Alumni Tell Stories of Getting Lost
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First Person

Some Who Wander Are Lost

When the world is your campus, it’s best to bring a map.

Unsuccessful Avoidance

By Daunell Jensen Clarke (BGS ’16), American Fork, UT 

I was not planning to attend BYU. Perhaps I was even planning not to attend BYU! I didn’t even apply. 

One early morning after I graduated with a two-year degree from a local college, my dad bundled me and my suitcase into our sedan to drive 950 miles to Provo for a job interview at Deseret Towers. My best friend had been hired as a resident assistant, and she said the head resident at T Hall was unexpectedly shorthanded. Room and board were included, and I wouldn’t have to even be a student for the summer job. 

It took a couple of weeks before it really struck me where I was. While laughing with a new friend over lunch at the Morris Center, I noticed a blue-and-white poster on the wall behind her: BYU Food Services. The world seemed to swirl as I saw similar signs on every wall of the cafeteria: BYU, BYU, BYU. Despite all my misgivings about BYU, I was here anyway! 

Over the next few days, I realized that God had taken me by the hand and led me, blindfolded as it were, to BYU. He had blessings to offer, and I needed to be at BYU to receive them. I knew then that I wanted to be a student, not merely a summertime employee, so I submitted an application. 

I met my husband at BYU, and we have lived in Utah County for more than 30 years. Our children also attended BYU, and we now have “loyal, strong, and true” grandchildren who “wear the white and blue.” 

Prayer Answered 

By Daniel G. Hodson (BA ’01), Idaho Falls, ID 

Illustration by Travis Foster

In college I was invited to a party at a cabin in Provo Canyon. The group decided to hike to Stewart Falls, about a mile away. 

We started off together, but I soon got impatient with the pace and decided to run ahead. After waiting for the others at the falls for some time, I realized the group wasn’t going to arrive. Heading back in the darkening light, I got turned around, did a little bushwhacking, and offered a prayer, eventually finding a road back to the cabin. 

Grateful, tired, and sweaty, I decided to cool down before entering the cabin. Sitting on a log, I could see my friends through the cabin’s large window frantically looking for something. I realized they were looking for flashlights to go find me! 

I then saw them all kneel in prayer, leaving me feeling both grateful and embarrassed. I silently cracked open the door and listened. When they came to the end of the prayer, I stepped into the room and exclaimed, “Amen!” along with everyone else. For good measure I added, “Your prayers are answered.” 

First-Test Fail 

By Brooke Hellewell Reynolds (BA ’98), Laguna Niguel, CA 

I graduated from high school on Friday and started summer term on Monday. I had no time to find my classes in advance.

The first day of school, I set out for my freshman English class in the Heber J. Grant Building. I could see a building marked HGB on my handy school map and soon found the corner of campus where the building was supposedly located. But as I walked around, I could not for the life of me find any building by that name.

I asked several students for help, but they said they’d never heard of a Grant Building. I retraced my steps and tried to think of where I had gone wrong. After 30 minutes of searching, I finally sat down on a bench in front of the Testing Center and tried not to cry.

I called my teacher later that day to explain why I’d missed class. She then informed me that our English class was in the Testing Center—otherwise known as the HGB. I had been sitting in front of the Grant Building the whole time.

For an Audience of None

By Allyson Wride Ford (BA ’95), St. George, UT

Illustration by Travis Foster

It was the first day of classes my freshman year, and I was a mess of nerves and insecurities. For some reason, it was vitally important to me that the total strangers I passed on campus thought I was experienced, self-assured, and capable. To that end, I had memorized the route to my first class. I strode confidently down the sidewalk, bravely greeting the other students I encountered, though I did think it odd that the number of other students on my path kept dwindling. It wasn’t until I dead-ended at a guardrail overlooking the HVAC system of some building on the south rim of campus that I understood why: my mental map had betrayed me!

Determined to keep up appearances, I leaned over the guardrail and nodded as if I had meant to charge over to this particular corner of campus and admire the back of this particular building all along. I then stole a surreptitious glance at my campus map and strolled away, eventually—and somewhat miraculously—ending up in my actual classroom. For all my worry, I don’t think any of those other students watched this performance.

Bucket-List Bust

By Melanie Liddell Cheney (BA ’93), Lexington, VA

One night a young man from my ward came to support me in my first University Chorale concert. After the concert he said, “Hey, let’s hike to the Y.” Cute guy and bucket-list item—of course I said yes. The only problem: neither of us had ever hiked the Y before. After changing clothes, we headed off toward the mountain at about 10 p.m. without flashlights. After hitting a dead end, hopping a fence, and sneaking through a backyard, we found a small footpath directly under the Y. We thought this had to be the trail. Climbing almost straight up the mountain through prickly bushes for an hour, we finally came to a clearing and decided we’d had enough adventure for one night. We sat on a rock and looked out over the valley before beginning our not-so-pleasant journey back down.

Not only did we later learn about the actual trail farther down the mountain, but we also realized the clearing we stopped in was just below the Y. A few more minutes and we would have made it.

It would be 15 years before I actually made it to the Y. So much for the bucket list.