College of Fine Arts and Communications
BYU graphic design senior Ainsley Rose Romero won CommandX, a national graphic design competition consisting of students and graduates of top-rated design schools and companies. Romero was chosen to compete out of hundreds of candidates. CommandX gave contestants a week to create and present four creative briefs. Given 24 hours, finalists created a dating app that they presented to a live audience and panel of judges. Romero’s presentations blew away her judges and peers, garnering her the win. She won an all-expense-paid trip to the conference, a cash prize and national recognition for her work.
Art student Elisabeth Baird wants to help people experience healing through art. While working as a wilderness guide last fall, Baird designed and implemented a curriculum where she met with groups and individuals along the trail and created art with them. This type of art, called socially engaged art, focuses more on the creation process and the emotional output than the physical art created. Baird encouraged those she worked with to create art from the natural materials around them as a method of processing their experiences. Multiple individuals said that making art gave them a way beyond talking to process their experiences. Baird said she plans to continue engaging others in the artistic process to see “how far art can go to help people connect.” She wants to use art throughout her life to build her community and help people heal.
College of Life Sciences
Recent graduate Moremi Hamblin was inspired by her mother to get pursue her college degree. After growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, and watching her mother encourage other women to seek out education through her work as a teacher, Hamblin moved to the United States to receive her bachelor’s degree at BYU. She studied public health with an emphasis on epidemiology. While pursuing her major, Hamblin also was enrolled in the Honors Program and worked with Dr. Keoni Kauw at his research lab studying Alzheimer’s disease genetics. Hamblin went on to receive the 2019 College of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Award for her hard work and dedication. “BYU’s ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve’ motto is one of my driving forces,” Hamblin said. “I want to be able to go back to Nigeria and share what I know with global epidemiology.” Click here to watch more.
David O. McKay School of Education
Bruna Goncalves recently graduated BYU with a bachelor’s degree in special education, leaving behind research gathered by a team here at BYU that taught conversation skills to children with autism or other intellectual disabilities. The participants practiced these skills with an animated fish named Marla. Children with autism and other intellectual disabilities tend to enjoy animated characters, which made it easier to learn from and talk with the avatar. Marla could move her head and mouth and was equipped with a camera and microphone so that researchers could respond to and teach the participants in real time. Participants not only showed growth in conversations with Marla but when children their own age were brought in to hold a conversation with the participants, they found significant improvement in that area as well. Click here to watch more.
Marriott School of Business
Two BYU MPA students were recognized by the The Doyle W. Buckwalter Award. Aaron Shirley won the award and Shantel Sanders was named a finalist. The Buckwalter Award chooses students who have demonstrated the lasting value they added to their internships and who have furthered their understanding by sharing their experience with others. Shirley held two internships at the Utah Office of the State Auditor and Sandy City Hall. “The most important thing I learned from my internship was the ability to get key stakeholders in projects to buy into my vision,” Shirley said. “Until you come to understand the way your colleagues are thinking and respect that, you won’t get anything done.” Sanders worked on data mining, DNA testing and busted Visa scams at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. The two received the awards and cash prize at the annual Alumnus of the Year luncheon.
Current BYU student Jason Koncurat and graduates Hayden Roney and Josh Steel have created a way to make renting and owning a tuk-tuk, a vehicle with purposes similar to a taxi, easier for drivers in Madagascar. All three members of the group served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Madagascar. There they learned that most of the tuk tuk drivers live in poverty because the earnings they receive for the day are mostly eaten up by rental costs, and very few drivers are able to own their cars. Thus, Speedy Tuk-Tuk, a rental service that allows drivers to own their tuk-tuks after two years of renting, was created. The group was able to create their company largely in part by the BYU Marriott Ballard Center’s Social Venture Academy after receiving a $20,000 grant. “Speedy Tuk-Tuk has two main goals: helping drivers own their tuk-tuks, and helping them out of poverty,” said Koncurat. “We want the Malagasy people to shift toward something that’s going to benefit them and their community.”
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