Forever BYU Friends - Y Magazine
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First Person

Forever BYU Friends

Grads who shared campus rooms, trials, and triumphs also built lasting bonds.

Hear BYU alumni share their friendship stories on the Y Magazine podcast. Make sure to subscribe on YouTubeApple Podcasts, or Spotify.

Baby Face Jones

By Collins R. Jones (BS ’94), San Clemente, CA

Illustration by Travis Foster

In the late summer of 1988, my BYU experience began as I hit the road, leaving my parents, two younger brothers, and Scottsdale, Arizona, in the rearview mirror of a GMC Jimmy. The highway miles could not pass by fast enough.

I arrived in Provo to a mostly empty Q Hall. Deseret Towers felt uninhabited. Homesickness drained my enthusiasm as I spent the first night in the dorm alone.

The following morning I eagerly welcomed a new neighbor, Shon T. Colarusso (BA ’95). He carried golf clubs, hair clippers, and a deafening boom box. Next his roommate, Alan E. McCown (BA ’95), arrived, carrying bagpipes and a camera. Finally my roommate, Clark G. Gilbert (BA ’94), carried in a Macintosh computer and sets of matching monogrammed towels for both of us.

We quickly became close friends, forming lifelong bonds like brothers.

That October I was the first to turn 19. Shon, Al, and Clark presented to me a birthday card with a smiling baby on the front. “Baby Face Jones,” a nickname earned due to my inability to grow facial hair, was penned on the card.

Within the next five years, all four of us served missions, married in the temple, and graduated from BYU. I am still the least likely to grow a beard.

Bouncing Back

By Trevor J. Budge (BS ’99, MS ’00), West Richland, WA

My freshman-year roommate, Justin T. Halverson (BA ’00, MA ’02), and I were each nurturing long-distance romances through passionate letters, the occasional mixtape, and expensive phone calls. Our first phone bill cost half as much as our monthly rent.

Then over the Christmas break, we were both dumped. That first month back, an intense feeling of malaise permeated our dorm room. One day while we indulged in yet another playlist-fueled pity party, Justin exclaimed, “What are we doing?!?” He challenged me to join him in doing something social every day for the rest of the semester.

No activity was too small, and, thankfully, the members of the BYU 19th Ward were welcoming friends. We danced, hiked, sampled the finest cuisine—from the Belgian Waffle to Jerry’s Dairy and Burger Barn—and scoured the Wilk for any random moment of fun.

Our ward is planning a 30-year reunion this coming July. I will never regret getting out of my room, and I eternally owe Justin for waking me up and taking me along for the ride.

Forever Friends

By Karen Crowther Harper (BS ’82), Arnold, MD

At the beginning of my junior year, most of my friends were married and I didn’t really have a roommate or housing plan. A girl I barely knew invited me to live with her and a few of her friends. I hesitantly agreed, and it turned out that the six of us got along beautifully.

After graduation we got busy with our own lives, careers, and families. In 2014 several of us met up while taking our own children to BYU–Idaho to share our trials and triumphs of the past 34 years through six hours of tears and laughter.

Then in 2019 I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I spent six weeks in a hospital in Washington, DC. Two of these former roommates of mine flew across the country to help take care of me—they literally had to do everything for me. One Sunday morning they washed me while I sat in my wheelchair. I watched as they were on their knees, washing my feet. The tears rolled down my face as I realized how much like the Savior they were in their selfless acts of service.

A Love of All Things Japanese

By David S. McDowell (BA ’96), Bow, NH

I could smell my new room at Deseret Towers before I could see it. After exiting the elevator on the eighth floor, arms full of bedding and orientation papers, I was met with the pleasant, salty smell of miso soup. My roommate, smiling and unassuming, met me at the end of the hall. He was a young man from Japan studying at the English Language Center with hopes of passing the required language test to enter BYU. I bowed instinctively as he introduced himself and returned the gesture. We were instant friends. Throughout my freshmen year, I helped him differentiate English words like “glove,” “grove,” and “globe,” and he introduced me to all things Japanese.

I added Japanese language classes to my schedule, and through the course of my undergraduate studies, I would eventually complete classes in Japanese economics, politics, art, poetry, and geography. A substantial part of my mission was spent near an English language training center for Japanese students, and my minimal language skills (and genuine love for Japanese people) were put to good use.

I don’t know how much inspiration was requested when roommate assignments were made in 1990, but I am forever grateful for my dear Japanese roommate.

Proper Partners 

By Olivia Witt Snow (BA ’17), Klamath Falls, OR

Illustration by Travis Foster

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when it comes to group projects, one person always does most of the work—and I was always that person. So when Sarah Bennion Keenan (BA ’17) and I got paired for a group project in a grammar class, I outwardly smiled and inwardly groaned.

Little did I know that Sarah was also that person. When we met in the library that day, we were both wary of each other’s inevitable laziness. We quickly discovered that not only were we both equally passionate about the difference between fewer and less, but we also shared fantasy-reading, clothes-thrifting, gospel-seeking, type-A++ personalities.

I finished my first draft while in labor, furiously typing out the last three chapters between contractions. 

Sarah and I partnered up for the rest of our BYU careers. We led the editing and design teams in our capstone publication class. We managed the student journal Schwa. We even joined forces as teaching assistants for the same grammar class we met in. Even after graduation, we still find time between children and work for our weekly, two-person writing group.

Sarah and I made a pact that we would finish our novels before we gave birth. I finished my first draft while in labor at the hospital, furiously typing out the last three chapters between contractions. Sarah also finished her novel in the hospital while recovering from her C-section as her twins grew stronger in the NICU.

Sarah and I live on opposite sides of the country, but the friendship that formed in Provo spans greater than that distance. I never thought I’d say it, but I am so grateful for group projects.


After 52 years of blessing the BYU community, the Provo Temple is being reconstructed. To honor the many memories made there, please share your (reverently) humorous, heartwarming, or inspiring experience inside or outside of this sacred structure. Deadline: March 20.

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