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I might have mentioned the “don’t just give a person a fish, teach them how to fish for themselves” analogy in previous posts, but it’s one of my personal favorites.  This analogy came to mind again today after reading a great piece of news in the USA Today.  Apparently there is legislation being worked on that will require obesity education for school aged children, 1st – 12th grade.   Not only is this a fantastic idea, but the article highlights that the American Medical Association, the largest group of physicians in the U.S., is endorsing this measure! 

The  topic of obesity has grown substantially over the past few years, due in large measure to the extent with which it is effecting our country.  Obesity in America has moved passed the point of being a “growing concern” and is now a real and present danger.  Now this might sound a little over-the-top to some out there, because we’re just talking about someones fat, right?  Unfortunately excessive body fat is far more dangerous than just a little muffin top. 

According to the CDC, obesity is linked with most of the common deadly diseases/disorders that we hear about on a day to day basis.   With more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) being obese, it makes sense that these diseases are so prevelant.  I’ve heard said before that some many people are obese because of the diseases, but that ladies and gentleman, is completely false.  Obesity, 9 times out of 10, is the cause of the additional diseases, not vica versa.

So, after going through that little discussion, I’m so excited for the nation to be moving in the direction of helping kids prevent obesity all together.  Being overweight is hard, and the journey to lose weight can be extremely difficult.  I remember when i was trying to slim down, I experienced rollercoaster emotions every single workout.  How much better it would be for the youth of the next generations to grow up unferetted by extreme weight struggles, and have them focus that energy towards more constructive ventures in their developing years.

Here’s the USA TODAY article again:  “American Medical Assoc.: Require obesity education for kids”

Chilean Mine Collapse

When the general populace thinks over a disaster, often times they think of the physical impacts, which have a beginning point and an end point.  For example, many in society see the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as a complete catastrophe that began with the massive flooding, resulted in numerous deaths, and ended with the rebuilding of areas in the path of destruction.  Interestingly, after a certain period of time, people begin to believe that the disaster is over once they see the physically destroyed areas rebuilt (Alam, 1990). The true extent of disasters is much larger than this, and most disasters cannot be classified with a beginning and end so far as psychological impact is concerned.  Although individuals who are affected by disasters might appear to have come through unscathed, the mental health impact is notorious for being a hidden danger for many years to come (Weisæth, 1989).   One author summed up this point perfectly,

“After the headlines are gone and the world moves on, most people assume that those affected by natural disasters get their lives together and move on. Unfortunately, many disaster survivors experience severe psychological distress and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.) These illnesses can go under-reported and under-treated in the wake of a disaster, but can be just as debilitating as losing a home or possessions, and can last for many years (Merzenich, 2011).”

Mental health studies are a growing field within the medical community, and have taken an appropriate place in importance in regard to an individual’s complete health.  Since the early 1940’s, the medical community began officially recognizing the psychological aspects of health as important, and this recognition was culminated in 1946 when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially released their definition of health as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946).   The inclusion of “mental and social well-being” was a huge accomplishment for many in the medical field, and served as a type of launching point for the future of psychological studies.

With the importance of mental health in mind, an evaluation of the mine collapse from that perspective is necessary for a full appreciation of the disaster.  This is especially true given that almost all aspects of a disaster have a funnel effect that feeds into the psychological aspects of disasters.  The mental effects are far reaching, going from those in direct danger, to those working against the disaster, all the way to the family of those affected in any way by the disaster.  When all of these aspects are taken into account, a comprehensive analysis can begin.

From the very first instance of the collapse, the disaster was under way mentally, “Psychologically, the worst part, was when they were completely cut off from the outside world and they were struggling with near certain death” according to Dr. Fairbanks of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.  He continues, “That is the beginning of their traumatic narrative and was part of the experience with which they now have to deal” (Zimmerman, 2010).  Those first seconds, minutes, and hours were the first, and possibly most damaging, part of the miners struggle for survival both physically and psychologically.  As Dr. Fairbanks pointed out, these men had to come to terms with the fact that they were almost half a mile below the surface, trapped in a hot, damp, and dark environment, and that they had no way to escape or communicate with the outside world.  Not only would this have been extremely stressful, but it would have also been an extremely demoralizing feeling to be completely vulnerable to death and illness unless someone came to their rescue.

