Commentary

The Lasting Value of a Good Connection

Learning and serving together, connected BYU alumni can make the world a better place.

A man and woman have a discussion in a hallway.
Photo by Bradley Slade

You could say BYU raised me. I spent a large part of my childhood on and around BYU’s campus. One of my first memories is meeting BYU basketball legend Kresimir Cosic (’73) in the Cougareat when I was about 4. He was impossibly tall.

My childhood BYU connections were not just on campus. We always had BYU students living in the basement of our home in the tree streets. These connections were much more personal, as those students not only patiently tolerated the blond kid with all the questions, they also often shared their BYU experiences with me—their favorite classes, their aspirations, their dates, and their testimonies. They have influenced my life in ways small and large, and I consider them friends to this day.

I earned English and law degrees from BYU. Those were good and happy times. I made friends with classmates and ward members. I grew close with a number of my professors. I savored my BYU experience. Campus felt like home.

And then I moved to Chicago and began working long hours at a big law firm. As my BYU memories faded just a bit, so too did my feeling of connection with the school I loved. But before long, fellow BYU alums in Chicago and elsewhere began reaching out to me, and I reached back. We connected. We shared our common BYU experiences and remembered together.

As a result of one connection, I flew back to Provo to watch a football game. It was a beautiful fall day. From my seat in the stadium, I could see a vertical panorama—the green grass, the blue-clad crowd, the tan and red and purple mountain with that inspiring white Y, and the deep blue sky above. Although not officially the homecoming game, it was a personal homecoming for me.

Not long after that game, I came back to the law school and spent time with students. I began to reconnect with some of my professors, and I felt the familiar draw of being with people of diverse backgrounds and views but of one common purpose—to make the world a better place by learning and serving together.

Energized by these experiences, I became more involved in alumni events in Chicago, and after moving back to Utah, I regularly volunteered to mentor BYU students and to create opportunities for BYU alumni to connect with each other. Those opportunities have greatly enriched my life.

The BYU Alumni Association’s motto is “Connected for Good.” Connected BYU alumni can do much to make the world a better place. But perhaps even more important, as we learn and serve together, we connect with each other at a deeper level. And then our BYU connections become not just “for good” in the sense of doing good things, but also “for good” in the sense of permanency.

To BYU students, recent grads, and more experienced alumni, allow me to suggest one way to connect with each other that will make your lives better. Register now with BYU Connect at connect.byu.edu. BYU Connect is the new platform that links students with alumni as well as alumni with alumni. Its purpose is to “facilitate professional mentoring and networking opportunities within the BYU community.”

I have had many amazing personal experiences using BYU Connect and its predecessors to network with and mentor wonderful BYU students from coast to coast. My experience has been that it takes mere minutes to generate a positive connection, and as with most worthwhile things in life, I always seem to get more out of these interactions than I give. These students have taught me so much and remind me again and again what a blessing it is to be a BYU alum. I am ever grateful to be connected to this school—and to hundreds of thousands of students and alumni—for good.

Portrait of Jonathan Hafen.
Photo by Bradley Slade

Jonathan Hafen is a lawyer in Salt Lake City and the president of the BYU Alumni Association.

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