BYU student turns trials into opportunities for growth

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Portrait of David Fregoso. Fregoso is a junior at BYU studying entrepreneurial management. (Photo courtesy of David Fregoso)

If you told David Fregoso four years ago that he would be at BYU studying entrepreneurial management, he would not have believed you.

Fregoso, a 23-year-old junior from Molalla, Oregon, has experienced uncommon hardship in his early years of adulthood.

Growing up, Fregoso said a college education was never in his plans. He did not enjoy high school and did not expect college would be much different. However, according to his high school friend Kolton Dahl, Fregoso has always been a driven and committed individual. Participating in Future Farmers of America, the Oregon State Band competition and public speaking competitions in high school, David was incredibly goal-oriented. 

In 2018, Dahl introduced Fregoso to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was the one to baptize him just one year later on Aug. 17, 2019, after their senior year. Following his baptism, however, Fregoso’s life turned upside down.

Fregoso and Dahl on Fregoso’s baptism day. The day Fregoso got baptized was a day of mixed emotions. (Photo courtesy of David Fregoso)

Many of Fregoso’s family members and friends did not support his decision to become a Latter-day Saint and left his life. Instead of the gospel changing his life for the better, he said it first did just the opposite. The day he joined the Church, his family disowned him. He hasn’t been in contact with them since.

The reaction from Fregoso’s family and friends was hard for him to understand.

“I kind of expected it but didn’t expect it to reach that level. I just felt like it would be more disappointment rather than just anger and stress,” Fregoso said.

The end of high school and family support led Fregoso to begin working in retail and developing his sales tactics. For two years, Fregoso worked and hopped from house to house to get by, living out of his car when he had to. 

“It was basically finding every friend I knew in high school. Like, ‘Hey I need a place to stay for this short time period,’’’ Fregoso said. “I was very much like, ‘This was life. I gotta find a way to do this for the next 50 or 60 years.’”

After two years of this lifestyle, Fregoso decided something needed to change.

“I thought, ‘I should probably do something with my life,’” Fregoso said. Following the advice he received from many around him, he decided to get a college education.

Despite the difficulties, Fregoso is grateful for his experiences.

“I feel like that time period in my life helped me grow up and mature,” Fregoso said. 

As to why he would choose to remain a member of the Church despite the trials that came from his decision to be baptized, Fregoso said he is a firm believer in the idea that the only constant in life is change.

“I think the Lord really wanted me to focus on trusting Him and putting all my faith in Him. I feel like if I did not experience that, I don’t know if I would be at BYU or still be a member of the Church,” Fregoso said.

Fregoso likes to say that God brings difficulties into people’s lives to bring the best out of them. He felt that his trials have shaped him into the person he is.

David Fregoso standing with the missionaries that taught him and his friend Kolton Dahl. Kolton was the one who introduced David to the Church and baptized him. (Photo courtesy of David Fregoso)

Hoping BYU would be understanding of a two-year gap from school, Fregoso applied and was excited to join a community of students who shared the same faith as him. 

Only having joined the Church a few years ago, moving to Utah was like entering a foreign country for Fregoso. 

“It was kind of a shock,” Fregoso said. “People were nice to me for no reason.”

The transition proved to be difficult and after his freshman year at BYU, Fregoso wondered if he had made the right choice. He remembered thinking, “I need to drop out. I cannot do this, I cannot, I cannot.” Through the encouragement of the friends he made that year, he decided to give college a second chance.

After four semesters of experimenting with majors, Fregoso settled on entrepreneurship and finally began enjoying his academics. He loves his program and the people he has been able to meet through it.

One professor in particular, Corbin Church, inspired him to want to be an entrepreneur. Besides his religion courses, Fregoso said Church’s class was the first class he felt like he actually learned something he could use in life.

Fregoso has already left a legacy of impact among his friends. Jason Celaya, a junior from Napa, California studying civil engineering, met Fregoso when they lived on the same floor in Helaman Halls during their freshman year. 

“He’s such a good, kind friend, but he’s also hilarious and he likes to joke around,” Celaya said. “He’s also always doing something to self-improve or to benefit others.” 

Dahl, who has remained supportive of Fregoso over the years and also goes to BYU, described his friend as resilient. 

“He is the epitome of the adage ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going,’” Dahl said.

Fregoso standing in front of a seminary building. Fregoso feels blessed to have the calling of teaching seminary. (Photo courtesy of David Fregoso)

Fregoso met Hank Smith, a motivational speaker and professor of religion at BYU, in the Religion Department of Ancient Scripture at BYU where he began working his freshman year. Fregoso named Smith as an exceptional mentor who has helped him with gospel questions and callings as a seminary and institute teacher.

“I love David,” Smith said. “He is a gentle soul with an insatiable appetite for learning the gospel. We’ve been friends for many years now and his commitment to the Lord and the Church despite the intense suffering he has faced has been inspiring to me.” 

Fregoso’s goals for the future include starting his own clothing brand and visiting and possibly living in New York City. His interest in fashion stems from learning about the fashion industry while working at Ralph Lauren over the past two summers. 

Fregoso explained there are many different styles and ways to express yourself through fashion.

“It’s like art,” Fregoso said.

His interest in fashion led him to start his fashion blog. The Clothing King is an outlet for him to compile his knowledge and research about fashion, as well as connect to his Mexican heritage.

Fregoso said he is grateful for for the opportunities offered to him at BYU and is hopeful for the future. He keeps his aspirations high and without limits.

“I’d like to make an impact in the world,” Fregoso said. “That’s my goal — to leave something, and everyone can remember David Fregoso left that.”

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