The next two weeks would have amounted to be equally unbearable as the miners had no idea if anyone was looking for them, and if they would be able to survive on the meager supplies they had.  Because the men made a pact not to disclose what transpired during this time in the mine, all researchers can go off of are the few obvious facts and details which the miners did express.  The very thought of: being stuck in an underground shelter with 32 other men, with extremely small amounts of sustenance, lack of adequate lighting, and each individual fighting back the fears of death; these images alone are enough for anyone to feel slightly uneasy.  In general, these first two weeks of no contact with the outside world must have been anything but pleasant for those involved.

During the same time as the miners were struggling for their own mental and physical well being, their families were also undergoing unknown ranges of emotions.  This is another aspect that few consider, but will be briefly addressed here.  Many of the families of the miners, although greatly impacted, took action immediately by going to the mine itself and setting up a camp of sorts.  The fact that the Chilean government supported this action is a huge triumph so far as mental health response goes, because the government allowed these family members to be as close as possible to their loved ones.  This proximity, although not necessary, served as a great mental relief for many family members (Ellershaw, 2003).  Counseling services were also provided to the families during the course of the disaster, which also helped stabilize and support the family members.

After initial contact was made with the trapped miners through the bore hole, a new phase began in the mental stability of the miners; they no longer wondered about survival so much as duration.  Although reaching the miners was a huge accomplishment and boosted spirits greatly, it also had the effect of heightening a sense of “stir craziness” and restlessness, which oft times had resulted in reckless behaviors (Dasgupta, 2001).   In an insightful move, the Chilean government assigned psychologist Alberto Iturra, “to help support the miners…to talk to them, sometimes several times a day, to sort through their frustrations and depression.”  In a further effort to aid the miners while they were stuck below ground, Dr. Iturra consulted with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on planning strategies to avoid long-term negative consequences for the trapped miners.  NASA was an excellent resource to tap because they not only staff excellent psychologists, but they are intimately familiar with how to handle small, confined, and isolated instances over long periods of time (Zimmerman, 2010).

The most essential aspect of the disaster from the mental health impact is by far the time the miners were finally liberated from their captivity and through till the present. Appropriately one psychologist stated he, “is especially concerned about the psychological effects…these miners would have been incredibly stressed, and they will need psychological support to recover” (Zimmerman, 2010).  The recovery of mental issues is far longer lasting then the recovery of broken bones and wounded flesh, and the monitoring of psychological issues must be all the more vigilant because of the subtle nature of mental illness.  “Zvonko Mir, MD, from Reha Klinik Walenstadtberg in Germany, said he is also more concerned about the mental than physical health consequences of the accident. ‘Psychiatric support will be the number 1 concern, in my opinion’” (Zimmerman, 2010).

Alam, S. N. (1990), Perceptions of Flood Among Bangladeshi Villagers. Disasters, 14: 354–357.

Weisæth, L. (1989), The stressors and the post-traumatic stress syndrome after an industrial disaster. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 80: 25–37.

Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

Ellershaw, John. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), Vol. 326, No. 7379. (4 January 2003), pp. 30-34.

Dasgupta, Partha. Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment, Vol. 1, No. 9. (November 2001), pp. 33-41.

Zimmerman, Ron. Buried Alive: How Will Mental Health of Chilean Miners Fare?, Medscape Medical News. (October, 2010) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/730393

Thought this would be a timely article to publish given that it’s the busy travel season of Christmas.  Also, with the humorous issues revolving around the Alec Baldwin being escorted off of his American Airlines flight because he wouldn’t turn off his phone.  This post is a mock business analysis for Southwest Airlines (my airline of choice).

Background:

“Southwest Airlines” has been the leading low-cost airline in America for the past 30 years.  Although this airline is not known for its luxury, it has gained a lasting reputation as reliable and costumer friendly.  Not only does “Southwest Airlines” boast being one of the largest airlines in the world, but this airline has the highest amount of passenger travel within the U.S.

 

Situation:

On February 13th, 2010, passenger Kevin Smith was escorted off an airplane preparing to depart because his “size” required more than the one seat he occupied.  Because the flight was full, and no additional seats were available to accommodate Kevin Smith’s size, the pilot had Smith escorted off the flight to wait until another flight with more seats available could transport him.  Airline policy dictates that a person of Kevin Smith’s size needs to meet certain standards in order to occupy one seat, which the flight crew claims he did not meet.

