Motivation Monday: Brandon

University of Utah | 2009
International Studies & Speech Communication

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Currently: Technology Engagement Librarian at the Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah
Self-described: Create, opportunity, persist
Enjoys: Getting outside, watching movies, cooking, riding bicycles, reading books
I feel most at peace when I'm a part of something more than myself.

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a first-generation college student and the only sibling in my family to pursue higher education. My sister is a full-time mom raising my five nephews and my brother is in the U.S. Army. I’ve learned that there are many different paths to take in life. For me, school felt like an extension of home - a place where I felt safe and secure - so I continued learning in a traditional way. I like to support others in being their best self, whether it be in continued education or other personal goals that don’t consist of tuition costs and student fees.

I’ve always loved learning and consider myself to be a lifelong learner. In addition to taking classes, I’ve always worked full-time or near full-time. I work hard and play hard. I feel that I’m at my best when I’m busy. I was able to participate in study abroad trips that gave me the opportunity to travel the world that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise.


Greatest source of inspiration in college

I had a few professors that helped me through trials and were a great source of inspiration. Through their excitement for research and learning, I was able to gain a voice in academia and start my own journey of discovery by being a part of important conversations and reading inspiring works.


How did other people help you get to where you are today?

Others have helped me by providing different perspectives than mine on important issues. I have a richer understanding of the world because of the relationships I’ve made with those that are different than me. I love conversations regarding the importance of access, equity, and diversity in education and it’s something I try and represent while working at a university today.

Coffee or tea?
Tea please

Dog or cat?

PC or Mac?

Early bird or night owl?
Night owl

Cake or pie?
Both for sweet!
I’m a big fan of savory pies.

Major / Minor
International Studies & Speech Communication
Information & Education

Years Attended

Grad Year


Favorite thing

I mostly enjoyed the extracurricular or co-curricular activities associated with college. Whether it be learning icebreakers at orientation, volunteering at a local school, singing along with others in a choir, or learning new leadership skills, I enjoy being a part of a community of learners. I’ve been able to connect with the most wonderful people because of the opportunities I had engaging in activities outside of the classroom.


Least favorite thing

I was never a big fan of the drinking culture in some college communities. If you do choose to go to a college party, buddy up and know that it’s okay to just leave and watch a good movie instead if you’re not enjoying yourself or feel uncomfortable in the slightest.


Tell us about a challenge you faced. How did you overcome it?

I lost my mother when I was a sophomore in college, which was really hard. I remember being given the choice to take a leave of absence from school but felt strongly that the relationships I made in college were what could get me through hard times.


How did you decide what to major in?

I initially wanted to be a news broadcaster because that is what my grandfather did before he retired. I was a big theater nerd in high school and thought it corresponded well to being a broadcaster, but I was completely wrong. Theater made me feel like I was overreacting to situations. Ultimately, I felt more compelled to the interpersonal connections I was making with classmates, which is why I decided to pursue speech communication.

Later, I had the opportunity to study abroad in a small town in the Czech Republic, where I studied linguistics and assisted in local community projects. I felt deeply connected to the people there and, as a result, decided I wanted to learn more about international issues.


What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?

  1. Ask for help. Whenever you’re feeling out of place or don’t know what to do next, just ask around. There is always someone that is willing to give advice and assist when you’re unsure of the next step.

  2. Get to know the community. More than just being a college student, you are now part of a community. Both on-campus and off-campus, it’s nice to feel connected to something. Whether it was by visiting a local music shop for suggestions, volunteering for a shelter, or going to a bike shop to get or fix a bike, I always felt most at peace when I was a part of something more than myself. Invest in where you live and you’ll be rewarded.

  3. Document the way. By documenting my journey, I always felt it allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my experiences. Sketches in class, pictures posted on social media, and past assignments I worked hard to complete gave me an electronic paper trail of where I’ve been. Seeing what I’ve done helped me to better envision the future.

Best advice you received?

"Never forget the people who helped you get you to where you are today."

I’ve always tried to have a sense of gratitude in everything I do and I’m thankful for all those who’ve helped me along the way. Writing thank you cards or sending a quick text or email is always appreciated.


What's your secret for time management and productivity?

Something I did before going to grad school was to increase my reading speed through an app on my phone. It was a great tool as I found scanning articles and books to be imperative to my success as a student.


How do you de-stress?

I get outside! I love exploring trails nearby, riding a bike to get around, or hanging up a hammock in a park and just taking the day in.


Book recommendation

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology

This book helped me understand the complexities that technology has created in situations relevant to our everyday lives, like education and health care. I think it’s especially important today since technology can sometimes be relied on too much, instead of just utilizing it as a tool.


Final thoughts?

I’m excited to be a part of this community and hope we can continue to share our experiences with one another.


Can students contact you directly?


Connect with Brandon