2012 Valedictorians

WOODBURY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

LISA MERRILL

BS Valedictorian

 

What is your major?

Finance

 

What led you to choose this major? 

I originally majored in Economics, but after being a bookkeeper at a law firm for a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to specialize in finance because I loved the corporate financial planning process so much.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I just got a job as a financial analyst and plan to continue learning and building my career from there. About five years into the future, when my husband is finished with school, I plan on returning to school to get a Master’s of Finance.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

You can achieve anything, so long as you are willing to work hard for it.  There will always be stumbling blocks, but you can always overcome them if you simply choose to do so.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Get to know your professors. UVU has some amazing professors, and they are such a wonderful resource to those who want a successful career.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I wish I had been less shy in the beginning. When I finally opened up to my classmates, I discovered some absolutely wonderful people I really wish I had gotten sooner.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I want to be done with my Master’s, have spent a year in Europe, and be well on my way to being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

 

 

WOODBURY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

SKYLAR BENNETT

 AS Valedictorian

 

What is your major?

My major is Accounting.

 

What led you to choose this major? 

I’ve always loved numbers for some reason. I know that sounds weird, but it seems like I’m constantly doing math in my head throughout the day, and I enjoy it. Because of that, accounting seemed like the perfect fit. It’s also a pretty safe career path too because every business needs an accountant.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

My wife and I are moving to Arizona at the end of the summer, where she will be applying for PA school, and I’ll be attending ASU for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

The most important thing I’ve learned at UVU is to be proactive to accomplish your goals. I think a lot of people just kind of float through school doing the minimum to get by, but when you really apply yourself to the work, you can accomplish great things.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

For new students, I would say take advantage of the small classroom sizes. There’s not a lot of universities where you can actually talk to your professor when you have questions and even set up one-on-one appointments if you need to.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I wish I would have been more involved with extracurricular activities. There are so many clubs and organizations that provide opportunities to be involved and learn outside of the classroom.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

In 10 years, I hope to own my own business that has something to do with the auto industry. I know my major is accounting, but that’s mostly just so I can learn many of the skills necessary to run my own business. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, so that’s the plan, but I know it will make my wife feel much safer with me having a degree in Accounting if my business doesn’t work out right away.

 

 

COLLEGE OF SCIENCE HEALTH

SHAWN ABREU

BS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Biology

 

What led you to choose this major? 

It is most relevant to what I want to study in professional school.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

Immediately, work in a health related field, possibly as an EMT or medical assistant. If I’m not admitted to medical school this fall, I’ll be applying for 2013.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

An honest appreciation and respect for science.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Don’t procrastinate. That won’t happen, but if you try not to you’ll procrastinate less, hopefully. Also, take responsibility for your education. You will take out as much as you put in.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU? 

I wish I had gotten in touch with the pre-health counselor right away and started working on the extracurricular needed for professional school from year one.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

A practicing MD. A good father.

 

 

SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

WENDY GOURLEY

BS Valedictorian

 

What is your major?

Theater Arts with an emphasis in playwriting

 

What led you to choose this major? 

It was difficult to decide. I didn’t want it to be impractical, but I have done theater most of my life, and it’s what I love to do.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I want to spend the next few years starting a freelance writing career doing not only plays, but short stories and books as well. After I graduate, I am going to start by working with a professor writing a book for him, and I’ll also be writing training materials for a business. I started a playwright as well, so I will keep working on that. It’s about a man from Ghana I met at UVU. He has an amazing story, and I am excited to keep working on it.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

I have taken away so many things, mountains of practical knowledge, stage managing and other pieces of knowledge about parts of production. When it comes to theater, I learned not just the how, but the why. Why to do theater. I learned this along with the “how’s” of theater because of such great teachers.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Be bold. There is a world of opportunities. and faculty wants to offer a lot, so you need to reach out and grab it.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

In the beginning I wished I had searched out career advice while mapping out decisions, especially for grad school and decisions like that.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I hope to be an established playwright, be publish and traveling around the world presenting, performing and partnering with incredible and talented people. It may sound vague, but if I limit myself by planning too much then it won’t be as great.

 

 

COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES

HEATHER ROBERTS

BS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Deaf Studies

 

What led you to choose this major? 