This situation has resulted in public relations challenges because Kevin Smith is no “ordinary” customer, but a celebrity of sorts within the United States.  Because of this, his outrage at being escorted off the flight has been highly publicized.

 

Core Problem/Opportunity:

Southwest, which has held a long standing reputation for excellent customer service, faces the challenge of appeasing Smith while also maintaining the integrity and popularity of its consumers.

 

Goals & Objectives:

Southwest needs to take advantage of this highly publicized incident by addressing Smith’s situation, but more importantly showing the Airlines’ publics that it is better than ever at what it has always done well.

  • Publicly apologize to Smith, and other customers who have felt mistreated in the past (Southwest has already done this).
  • Promise to review and evaluate the policies that played a role in Smith’s situation immediately.
  • Avoid any other high profile/publicized problems that would shine negatively on the company for the next six months.
  • Immediately release a new incentive for those who fly Southwest Airlines.
  • Send out news releases for the next three months having to do with Southwest’s consistent on-time departures and arrivals.

 

 

Key Publics & Messages:

Public #1

  1. Overweight individuals.
  2. Because people tend to band together with those who share similarities to themselves, overweight people might feel the need to band together with Smith.
  3. These individuals might feel that they have been targeted by Southwest Airlines in the Smith situation and therefore be wary of the company or upset with the airline.
  4. As a result of Smith being a public figure, he has been very outspoken in protesting against Southwest Airlines, and might rally support from those who listen.
  5. This public will want to see change within the Southwest policies so that they do not feel discriminated against, as well as they might want further statements of regret and promises of change from Southwest.

Public #2

  1. Individuals who use airlines to travel.
  2. These people want safe, friendly, comfortable, and affordable travel arraingments.
  3. The Smith situation would not have affected the majority of travelers personally, but it might have weakened their trust in the airline’s excellent customer service.
  4. Smith could also influence these individuals to travel on other airlines.
  5. This public represents the source of revenue for Southwest, and is therefore the most important group to work with. So long as the general public stays in the companies favor, others will follow suit eventually.

Southwest Airlines is committed to being the most efficient and reliable airline in the industry.  We will continue to work to improve in all areas of our airline, and promise to continue getting you to your destination in a friendly, timely, and comfortable manner.

 

Strategies & Tactics:

In order to reach both publics, various communication mediums will need to be used.  Targeting magazines that overweight individuals are likely to read is one channel to pursue.   Working with Oprah, who boasts a diverse audience, would be an excellent opportunity to reassure potential clients that Southwest Airlines can be trusted.

Calendar:      

Within six months Southwest Airlines should be a common household name with positive connotation.  One year should mark the end of targeted marketing towards those affected by the Smith issue.

  • Public one should feel confident and comfortable with riding Southwest by August 2010, just before the big Labor Day travel.
  • Public two will have maintained the same positive attitude toward Southwest, in addition to feeling a boost because of the new incentives presented within three months from now.
  • By the one year mark of February 13th, 2010, Southwest Airlines will have more name recognition than before, and be the first choice when looking at traveling by air with in the various publics Southwest caters towards. This will be measured by new surveys found within the front pouch of each seat on board an airplane.

 

Evaluation Criteria & Tools:

Throughout the next year various online questionnaires will be given to customers who purchase tickets online, so that the airline can continue being focused in on the right issues.  In addition to the online questionnaires, surveys will be available to any fliers who wish to participate.

In all Southwest is currently responding extremely well. They have issued multiple formal apologies to Kevin Smith, have redesigned their website, and have offered several great travel pricing discounts.  I have noticed personally more advertisements from Southwest that have been very helpful and constructive to them rebuilding their image.  In the future they should get involved with a celebrity such as Oprah, and continue using the media for name recognition.


The following two articles are areas of PR that I’ve considered to be important and timely.  The purpose for sharing these here, and not just leaving them in my own personal possession, is so that I can have outside perspectives on my views.

The state of the PR industry

“Losing the News,” Richard Edelman, 6 A.M., http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/archives/2010/01/

In Richard Edelman’s January 8th post, he discusses the need for good journalism for public relation representatives.  He begins his article by citing Alex Jones’s book, Losing the News.  Jones’s book reveals that “authoritative content” is losing steam, which will affect the field of public relations. Jones goes on to claim that news agencies face the responsibility to produce reliable facts, while doing so economically for their own survival.

