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Power to Become Conference inspires

Story by Haley Romney and Kelsi McCabe.

Friday, Feb. 5, the Alumni Association hosted the third Power to Become Conference, where students, faculty and the community were taught to discover their passion, network effectively and tell their story by both BYU and BYU-Idaho alumni.

The night started with a Twitter bomb, where the audience tweeted “Ready to become _______” and included the hashtag, #p2become, in an attempt to get the conference trending on Twitter.

“Ready to become the most successful daughter of God I can be. #p2become,” tweeted @cassidyechols.

Before the first speaker addressed the audience, Spencer Taggart, the emcee for the night, announced the game, Best-Tweet-Best-Seat. A Twitter panel chose the best tweets from the evening, and the winner got to sit on a massage chair, complete with a butler and snacks.

“If TED talks and General Conference had a baby. . . #p2become,” tweeted @connorkunz17, winning the first Best-Tweet-Best-Seat of the night.

Kyle Nel, the first speaker and alumnus of BYU-I, recently returned from the International Space Station, where he was sent as part of his job for Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

“We live in an exponential curve in an exponential world,” Nel said. “A guy from BYU-Idaho can build something for space.”

He spoke on writing the story of life and creating the future based on decisions made now.

“If you cease to write your own story, you become a supporting character in someone else’s,” he said.

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Katie Spencer, a freshman studying business management, attended P2B for the first time.

“You can do anything you want, just write your own story,” she said after hearing Nel’s speech.

After Nel’s speech, Taggart announced Megan Huff, a senior studying child development, as the next winner for Best-Tweet-Best-Seat.

“I wish the change in my pocket was exponential. #workingonit #p2become,” Huff tweeted.

Huff said the seat was the best seat ever. She said the chair massaged her calfs, arms and back.

“It was the best massage ever,” Huff said. “And literally the best seat in the house because I could see everything that was happening on stage.”

Huff said the seat she was in before winning Best-Tweet-Best-Seat was not ideal because she could not see the stage very well.

“Getting to go sit in that seat, I was able to see everything and really just kind of soak in the experience,” Huff said.

Huff said the inspiration for her tweet came from Nel’s speech, and she wanted to be funny and have people laugh.

Mala Grewal and Caroline Welty co-presented the next speech. Their occupation at their company, The Talent Catalyst, is to help clients find their passions.

“When you are passionate about what you do, you can create amazing things,” Grewal said.

Welty told the story of finding her passion, through multiple internships, international expeditions and working for companies like J.P. Morgan and CitiBank. She graduated from BYU-I 10 years ago and attributes it as the beginning of the journey to finding her passion.

Megan Hill, a sophomore studying public health, attended the conference with her husband.

“Each speaker been talking about really different things that can be implemented to your life,” Hill said.

Attendees were excused for dinner in the BYU-Idaho Center where they were entertained by the BYU-I drumline, RixStix.

Huff said unlike others who won the contest, her transition back to a normal seat was different.

“After I was sitting in the big chair, we kind of broke off and went to get our dinner, so we went to the courts in the BYU-I Center, grabbed our sandwiches, sat down, met new people and talked with friends,” Huff said. “When we went back, the girl I was sitting with, (…) she and I grabbed our stuff and we actually moved seats so we could see the stage better.”

Attendees returned to the John W. Hart Building Auditorium, and Taggart announced Emmilie Whitlock, a faculty member in the communication department, as the next winner of Best-Tweet-Best-Seat.

“I hope whoever had to make 3 million sandwiches for #p2become is living their passion,” Whitlock tweeted.

Whitlock said the chair was comfortable.

“It was like the celestial kingdom of chairs,” Whitlock said.

Whitlock said the provided butler took her picture and gave her candy, but she did not ask him to do anything else.

“I would have felt bad asking him to do anything,” Whitlock said. “Like, ‘Can you leave this awesome conference and go get me something? Thanks.’”

Whitlock said the inspiration for her tweet came from Grewal and Welty’s speech.

“I was just washing my hands in the bathroom, and I was like, ‘That’s hilarious. We just had this really inspiring talk about finding your passion, and somebody had to make all those sandwiches, and I wouldn’t want to do it, so I hope whoever did is passionate,’” Whitlock said.

Whitlock said it was embarrassing to walk to and from the chair because she does not like being the center of attention.

“Everyone was looking, and I was like, ‘Keep your head down, it’s fine, nobody knows who you are and let’s keep it that way,’” Whitlock said.

Whitlock said several former students shouted her name as she walked to the chair, and she thought it was cool because of what she teaches.

“I teach about a social media presence, especially with blogging, and so it’s cool to be able to be like, ‘Yeah, this is why it’s good to have a social media presence because you get to sit in awesome chairs,’” Whitlock said.

After Whitlock was announced as the winner, attendees were shown ESPN’s E:60 documentary, “Made in Dietrich,” which follows the story of Acey Shaw.

Shaw is the girl’s basketball coach for Dietrich High School and led them to five state championship games, winning four of them.

In 2011, he contracted Q fever, a rare virus that severely impaired his motor skills. After four months in the hospital, he was released. He still coaches the girl’s basketball team, but now does it from his wheelchair.

