BYU students travel for school conferences

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Students who travel through BYU-sponsored organizations to attend conferences and seminars are not only able to experience new cities, but they apply their classroom knowledge to real-world and student-friendly environments.

There are many opportunities for students to travel beyond the state limits as well as receive funding to attend such events.

Bree Gardner, a BYU senior  from Loveland, Colo., majoring in political science, traveled with the BYU Political Affairs Society to the “Beyond BYU” conference in Washington D.C. in May 2013.

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PRSSA Executive Board members at the National Conference Awards Ceremony in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo courtesy Alyssa Call)

“I had been encouraged to go (to the conference) by some professors, and I was intrigued by the signs detailing what would happen at the event,” Gardner said. “The department offered a lot of scholarships, so they actually paid for my trip. I saw this as a good networking opportunity. I also have been considering doing Washington Seminar and thought this would be a good trial run of sorts.”

Gardner also learned the importance of meeting new people and maintaining contact once everyone returned home.

“We were able to meet with a number of professionals that worked in D.C. and talked to us about how we could get involved there after graduation,” Gardner said. “I loved talking to a couple that worked for the State Department.”

Ee Chien Chua, the president of the BYU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, has attended two consecutive PRSSA National Conferences in San Francisco, Calif., and Philadelphia, Pa.

“These conferences allow you to meet others in your field who face the same problems,” said Chua, a BYU senior from Singapore majoring in public relations. “You get to brainstorm with them and share different ideas you have for your local chapter and learn from one another. It also allows you to understand differing points of view, sometimes agreeing to disagree.”

Chua loves traveling because of the exposure to different cultures and people that one experiences. He urges students to take advantage of such opportunities while they are in college.

“Whether you’re visiting a city or place for the first time, or you’ve visited many times, traveling gives you a broad exposure to different things in the world,” Chua said. “You gain exposure to different cultures, foods and history. What I love most about traveling for these conferences are the different people I get to meet. Whether they are from a different school or a company I’m interested in, you learn so much by meeting others. Once you’re out of college, you will have so many more responsibilities to tie you down. Be a college student; live on the edge a little. It will be worth every penny.”

Kyle Vanderniet, a BYU master’s student  from St. Joseph, Mich., studying linguistics, applied to attend the Second Language Research Forum in Pittsburgh, Pa., in October 2012.

Vanderniet traveled to Pittsburgh to learn how the forum was run in order to host it in Provo in October 2013. The forum provided attendants with 350 speakers and workshops to choose from over the course of three days and facilitated networking between people across the country.

In order to receive financial support for university-sponsored trips, Vanderniet suggests going to the college involved and applying for funding.

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