Edelman continues by sharing a phone conversation he shared with Jones recently, in which they discussed public relation’s role in respect to the news.  Jones made the point that public relations should be “supporting excellence in journalism.”  He goes on to argue that public relations experts must avoid taking over the role of journalists, claiming that that would be self defeating for what public relation professionals are trying to accomplish.  Jones claims that when news journalism and public relations work in conjunction with each other is the time when the greatest good will come for both parties.  Without unbiased reports, public relations and news journalism will lose credibility.

So what is public relations to do?  Edelman and Jones both support the notion that public relations is to bolster the news with the best information that can be offered.  In presenting the most accurate information from public relation’s stance then allows the media to present information that should reflect exactly what a public relations expert want presented.

This article by Edelman points out some very interesting ideas I had not considered before.  Originally when I read this article I had assumed, as many do lately, that public relations and news journalism are melding together.  This seemed like a natural consequence given how accessible information is for most people, and also because the spreading of such information is much more doable for people.  Thankfully though, after reading this post I have been swayed to see and agree with Jones and Edelman’s position.  The danger in the media being taken over by public relations is that not only credibility will be lost, but also too many individuals claiming unbiased knowledge on topics will have to be taken at their word.  Although journalism today is far from unbiased, there still remains the responsibility they have to present information as it is given to them.  Therefore, public relations professionals have even more responsibility to get accurate and clear information out to the media.

Ethics in PR

“Toyota’s Moment of Weakness: Embroiled in Recall and Downsizing Crises, Auto Spokesman Says Carmaker Sacrificed Quality for Global Growth,” Blaine Harden, Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog, http://www.firmvoice.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=2436B6EB9392483ABB0A373E8B823A24&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=53D88D74A99849C185183B336A3F3B02&AudID=213D92F8BE0D4A1BB62EB3DF18FCCC68&tier=4&id=FBFB6EE78DB543FFACB58B822A392442

Just a week ago, Toyota set about one of the largest vehicle recalls in the past decade, as well as several closures of manufacturing sites.  The news came as a global surprise, especially leaving many surprised in the auto industry. “The auto world is perplexed by what could have gone so wrong so fast at such a stable company.”  Blaine Harden’s article, like many others as of late, brings to light some key contributing factors in Toyota’s unexpected situation.

As Harden quotes from Paul Nolasco, a Toyota spokesman that made a recent news release on behalf of Toyota, a clearer picture of what Toyota sees as its mistakes come to focus.  Nolasco said, “Expansion may have occurred to the extent where it is difficult for us to keep an eye on the ball.”  Although the company openly admitted to becoming caught up in the moment of their success, and forgetting about quality, that has not left their business practices unexamined.

Raymond LaHood, Transportation Secretary for the United States of America, revealed that opposed to Toyota’s claim that they stopped making eight car models by their own choice; LaHood claims that the federal government safety officials had to step in and tell Toyota to stop production.  Harden also pointed out that Congress might lead their own investigation into Toyota.  Along with Congress, a few major rental car companies have claimed to have moved thousands of Toyota’s from their rental program until questions have been resolved, showing that the nation is taking this situation very seriously.

Harden’s article inadvertently addresses the crucial element of Ethics within the field of PR.  At first glance of reading the statement from Toyota’s PR representative that Hardin quotes from, I thought that Toyota was doing an excellent job in admitting its mistakes and taking responsibility.  Unfortunately though upon more detailed reading, I can see that although Toyota takes responsibility for bad quality, they still try to pretend that they acted for the benefit of their clients without pressure, which is not the case according to the U.S. Transportation Secretary.  As a company’s PR representation, I believe that ethics encompasses more than not blatantly lying, but it also requires full disclosure of truth.  Unfortunately Toyota did not willing admit that the company stopped production on eight car models because of pressure from the government, but instead said their choice was, “voluntary.”  Because of this, my trust in them has been diminished even though their earlier honesty is admirable.  Ethics in PR is crucial because without it the public will lose confidence and trust in the company.

