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BYU Lessons Bring Success at Harvard

December 2011

Scott Boyle hovered - for hours - at a chalkboard, deciphering complex problems. Jen Porter juggled finance, marketing, and teaching duties on a microcredit project. Matthew Lingenbrink was crunching numbers, while Patrick Turley was absorbed in research. At least this was the scene at BYU just a short time ago.

Where are these four BYU graduates today? All are attending Harvard, a storied institution known for attracting - and challenging - the best minds. Scott, Jen and Matthew attend Harvard Business School, while Patrick is part of the Harvard Economics PhD program.

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The students are thriving at Harvard, and each is quick to say that much of the success they’ve experienced had its beginnings at BYU. Scholarships provided by generous donors helped get and keep them there, and BYU experiences taught them lessons needed to succeed in postgraduate life.

“As a freshman, I signed up for a full load of difficult courses at BYU and soon found myself overwhelmed,” said Patrick. “My scholarship allowed me to cut back my number of hours at work so I didn’t have to make academic sacrifices. As a junior, paying for a large, unexpected car repair left me with empty cupboards and maxed-out credit cards. My scholarship once again proved to be a blessing.”

Jen and Matthew noted that receiving scholarships helped them graduate from BYU debt free. And Scott says his scholarship meant that his hard work was rewarded. “The full-tuition scholarship that I received to BYU - and kept all four years despite people saying it was practically impossible - reinforced my confidence that I could accomplish difficult challenges.”

While attending BYU, all four students honed the skills they would need during their studies at Harvard. Jen helped run a student-organized microcredit organization. She continues to explore today how business can create the most value for society and empower people to help themselves. In a sense, she hopes she can ultimately “help bring forth Zion,” a society of unity and productivity.

Scott entered BYU with a solid Idaho work ethic and found much expected. “Unlike other institutions that required only a general exposure to concepts, BYU expected us to be focused and excel,” he said. He dug in and explored quantum mechanics and advanced biochemistry. Eventually Scott hopes to take a creative role in revolutionizing health care, especially diagnostics. He is evaluating venture capital to help commercialize scientific advances.

Forget downtime - when Matthew took on accounting at BYU, he found himself facing relentless competition and grueling study sessions. Add his work as a reference assistant and research assistant, and finding time for sports and social activities became a challenge. He quickly grasped the importance of time management and finding the right balance in life. Eventually Matthew plans to return to management consulting. Ultimately he would like to start his own company and purchase and improve existing companies.

Even as a freshman, Patrick was involved in research with professors. That sparked his own investigations, and he was invited to present his research findings at both BYU and international conferences. “My advisor was wonderful,” said Patrick. “I sat at a desk next to his, and whenever I had a question, he was right there. He would often turn to me and share insights from talks he had read or scriptures he had studied. He really cared about me academically and personally.” Patrick hopes to model those same qualities as an economics professor someday.

Drawn initially to BYU for its academic and spiritual promise, all four students have carried its lessons to Harvard, where they are carving a better place for themselves and others. Notes Dr. H. Kent Bowen, the Bruce Rauner Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, “For decades I’ve watched BYU graduates come to Harvard for graduate programs and excel in their academic programs, but even more importantly, excel in the contributions they make to the community broadly. Their integrity and good works are recognized by faculty and fellow students.”

To learn how to make a difference through BYU’s scholarship fund, visit this link. One life can bless many.

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