Information systems student Mason Perry was unsure if he should interrupt his graduate studies to complete a study abroad in the Middle East. But he found that following inspiration to defer his plans led to unexpected opportunities.
After returning home from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Mongolia, Perry cycled through several different majors before deciding to study information systems (IS)—even though he had never pictured himself pursuing a tech career. “I told myself since ninth grade when I took an intro to programming class that I would never do programming for my career,” Perry says. “But then I took IS 201 and loved it. From then on, I decided to study information systems.”
His undergraduate coursework in information systems at the BYU Marriott School of Business increased his desire to pursue graduate studies in the same field. “I wanted to earn a MISM degree because I realized that there was so much more I wanted to learn after the IS junior core,” Perry says.
He also decided to earn a minor in Arabic studies. After taking all the introductory courses and prerequisites, he felt that he needed to go on a study abroad to Jordan, but that meant deferring the master’s program for a year. “Interrupting studies is pretty rare for the MISM program, and so them letting me do that was pretty cool,” Perry says.
The trip to Jordan helped Perry discover what he wanted for his career path. Because his dad was a member of the United States Foreign Service, Perry had grown up living in places such as Egypt, Peru, and Mexico. He liked the idea of living abroad like he did as a child, but he did not know what opportunities were out there for his chosen career path.
“Before I went to Jordan. I had no idea what my plan was,” Perry admits. “I knew I wanted to do the MISM program, and that was about it.”
Perry continues, “During my time in Jordan I realized that pursuing a career in the Foreign Service was my route.” So, he started his search for opportunities that would allow him to use his skills in information systems and fluency in four languages to follow his passion to work abroad. When he was researching options, he came across the Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship—an opportunity that would allow him to pursue his dream.
Fortunately for Perry, his semester abroad made the timing possible for the FAIT Fellowship application. “Going on the study abroad lined me up perfectly for the timeline of this fellowship,” says Perry.
“I applied knowing there were probably hundreds or thousands of applicants and that only 15 got accepted,” Perry says. “I didn’t expect anything, but when I was accepted, I felt a huge wave of relief because this is exactly what I want to do.”
As a FAIT Fellow, Perry will be part of a two-year program funded by the US Department of State. He will receive academic funding and training for a career in the Foreign Service as an information technology specialist. As part of the program, Perry will participate in two summer internships, one abroad and one in Washington, DC. Upon successful completion of the fellowship program and the Foreign Service entry requirements, Perry will commit to work for a minimum of five years in the Foreign Service as an information management specialist.
“I want to work for the Foreign Service because I really do believe that we are blessed to be in the United States of America to enjoy the freedoms and blessings that are here,” Perry reflects. “I want to represent the freedoms of the US to the people of the world, and I want to serve the people in any way that I can.”
Perry credits BYU Marriott for helping him learn valuable lessons. “BYU Marriott has always emphasized integrity and emphasized being a good person,” Perry says. “And I really like to think that that shone through in my application, and that they were able to see that I was a genuine person and that I cared.”
Perry is excited to realize his dream of working in the Middle East. “Now my next seven years are planned out and probably further because I’m going to be working for the Foreign Service, at least for a while,” Perry says.
“This whole process of being accepted to the fellowship has been very much the Lord’s path for me,” reflects Perry. “And being able to say that God has helped with that is pretty cool.”
Written by Kacee Call