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Student Spotlight

Through the Wilderness

When Jacobo Ignacio Grimaldo Alvarez was five years old, his family moved from Monterrey, Mexico, to Mesa, Arizona. Though navigating the world as an immigrant can be a struggle, Grimaldo continues to press forward through life’s wilderness. Now a global supply chain management (GSCM) senior and a copresident in BYU Marriott School of Business’s Student Leadership Advisory Council (SLAC), Grimaldo helps others find belonging and community by leaning on the lessons he learned growing up.

Grimaldo stands on a beach, grinning widely at the camera in shorts and a puffy coat. He's giving the viewer two thumbs up.
Grimaldo is a first-generation college student studying GSCM and is co-president of BYU Marriott's SLAC.
Photo courtesy of Jacobo Ignacio Grimaldo Alvarez.

“We didn’t know how the immigration system worked,” he explains, which brought many unforeseen challenges. When Grimaldo was 11, his father was deported, leaving his mother to raise three children on her own. Amidst the fears that came from being an immigrant, Grimaldo was determined to work hard and make a difference. When he didn’t know what direction to take, he would remind himself, “You hit a roadblock, just turn aside. Keep walking, and then we’ll figure it out.”

Grimaldo stands in a blue suit and red tie along with four of his family members. They are standing in front of rose bushes and smiling toward the camera.
Grimaldo (center) grew up with his family in Mesa, Arizona.
Photo courtesy of Jacobo Ignacio Grimaldo Alvarez.

Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Grimaldo was able to work and pursue higher education. After graduating from high school and working for several years while taking college classes in Arizona, Grimaldo served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Provo, Utah. When his mission was completed, he decided to apply to BYU to continue his education. “I want to educate myself on a variety of topics so that I can find places where help is needed, where impact can be made, and then go and do that,” Grimaldo explains.

Grimaldo was drawn to BYU Marriott. “I really love the vision, mission, and values that BYU Marriott holds: faith in Christ, integrity, respect for all, and excellence,” he says. “They're all rooted in concepts that are tied to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ability to tie in gospel principles with my everyday life is something that really motivated me to be here.”

Grimaldo is sitting at a desk, turned slightly toward the camera. His button-up is rolled up to his elbows and he looks to be caught mid-laugh.
Grimaldo began working for the SLAC after applying at the end of his junior year.
Photo courtesy of Jacobo Ignacio Grimaldo Alvarez.

Though it was GSCM’s colorful merchandise that first caught his attention, Grimaldo was ultimately drawn to his current major for the same reasons he was drawn to BYU Marriott—his desire to help others. He says, “One of the ways that you can have really great impact at scale is through supply chains: making sure that they're ethical supply chains and they treat people fairly; that there’s fair compensation, but you’re also not doing harm to the environment. I realized there was a lot of potential to do good.”

Grimaldo saw another opportunity to better the world around him when applications for the SLAC opened up at the end of his junior year. “I come from a very different background than most people grow up in. I’m an immigrant from a single parent household and first-generation everything. I found a community at BYU Marriott that really supports me and wants me to do my best, and I want to open those doors for other people,” Grimaldo says. “What better way to do that than be in an organization that has some say in the direction the school goes in?”

Together with the other members of the SLAC, Grimaldo is working to build a concept they call “One Marriott,” which—as the name suggests—hopes to encourage unity within all the programs at BYU Marriott. Grimaldo explains, “We’re all striving for something and we all want to help each other. Ultimately, I think that's what we want to encourage with SLAC.”

Grimaldo and the other members of SLAC stand together with their arms around each other in formal wear at a BYU Marriott event. They're smiling, and in the background there is an old-fashioned van covered with string lights, foliage and the word "PHOTOS" in all caps.
Grimaldo and the other members of the SLAC committee are working to build an inclusive community at BYU Marriott.
Photo courtesy of Jacobo Ignacio Grimaldo Alvarez

His hopes for the SLAC don’t end there. “I want to encourage underrepresented and underserved communities,” Grimaldo explains. “I want people who never considered business, because they didn’t think they'd fit in, to see there are great things to get involved in regardless of your background.”

Having felt like an outsider growing up, Grimaldo is intentional about welcoming others and making them feel seen and needed. “I feel very fortunate, despite my life circumstances and many different setbacks and roadblocks that I’ve faced,” he says. “I love the description in 1 Nephi 16:16, ‘[God] led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.’ I really believe that despite the wilderness and the desert— everything I’ve been faced with—God has led me through more fertile parts.”

Grimaldo’s faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ inspires him to help others in their own journeys. “I want to share God’s love and be a support to other people. Sometimes that's just by saying ‘hi’ to people or offering résumé help,” he says. “I want to do whatever I can to help show that God’s love is real. And sometimes we are the conduit for that love.”

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Written by Melissa Een

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