I love the deaf community. I love being in it. I was exposed to the deaf community and sign language at the age of 12 and knew that it was a community I wanted to be a part of and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I work at UVU currently as an American Sign Language interpreter/help and I will continue to do so after graduation. I am going to have more time with my family as well. I will also be starting a new teaching job at Lincoln Academy in Pleasant Grove, UT.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

The importance of listening to minority groups and letting them tell their own story. We need to let them tell it.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Utilize the amazing faculty. Students too often try to do as little as possible and I would tell them to take advantage of the amazing experiences offered here at UVU.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I have had a great experience. I have really tried hard to take advantage of the things offered to me. I took my time getting through school and I have no regrets.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I plan to graduate from Law School and start a mediation practice with my husband. My husband has been a stay-at-home dad while I have been getting my undergrad degree. I could not be here without my husband and son. They have been a great support.

 

 

COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES

DANIEL LITCHFORD

AS Valedictorian

What is your major?

History Education

 

What led you to choose this major? 

My parents both teach. My dad actually teaches at UVU and I always knew I wanted to teach. History is my favorite class so I chose that as my teaching emphasis. I also would like to get a Social Studies composite.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan is to continue coming to school. I just finished my associates and I will be coming back and finishing my Bachelor of Arts. After that degree, I plan to teach in Utah. I am also getting married this summer.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

All knowledge is valuable. Every class I have taken I have tried to take something out of it.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Do not procrastinate. It always helps to stay up in classes. Lastly, remember to have fun!

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I wish I had gotten more involved with activities on campus. It makes for a fun college experience when you do.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

In ten years I will either own or be buying a house. I will be teaching and have a few kids by that point. I’ll be living the Utah dream.

SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

ARCHER BIRRELL

BS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Elementary Education

 

What led you to choose this major? 

I chose to be a teacher because I have wanted to teach elementary school since I was in four grade, and also because my parents have influenced my education. My mother and father both received their bachelors’ degrees in Elementary Education. My father went on to obtain his doctorate in Education. I had many opportunities to travel around parts of the country to watch my father observe student teachers as part of their student teaching experiences. My parents have been a positive influence for many children an adults as educators. I want to follow in their footsteps and become a positive influence as well.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to obtain my Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and complete my career as a professor of Educational Psychology within the next 10 years. I also would like to obtain a therapy license and set up a private practice for marriage and couples therapy.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

I’ve learned we all have to work together and that being a team player makes a person most successful. I was able to be successful at UVU through the assistance of my cohort and professors. I have gained a lot of knowledge and growth by contributing to others education. I am grateful for my major because it was founded on working as a team and included a lot of team building activities and lessons.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Be in constant communication with your professors. Students often believe that their professors are out of reach for help. I have found that professors are very willing to help students. I suggest completing assignments early and bringing them to your professors for feedback. Professors will let you know how to improve your score by making positive changes to your assignment.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I wish I would have lived near campus and been more involved with extracurricular activities and clubs.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

In 10 years, I plan to be teaching Educational Psychology courses.

 

 

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

EMILY HANSEN

BS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Pre Professional

 

What led you to choose this major? 

I wanted to go into nursing since I was in junior-high school. My mom is an RN, and I’ve gotten to hear her stories firsthand. I was inspired by her to go into that field.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m hoping to get into the nursing program in the fall. After that, I’m hoping to get in PA (Physician’s Assistant) school for my Master’s.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

Probably just the knowledge I’ve gained from my medical classes and being diligent in all aspects of life, whether it be school, work or volunteering.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Stay on top of your studies and try and decide what are you want to go into. I think that getting your generals done early is useful, as well as taking the advantages of the resources on campus (math lab, writing lab, library) if necessary.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

I wish that I would have met with my major advisor before I started any of my classes. I think meeting with your major advisor as soon as you declare your major would be super helpful. I wish I would have done that.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I hope to have graduated in nursing and be employed in that field. I also hope to be done with PA school and establishing my family.

 

 

COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY & COMPUTING

PETER GEILMAN

BS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Technology Management with an emphasis in Drafting Technology and Construction Management

 

What led you to choose this major? 

