Iconic BYU Creamery ice cream and mint brownies welcomed attendees prior to the first ever off-campus BYU Summit held in January at the Mesa Arts Center. Attendees came for the brownies. They came for the ice cream. They came because they went to BYU. They came because they hope to go to BYU. They came to see a hero. They came to introduce their kids to their heroes. They came to hear Vocal Point. They came because they hope to be in Vocal Point. They came to hear something new. They came to feel some nostalgia, and connect to their BYU family.
Robbie Bosco: Football Star, Builder of People
Robbie Bosco, perhaps best known for quarterbacking Brigham Young University’s football team to the 1984 College Football National Championship against the University of Michigan, was the Summit’s opening speaker.
“Hopefully through my talk I can inspire at least one person,” he stated before the main event officially started.
Inspire he did.
In his presentation, he revealed that football was the only reason he chose to attend BYU, and was the only focus in his life at the time; little else mattered. Through the school’s gospel-centered environment, friends, and most importantly, through legendary former BYU coach LaVell Edwards, his focus broadened and he began to see the many lessons life still had to offer.
“There’s so much more to life than just one aspect,” he explained. “At the time all I cared about was football, but there is so much more.”
As he addressed the alumni and hopefuls gathered at the summit, he described “bringing a little bit of BYU” to Arizona and shared these life lessons. He told of how nervous he was once he walked into a live game as the team’s quarterback— so nervous that he was tempted to quit – and how he walked off injuries with which most would have succumbed. He had learned to overcome difficult things.
His NFL career was cut very short due to injury, but he explained that his time at BYU had expanded beyond football. It is clear that BYU and its football program changed everything for him, resulting in a humble man trying to do good in any way he can.
He currently is the quarterbacks coach of the BYU football team, and is a part of the Alumni Association as the Varsity Club Representative.
Matthew O. Richardson: BYU Vice President, Alumni Association Advocate
Next up was Matthew O. Richardson. A former member of the Sunday School General Presidency, Elder Richardson currently serves as BYU Vice President overseeing Athletics and Advancement. The Alumni Association falls happily within his jurisdiction.
Successful summits have been held on campus in Provo, Utah for the past two years. Each has featured prominent alumni to share their inspiring success stories and how they relate to the education they received at BYU. It’s been a way to engage with students, to show them their future and how they can go on to impact the world.
Now BYU is bringing the summit program to the alumni where they live, beginning with Arizona, which boasts one of the largest alumni groups at over 10,000 people. For those that attended the university, BYU is part of their roots, and the alumni association wants to keep that connection.
“This event is like a family reunion,” said Brother Richardson.
When asked what can be taught alumni about “finding their strength” and how that might be different than addressing students, Brother Richardson said, “We all have different seasons of life, but still need inspiration and strength to endure. We’re all still striving for perfection, no matter our age and circumstances in life.”
In his message to the alumni and friends gathered at the Summit, he spoke about the “Y,” regaling the crowd with BYU statistics from the amount of chocolate milk consumed to the number of marriages formalized. More seriously, he implored them to consider the value of knowing the “why” of what they do, and how that can make all the difference in finding their strength.
Sheri Dew: Author, Publisher, CEO Deseret Book
As the Summit’s final presenter, Sheri Dew exclaimed that she was thrilled to be a part of the event. Referring to the event’s theme, Finding Your Strength, Sheri remarked that the way to really find out who you are is to follow the Savior, the Light of the world.
“Surely everything that BYU stands for is wrapped up in trying to seek to be true followers of Jesus Christ. None of us are perfect at it, we all make mistakes. But, if we will seek, we’re in a much better position.”
When asked how she finds her strength, she explained, “If you’re not contributing, you’re not happy. If you’re not progressing, you’re not happy. We’re wired to want to progress.” Recognizing that strength is directly connected to understanding who you are and whose you are, she said, “That’s where it is. Otherwise, I’d be a puddle.”
Considering Sheri Dew’s list of positions, accomplishments and awards, it is pretty clear—she is no puddle. A Kansas native and BYU alumni, Sheri Dew spends her time leaving a trail of influence wherever she goes.
Sheri shared timely stories from the life of recently called President Russell M. Nelson, 14th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to embody her message. She invited the audience to consider those who influence them, past and present, as well as those they are in position to influence. She believes that as we each “look to the Lord and the things He does for us, putting us in situations where we meet people and learn things, we’re in position to have influence, perhaps even a healing, ennobling influence in the life of someone else.”
Wrapping up the event in a musical bow, award-winning a cappella group Vocal Point wowed the audience with their talent, singing a wide variety of songs and serenading possibly their most loyal fan, Sheri Dew, onstage. They humored the crowd with a game show known as “The Dad Joke Battle,” where contestants tried to stay straight-faced while getting their opponents to crack a smile. The highlight of the musical entertainment was certainly the group’s vocal percussionist, Matt Newman, who said his favorite thing to do is “drop the bass” in beat box style.
The Summit Isn’t Just For Cougars
Preston Cameron, Vice Chair of the BYU Alumni Arizona Chapter, explained that the purpose of the BYU Summit in is to conduct an event that is informative, educational, spiritual, and “not one geared to just BYU Provo alumni.” While sanctioned by the BYU-Provo Alumni Association, the chapter reaches out to all sister institutions. The chapter considers them part of the BYU family.
Since the BYU-Pathway Worldwide program began in 2009, more than 5,000 students from Arizona have progressed through the collegiate program. The Arizona chapter embraces its unique role to reach out to these students and alumni through mentorship and networking opportunities. What made this BYU Summit unique was its scope, sustained largely by the breadth and depth of support from alumni in Arizona. The chapter’s ties to BYU-Provo, Mesa Arts Center (City of Mesa), and Heritage Academy were vital to the event’s success.
Helping Local BYU Students Through Grants
Duane Oakes, Chair of the Arizona chapter, explained that “Funds raised from events such as the BYU Summit and the BYU Young Ambassadors performance help the chapter build Arizona’s BYU Replenishment Grant fund.” Inspired by the LDS Church’s Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF), BYU offers a unique program in which eligible students have a chance to receive financial assistance as well as an opportunity to pay it forward, helping others in similar situations. Prospective and current BYU students, including transfer students, can apply. This year BYU is offering to match funds raised by the chapter up to $5,000.
For further information regarding the BYU Alumni Arizona chapter and its replenishment fund, visit https://alumni.byu.edu/replenishment-grants. Donors may select the AZ Phoenix Replenishment Grant fund.
For more information about the alumni chapter, visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BYUAlumAZ/
To enjoy more of BYU Vocal Point, find them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (@byuvocalpoint)