BYU roommates reunite on campus after 25 years

Reunited! Gold, Obray, Andersen, Priedeman, McAlister, Johnson, McCormick, Bohne, Baker, Layton
Gold, Obray, Andersen, Priedeman, McAlister, Johnson, McCormick, Bohne, Baker and Layton reminisce at their 2015 reunion. (Christine Layton)

They fought over Jell-o, oven space and toilet paper, but 25 years later a group of 12 women that met as BYU freshmen are still friends.

Ann Andersen, Amy Bullock Gold, Amy McCormick, Christine Fewkes Layton, Jennifer Christensen Johnson, Kenni Allen McAlister, Lisa Cavanaugh Bohne, Sandra Priedeman, Sarah Jane Rice Obray and Tami Baker are 10 of the original 12 that met on campus last month to celebrate a roommate reunion.

The group met 25 years ago at Helaman Halls during their freshman year in 1990 and quickly became friends. They continued to live together throughout their college years until they graduated, got married or served missions.

Layton, the “mom” of the group, said she is surprised the group is still together.

“It’s amazing to us that we forged such a close friendship while in the dorms that has lasted more than half our lives,” Layton said.

All of them attributed their ability to stay connected to Johnson, the “glue of the group.” If anyone wanted to know what was going on they would go to Johnson. The group agreed that Johnson kept people informed and updated just like a Facebook feed. They called her “Jenbook” as a nickname.

“She was like Internet before Internet,” Andersen said.

Back Row: McCormick, Bohne Middle Row: Hendricks, Johnson, Priedeman, McAlister Front Row: Gold Obray, Layton Standing in front of their Helaman Halls Apartment Building
Back row: McCormick, Bohne, Middle Row: Hendricks, Johnson, Priedeman, McAlister, Front row: Gold Obray, Layton standing in front of Helaman Halls. (Christine Layton)

Johnson is also credited with keeping the group together and making the reunions possible. Ten years ago the group met for their first “Bigger, Better, Softer” reunion at a friend’s condo in Park City. They came to campus for a tour and gave their guide a relaxing ride as they told him all the bits and pieces of their campus days. They were able to reunite again another 10 years later, for their “I Don’t Remember That” reunion.

Although they said they are losing their sharp memories, they said they remember becoming the steady support for each other in all stages of life.

They said there isn’t a textbook formula that can generate their kind of loyalty. It evolves over time and their friendship formed from a matter of maturity.

“We grew up together, we became adults together,” Priedeman said. “We turned 18 and we didn’t know how to budget or grocery shop or cook or clean, so we had to figure it out with one another.”

Priedeman said having the mindset of “I’m here to study sometimes, but I’m here to play and I’m here to be a friend” helped them achieve overall success.

The friends participated in activities even though they made studying a priority. A favorite pastime was BYU intramural sports. They formed “The Breakfast Club” team and played several sports together including basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, flag football and more.

Amber and Amy Gold (Maddi Driggs)
Amber and Amy Gold talk about Amy’s BYU experiences. 
(Maddi Driggs)

All 12 friends earned their bachelor’s degrees from BYU and several others have gone on to achieve master’s degrees. Baker said it is time for reminiscing and reflecting now that studies are past.

Even though they claim to have forgotten a lot, they shared many memories and laughs.

One particular memory involved moldable foam mannequins and PDA.

“We dressed up some old foam mannequins the (BYU) Bookstore had thrown out and set them out on the stairs embraced in a very public display of affection moment,” Baker said. “We’d watch the most hilarious looks from people passing by!”

Another classic experience they shared together was hiking Y Mountain. The friends didn’t know there was already a trail in place to make the rigorous climb less strenuous, so they went for the vertical climb.

“Oh we were eating dirt!” Layton said.

Catching their breath upon reaching the Y, they noticed all the other hikers and thought they had triumphed like everyone else. But when the others left, the group noticed the trail and their silliness.

Now that they are grown and have families of their own, the friends shared hopes that their children can make similar memories.

“We want all of our kids to go to BYU. We’re indoctrinating our children. Every family home evening (is) ‘Rise and shout, the Cougars are out,'” Bohne said.

This year at least one of the friends succeeded in passing the torch. Amy Gold’s daughter, Amber, is now a freshman at BYU who hopes to form the same friendships and maybe even have a similar reunion 25 years from now.


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