Since I was a little kid, I wanted to work in construction. I started at UVSC in 2005, and I planned on receiving an associate degree in Cabinetry and Architectural Millwork. After a semester, I switched to drafting and considered going into architecture. After completing an associate degree in Drafting Technology, I decided I wanted to be a part of the building of structures, and not just the design. The Construction Management degree had not yet been introduced, and Technology Management with an emphasis in Building Construction and Construction Management was the best route to receive a bachelor’s degree. Even after the option was presented to change over to the new Construction Management degree.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

My dream would be to work for a homebuilder. Currently, I have been applying for any construction company that has an open position requiring a degree while I continue to use my associate in drafting work for a cabinet shop as a project engineer.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

Far beyond the academic education that I was able to gain, was the ability to learn to work and prioritize. The flexibility of UVU course schedules allowed me to work full time while attending school full time, taking day, evening and online classes.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Not to be afraid to learn from experience, even if it takes longer. With the years it took me to complete my degrees, I could have received a master’s degree in something entirely different, but I needed to learn for myself the specifics of things I was interested in before I knew what path I wanted to follow.  There are some who can somehow decide in their youth what they want to do, and they take every step perfectly to get there. But for me I needed to try different things and do my best at them to learn what fit best. Always doing your best is also important, regardless of the expectations of others. Whether it’s a class that everyone says is easy, or one that everyone hates for being hard, if you always hold yourself to the same standard, you can gain from any class and not have regrets.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

It would have been nice if I had been able to start my education earlier, since I hadn’t done any college until I was 21. It would have been nice to not have had to work full time during my education, but other priorities made it a necessity. I wish I would have used more of the resources that were available to me; I didn’t even know of some of them that are available on campus for selecting a degree or for finding employment. Although it was difficult to find the time to get to campus to use some of these resources, I wish I would have used them more to find internships and other opportunities to find better employment upon graduation.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I would want to find myself operating my own home renovation business, especially historical renovations, and being involved in volunteering to improve my community. I have been able to volunteer in the homeowners’ association of my current condo, getting things cleaned up, repaired and improved to make a dramatic difference in the quality of life in the complex. I think that understanding construction trades and management is a great way to improve the quality of life of others by being able to offer services as well as training. Especially living in an older area of Provo, surrounded my homes that are directly connected to the history and heritage of the area, I want to be some part of helping people to preserving that history while improving their homes.

 

 

COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY & COMPUTING

BRIAN MECHAM

AS Valedictorian

What is your major?

Associate in Applied Science Building Inspection Technology

 

What led you to choose this major? 

This degree was something I thought I could work into my full-time job, my full time family of four children and a sweet wife and, equally important, my love for softball.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

This being my associate degree, I am continuing my education at UVU in pursuit of a bachelor degree in Technology Management.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

I think the most important thing I have taken from my experience at UVU is a greater understanding of myself and what I am capable of doing. I never thought I would be able to balance all that life had to offer me during my time here and have been able to develop my time management skills and ability to function under pressure.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and enjoy what comes in between. Don’t worry about any situation until you come face to face with it. False worry or false fears will always be worse than what actually takes place.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU? 

I wish that I would have been able to balance my family life better. I was not able to keep them at the top of my priority list. The demands of school took me away from my family more than I would have liked.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

I would love to be on a softball field with my boys, enjoying the accomplishments of my family and myself. My experiences at UVU will greatly increase my understanding of what my kids will be facing 10 years from now, and for that I am grateful.

 

 

 

COLLEGE OF SCIENCE HEALTH

MAGGIE LEWIS

AS Valedictorian

What is your major?

I am a Math Major.

 

What led you to choose this major? 

When I first came to UVU, I was a theater major. That changed when I took my first math class, MATH 1050, during my second semester. I loved it and wanted to do nothing but math. I got through as many math classes as I could, as fast as I could. Now, a year after taking my first math class, I’m graduating with my math associates.

 

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan on continuing my education, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in either Mathematics or Physics, or both.

 

What was the most important thing you’ve taken away from your education at UVU?

The associations I’ve had with so many wonderful professors.

 

What advice would you give to new UVU students? 

Don’t forget to make connections and relationships with your fellow students, advisers and professors.

 

What do you wish you had done differently during your time at UVU?

Taken that major-changing math class sooner.

 

Where do you hope to be in ten years? 

Having international adventures with my husband! We want to live abroad, teaching English and Math.

 

 

 

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