“Everything you do in life, everyone has light inside,” Shaw said. “The world wants it to go out. Keep your light shining.”

Shaw received three rounds of applause from the audience, and a shout out from emcee Taggart.

“I’m weeping like a child,” Taggart said. “But we must play heads or tails.”

The game involved students choosing heads or tails on a coin flip until there was one winner. The winner received a GoPro Hero silver edition.

Stephanie Barclay, a BYU-I alumna of 2008, is now working for The Becket Fund, a group devoted to religious freedoms for all people. She addressed the audience on her journey to being a lawyer and why she loves her job.

“I don’t represent the Lord as a client, but I know he does care a great deal for my clients,” Barclay said.

She taught that it is important to find activities that create a spark and to work hard to fan it into a flame of passion that will lead to a career.

“Don’t let other voices drown out the voices that matter most and have the courage to say yes,” she said.

Cody Jenson, a sophomore studying applied mathematics, said he was looking for motivation out of the conference.

“It’s always nice to hear from people in the work world because you hear a lot of college (perspective),” Jenson said. “Just like high school doesn’t prepare you for college, I’ve heard that college doesn’t really prepare you for life. It’s just about following through and knowing what you want beyond college so that it’s actually a tool to get you where you want to be.”

Jeff Taylor was the next speaker. Taylor is currently the executive creative director for Bonneville Communications.

Taylor talked about not being afraid of being hit in the head by life over and over again. He compared himself to a leaf cutter bee because they get hit by the alfalfa flower repeatedly during pollination, but they continue forward.

“Leaf cutter bees can be smacked in the head over and over and can still do what it needs to,” Taylor said.

Taylor shared from his personal life different experiences where life smacked him on the head. One example was when he went to one of the major advertising agencies in the world with his college portfolio looking for a job. The woman he met with said his portfolio was good enough to work at a lower advertising agency based out of Utah, but not hers.

“I threw out everything in my portfolio and started over,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he worked really hard on his portfolio and eventually got the job at that major advertising agency, but soon left that job because the spirit told him to. He ended up working for another advertising agency, where he created an ad for Verizon that involved Donald Trump.

After working for that advertising agency for several years, he left and joined Bonneville Communications. While there, he helped come up with the 2014 and 2015 Christmas and Easter promotional videos for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He also came up with an idea for a Christmas video that no one was willing to do for a long time until it was almost too late.

“Instead of quitting, I kept telling people my ideas,” Taylor said.

His idea came to fruition, however, in the form of the Guinness World Record-setting live nativity video featuring The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens and David Archuleta singing “Angels From the Realms of Glory.” The nativity featured over 1,000 people.

Taylor quoted a portion of Doctrine and Covenants Section 122 and said everything that happens in life is for good.

“Life is not easy,” Taylor said. “You are going to have days when you want to stay in bed and eat Fig Newtons all day.”

Taylor also concluded his speech by advising attendees to not be afraid of life smacking them in the head.

“It might be the best thing that ever happened to you,” Taylor said.

After Taylor’s speech, President Clark G. Gilbert took the stage for his presentation, and welcomed his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert, onto the stage in celebration of their 22nd wedding anniversary.

President Gilbert said finding a passion is not always easy, and gave examples from his personal and professional life.

“Sometimes, to find your passion, you have to do things you aren’t passionate about,” President Gilbert said.

President Gilbert then talked about his experiences with networking, and said networking can be a benefit in both the professional world and in personal lives.

“If you build the right network, those people will be the ones you trust the most at the flection point of your life,” President Gilbert said.

President Gilbert finished his presentation by talking about how to tell personal stories effectively. He shared advice that his father had given him when he was in college.

“What can you put on your resume to better improve your story?” President Gilbert said. “That is what you have to do over and over.”

President Gilbert said not to leave the Lord out of telling personal stories.

“Writing the stories down when the Lord revectors your life is the most important thing you can do,” President Gilbert said.

After President Gilbert left, Taggart introduced Jason Hewlett, who provided the entertainment for P2B.

Hewlett has performed for over a million people, including Fortune 500 companies, according to his website.

“Jason’s One-Man Show of Music, Comedy, Parody & Impressions has received Best of State honors in the Arts & Entertainment category numerous times in his home state of Utah, and is received by standing ovations worldwide,” according to the biography Web page on his website. “Uniquely enough, this same show is performed on stages for families, corporations, and appeared in every major Casino in Las Vegas, while remaining a G-Rated, family-friendly, corporate ready experience.”

Hewlett started the show by impersonating Taggart, who he has been friends with since childhood. He also did impersonations of Nat King and Natalie Cole, Journey, Lady Gaga and more.

He also shared the background of how he discovered his talent of impersonations and facial movements.

Throughout the show, Hewlett incorporated a spiritual message.

“Jesus is our mentor,” Hewlett said. “He is the one we must seek.”

He shared how for several years while growing up, he wanted to hide his talents. He encouraged the attendees to not hide what they have been blessed with, and to share those talents with anyone they encounter.

“God orchestrates our lives as long as we live in accordance to his will,” Hewlett said. “Rediscover your talents from before.”

The next Power to Become Conference will not be held until October, according to the BYU-I Master Calendar.


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