Stephanie Nielson encourages students during BYU’s 5th annual ‘Be You’ campaign

Stephanie Nielson gives hope and encouragement to BYU students during the “Be You” campaign. (Justin Hackworth)

Stephanie Nielson, a motivational speaker and burn victim, encouraged students to embrace their true identities as the keynote speaker for the Women’s Services and Resources “Be You” campaign.

“The true source of happiness, self-worth and authentic beauty, does not come from the outside,” Nielson said.

Nielson has been sharing this message of hope and self-acceptance since she and her husband Christian were in a plane crash in 2008 that left 80 percent of her body burned. She was in a coma for three months and had to undergo extensive surgery as a result.

Nielson said she had a hard time knowing then what God’s plan was for her. Many things in her life would never be the same. She especially worried about her identity as a mother.

She knew she wanted to be a mother since she was nine years old. She dreamed of the day when she would have a husband and children. Her dream came true and she embraced that part of her identity. Nielson said so much of who she was revolved around taking care of her family.

Nielson said she felt betrayed after the accident. She was convinced her children wouldn’t love her anymore and that they would be scared of the way she looked. Eventually, she overcame that challenge through the guidance and encouragement of Heavenly Father.

She focused on the positive in her speech and encouraged students to do the same in their lives. She emphasized the importance of embracing one’s true identity — especially the divine characteristics of nurturing and kindness.

“Miracles do happen, and stories do have happy endings, and God is so good,” Nielson said.

This is the second time Nielson has spoken to BYU students for the Women’s Services and Resources. Five years ago, she spoke as part of the “Recapturing Beauty” campaign.

Now the same campaign has been renamed the “Be You” campaign. It is put on every year by the Women’s Services and Resources office (WSR). The goal of the campaign is to fulfill the vision of the WSR by empowering the women at BYU. The campaign will continue to run throughout this week until Feb. 3.

“’Be You’ is a 10-day challenge that focuses on self-confidence and self-worth,” said Madison Fullmer, the campaign specialist.

Students are encouraged to achieve a personal challenge for each of the 10 days. The WSR office will also be hosting several activities, including a free yoga class, to help the students complete their challenges. T-shirts will be given out to those who participate all 10 days. Full details about the campaign and how to participate can be found on the “Be You” website.

The vision of the Women’s Services and Resources office is to “ensure every woman recognizes her divine worth and has the opportunity to achieve her fullest potential emotionally, physically, academically, and spiritually,” according to its website.

The idea for the annual campaign has evolved over the past five years from a focus on beauty to a broader purpose. Amy Beck, the office manager for WSR, has been involved in making sure the events of the week promote the mission and vision of the office.

“This (campaign) is an overall celebration of who you are,” Beck said.

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