Cougar newbies get their feet wet.

Ruby Red in the Face

By Hannah Gibby Sikora (BA ’10) | San Antonio

My Y Group leaders at New Student Orientation had unfortunate taste in get-to-know-you games. While everyone else was telling two truths and a lie, members of my group were desperately trying to learn each other’s names and perfectly recount a tongue twister to avoid having lipstick applied to our faces.

Cartoon of BYU students with red lipstick painted on their face like facial hair.

Illustration by Travis Foster

“My name is Hannah, and I have no ruby-red lipstick marks. How many ruby-red lipstick marks does [name of another person in the group] have?” If we messed up, someone in the group branded our faces with a bright red line of lipstick.

Right after our lipstick facial hair was applied, our group leaders took us straight on a campus tour.

Being extremely shy and newly paranoid about ruby-red lipstick marks, I tried hard to master the tongue twister. But near the end of the game, when I heard, “How many does Hannah have?” I panicked and stumbled, earning a mark on my face. By this point, my peers were getting more comfortable with one another and a little more expressive with their art. So I landed an exaggerated handlebar mustache. I was mortified. Why? Because right after the cosmetic facial hair was applied, our group leaders took us straight on a campus tour.

Goodbye, Hello

By Jessica M. Bridenstine (BS ’09) | Provo

I got my associate’s degree at a Colorado community college before I came to BYU. My last day at one school was literally my first day at the other. Bright and early in the morning, I took my math final in Denver. My dad picked me up, my suitcase in the back of the car, and took me directly to the airport. I landed in Salt Lake City, drove to Provo, dropped off my luggage at my new apartment, and rushed to campus, tiptoeing in late to my first class. Not many students can give the excuse that they were late for the first day of class because they had a final in another state.

Who’s Who

By Kenalee Helquist Winn (BS ’64) | Nephi, Utah

I was a freshman at BYU in the fall of 1959, and I was anxious but excited as I started becoming familiar with my surroundings. One day as a group of my new friends and I were walking across campus, we began pointing out specific buildings and noting their namesakes: Heber J. Grant, Joseph F. Smith, David O. McKay.

I then had what I thought was a very good question, so I went ahead and asked it: “Why didn’t they name something after Brigham Young?” As soon as the question left my mouth, realization and awareness returned to my brain, so I followed up with a sheepish, “Well, I guess they did.” After a silent pause, we all burst into laughter. We kept laughing for the rest of our walk—across the campus named for Brigham Young.


Cartoon of a student tripping on a sidewalk.

Illustration by Travis Foster

Stumbling into Something

By Jessie Walker Clark (BS ’06) | Healy, Alaska

When I arrived for orientation at BYU as a shy and starry-eyed freshman, I decided I needed to start talking to guys. With that goal in mind, I approached a cute guy from Alaska—Keith R. Clark (’06). We started talking as we headed to the next activity. I must have drifted over, because before I knew it, he had stumbled off the sidewalk and I was left standing at the edge. I’m sure I turned an attractive shade of red as I apologized. He must have liked that in a girl. A month later we were dating, and three and a half years later we were married. Stepping out of my comfort zone—and knocking him out of his—was definitely worth it.

Ditch Dive

By Trenton J. Bowen (BA ’05) | Alexandria, Va.

As an incoming freshman and new member of the BYU Bowling and Games Center staff, I wrapped up New Student Orientation activities on the bowling lanes with my roommate, Adam J. Youngberg (BS ’13), and my new coworkers. As the center was closing down, the question arose of how to dispose of two large helium-balloon columns framing the doorway. Adam and I quickly volunteered to take them—what better décor for our new Heritage Halls apartment?

Balloon columns in hand, we jogged through a parking lot and across a street toward our hall. As we were still unfamiliar with campus geography, we had forgotten that between the street and our hall was a large canal. When I turned to say something to Adam, my feet hit the downward slope of the grass lining the canal. I threw my weight back in a last-ditch attempt to stay dry, but it was to no avail. I slid down into the water and lost my grip on my balloons, which began to float skyward. Adam was more focused on retrieving the balloons than on his own trajectory: he jumped, caught them, and wound up in the canal as well. We were soaked, but we firmly believed it was worth the trouble to decorate our new place.


By Clifford L. Sheets II (BS ’00) | Houston

It was the first Sunday of the semester for our Deseret Towers student ward. In sacrament meeting the bishopric invited us all to come to the stand and introduce ourselves. We each took our turn, and when a Polynesian sister got up front and greeted us with a booming “Aloha!” most of us understood we were expected to answer in kind. We complied, shouting our own enthusiastic “Aloha!” Of course, the first response is never adequate. “Oh, you can do better than that!” the sister exclaimed, punctuating the critique with an even louder “Aloha!” Not wanting to disappoint our exotic new sister, we practically shouted, “Aloha!” The sister didn’t seem to understand why we all burst into laughter when she then told us where she was from: Las Vegas.

An Inauspicious Start

By JoLynn Ross Duris (’03) | Highlands Ranch, Colo.

I was really looking forward to New Student Orientation, which started with a dinner on a field packed with freshmen. I got in line for food, and someone handed me a plate. The next thing I knew, I was waking up under a tree on the side of the field, surrounded by people: I had passed out.

In my newly conscious state I met a handful of deans and other important people. A few upperclassmen were there too, practically bouncing with excitement that somebody needed service. They got me food and water, and the head of student activities even offered me a ticket to a campus concert. My head was swirling with how surreal everything was. Finally, I was allowed to go, so I headed back to my dorm and went to bed.

It’s a good thing I don’t believe in signs; my bumpy start might have scared me away from what would become a BYU experience I loved.