As a student at Brigham Young University, Skylar Oreno is surrounded by high-achieving peers and faculty—a stimulating environment that can also come with high standards and pressures. But Oreno’s unique priorities helped him overcome these pressures, dual major in anthropology and marketing, and transform into the college graduate he couldn’t imagine from his first days on campus.
Oreno’s growth began during his first semester at BYU, where many classes tested his limits. “American Heritage stressed me out of my mind when I started,” Oreno says. The curriculum was challenging, but the high aspirations of his fellow classmates helped him realize his educational priorities.
“Unlike myself, all my classmates mentioned that they wanted to earn A’s,” Oreno says. “I’m not super traditional. Academically, I’ve never met anyone with a lower ACT score than me.”
Not wanting to be overwhelmed by comparing himself to his classmates, Oreno decided to establish other, more personalized, goals. “In my American Heritage class, my goal was to just be a good person,” Oreno says. “To be a good person is to pour myself into my educational pursuits—to get a well-rounded education so that I can help people.”
After finishing the class, American Heritage administrator Kristin Betts offered Oreno a position as an American Heritage teaching assistant (TA). “Working as a TA helped me recognize that I can learn and grow and that I can develop beyond where I currently am,” Oreno explains. “Someone else’s success doesn’t have to look like mine.”
He attributes his TA experience to helping him develop speaking, teaching, and leadership skills. He also gained confidence that he could influence others for good, and he learned to set and pursue lofty academic goals.
Oreno is double majoring in anthropology and marketing, wanting to prioritize people within his education more than any potential income. “It became apparent to me quickly that the purpose of an education is to understand people,” Oreno says.
In his anthropology studies, Oreno researched how Utah’s religious culture impacts interpersonal relationships with people who are unhoused, and he led humanitarian trips in refugee camps in Greece. “Seeing the value in these people, not only despite their differences, but also because of their differences, increased my understanding of them,” Oreno says.
Choosing to combine his anthropology major alongside the marketing program at the BYU Marriott School of Business represents a pragmatic approach to his future career.
“I’ve always had a business mindset. As a kid, when I got fish, coral, or shells from the ocean, I always found ways to sell them to my classmates,” Oreno explains. “The reason I feel drawn to marketing is because I can connect with people. My passion is people.”
This passion for people helped Oreno stay focused on completing a double major. “Some people told me that completing the double major wasn’t necessary, but doing things that don’t look necessary is what makes you different,” Oreno says.
Now as Oreno nears graduation, he’s most proud of his commitment to his passions. “I’ve stuck with being authentic, and I’m happy about it,” Oreno says. “My proudest moment is looking back and knowing that I invested myself into my efforts, and that I became more of who I am in the process.”
Oreno is on track to complete his double major with a high GPA—an accomplishment he never imagined achieving when he began at BYU. “I’ve worked really hard, but I’ve worked hard because I want to be a good person,” Oreno says. “I believe that one of the key purposes of my education is to become a more empathetic and well-rounded individual.” And throughout his life, Oreno intends on doing exactly that.
Written by Jake Holt