents that I don’t need to have an explanation for everything that happens to me. For some reason, that was exactly what I needed,” Scribner says. “My dad always taught me to keep my head up and my mom helped me understand that I controlled my own emotions and outlook.”

Now fully recovered and able to eat solid foods, Scribner has made the most of the three years since his accident. “I gained a new confidence to do the things I loved. The accident redesigned my life and gave me what I needed to get me to the place I am now,” he says.

He’s since found renewed energy to resume rock-climbing. Scribner spends countless hours in the climbing gym and even more time climbing outside—weather compliant. He frequently travels throughout Utah and the western United States to find new routes that stretch his skills.

And looking for an opportunity to share his rock-climbing passion, Scribner is exploring the possibility of opening a climbing gym here in Provo. “My cousin and I saw a need for another climbing gym. We began research and now we’re teaming up with other gyms to create more climbing opportunities for people in the area,” he says.

The accident also inspired Scribner to make mentorship an important part of his college experience. He mentors others as a teaching assistant for canyoneering and positive psychology classes. He says, “I try to balance my schoolwork and responsibilities all while being a huge outdoor enthusiast.”

Photo of Scribner rock-climbing in southern Utah.
Scribner enjoys rock climbing in the southwest United States.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Scribner.

Scribner hopes to earn a PhD and work as a professor in the ExDM program so he can combine his two passions—the outdoors and mentorship. “I want to teach others how to develop spiritually and academically and also inspire others how to make outdoor experiences an important part of their lives,” Scribner says.

As Scribner carves his path forward, he looks back on the experience with gratitude. He admits, “Ambulance rides, face surgeries, a semester worth of withdraws, and drinking hamburgers through straws wasn’t the most fun thing in the world.” Even so, Scribner appreciates all he learned in the recovery.

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Written by Jake Holt

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