By Charlene Renberg Winters, ’73
IF Brent R. Knudsen, ’78, looked familiar to event organizers as he finished a BYU Parents’ Weekend 5K race, it’s because he has been an active participant in the weekend for each of the three years the university has offered the event—and he usually finishes the race near the front of the pack. This year, nearly 200 runners participated.
“I live near Stanford University, where they have a parents’ program,” says the Los Gatos, Calif., resident. “It’s a really big deal there, and I think it should become an equally big deal at BYU. I have a few friends who are here for the weekend because I told them about it, and I plan to keep coming as long as I have students at BYU. It’s a unique way to be with your children.”
This year he came for his daughter Andrea, ’05, who is majoring in elementary education. In addition to the family 5K, he attended the opening dinner with President Merrill J. Bateman and went to two faculty lectures.
Parents’ Weekend coincides with the October general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ. “We selected this date because many parents are coming to conference anyway, which makes it convenient to be part of Parents’ Weekend,” explains Nancy Carson, event planner for BYU Alumni Relations. “We’ve had many parents express their appreciation for the timing of the event, and we hope to interest even more parents who will be in Utah the first weekend in October next year.”
This year parents from 30 states, as well as from Japan and Canada, converged on the campus to participate in a series of educational, cultural, and entertainment activities with their children. The offerings ranged from the serious to the whimsical and included tours of campus, the 5K run, the Museum of Art’s Empire of the Sultans exhibition, three faculty lectures, a breakfast, and an eclectic Girls’ Night Out during the general priesthood session.
Alvaro and Sandra Gonzales of Los Angeles, Calif., attended every activity and say it was a great opportunity to be with their son Piero, ’05, a freshman majoring in dance. “Everything was well organized and educational,” says Sandra. “We will come again.”
New to the program was a Testing Center experience for parents. They could choose from four general-education tests to see how well they performed and, perhaps, to give them a little empathy for their children.
“We had parents who said there was absolutely no way they were going to take a test and others who asked if they could do it as a couple,” Carson explains. “It was really cute to see how excited some parents became. I have to say, though, that two heads did not usually perform better than one.”
Also for the first time this year, deans and administrators served as hosts at each of the tables at President Bateman’s dinner. “I had the vice president of academics at my table, and it was great to be connected with one of the leaders of the university,” Knudsen says.
Future plans include an open house with professors to allow parents to meet some of their children’s teachers.
INFO: Parents’ Weekend is one facet of the Parents’ Program, sponsored by the BYU Alumni Association. Parents interested in getting involved in the program should contact Nancy Carson at 801-422-6748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.