Specific Targets the project will address

            According to the latest data revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the HIV epidemic is still a growing problem within the nation; with over one million Americans who are currently living with HIV.  Not only are 56,000 new HIV infections occurring on a yearly bases within the United States, but astoundingly “More than 200,000 Americans are living with HIV but don’t know it (1 in 5 of those infected)”1.  With these statistics in mind, our organization identified the prevention of HIV transmission, through making HIV testing a more common practice, as the most prudent and timely national health concern that we could remedy.

“Cohort studies have demonstrated that many infected persons decrease behaviors that help transmit infection to sex or needle-sharing partners once they are aware of their positive HIV status”2.  With this in mind, our organization recognizes that there is a great opportunity to reduce the high levels of new HIV infections each year, by increasing the likelihood of individuals being tested.  Because there is such a negative stigma attached to being tested for STD’s, our project is tailored towards reducing stigmas, increasing opportunities to be tested, and foster a sense of unity amongst the people of this nation in overcoming this issue.

This project is not only vitally important to the lives of thousands of people within the United States, but it is also a topic that our organization understands.  We are qualified to handle this project because we are aware of the many facets of the problems needing to be addressed.  The age range most in need of our intervention is 21-39, in which age each of our project leaders fall into.  Because we are a part of the same generation, we are able to more fully understand the perspectives, needs, and wants of those we are targeting.  This unique insight will help in every level of our program, and especially in marketing and advertising which is where the majority of our time will need to be spent since we are setting about to change a social stigma.

In addition to the ability of our organization members’ ability to relate with our target audience, we are also qualified by our through research.  The need for this program is great, and the backing and encouragement of the United States Government is behind us in addressing our selected issue.  The CDC called on the government, “to promote programs and policies that work to reduce complacency and stigma as well as encourage increased testing”1.  Our organization is answering this call.

1. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/testing/index.htm

2. Rietmeijer CA , Kane MS, Simons PZ, et al. Increasing the use of bleach and condoms among injecting drug users in Denver: outcomes of a targeted, community-level HIV prevention program. AIDS 1996;10:291–8.

Evaluation Plan

The first question asked in establishing the evaluation plan is “what do we want to accomplish?”   Because our program has various objectives, breaking down the evaluation plan into different sections will be necessary in order to keep things manageable.

First Year

In the first year of our program, the majority of our efforts will go towards lobbying to the senate and house representatives.  This campaigning effort will be focused on the new HIV testing policy in which all work sites will be required to include a confidential HIV test along with the businesses other hiring policies.  The evaluation of this will be fairly straight forward, given that the outcome will be obvious when the law is, or is not, passed.   During this year, as part of our effort to make the new testing procedure law, we plan to survey our target congressmen to ascertain their preconceived notions, concerns, and ideas.  This will aid our organization in making our lobbying more effective.  Randomized national surveys will be conducted during this first year to help establish primary data to help measure our programs effectiveness.

Second-Fifth Year

Once the new testing policy is made a law, our efforts will turn towards changing the social stigma of HIV testing.  Using secondary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as survey results from the international HIV and AIDS charity (Avert), we will begin our national campaign.

By monitoring the comments on our social media tools, as well as tabulating the results of our annual surveys, we will be able to know whether the social stigmas are increasing, decreasing, or staying relatively level.  Our annual surveys will be randomly distributed within our target audience.  Three different surveys will be conducted annually to help our program be effective:

1. Asking whether our campaign is changing stigma

2. Whether the stigma of HIV testing is actually changing

3. Finding out whether the individual surveyed has been, and is more likely to, get tested.

These three differently targeted surveys are individually necessary because they will help us determine what is going well, and what needs to change, in regard to specific areas of our program.  This surveying and evaluation pattern will continue throughout the entire program, and will ensure that we remain timely and effective in our uses of time and money.

The following is some research I’m working on for a potential community outreach program.  In reviewing some key components of  second generation Hispanic women (target audience), there are a few factors that must be taken into consideration in order to have a clear understanding of them.  Specifically their wants, needs, values and beliefs were analyzed thoroughly by peer evaluation and secondary research.  Through the research of these issues, the project has found important information which has been used to shape the marketing plan.

Although the targeted group is second generation Hispanic women, these mothers are still heavily influenced by tradition.  They want to be the matriarch of their household and not fail to be a good wife, mother, and feminine influence.  Because of the demands of maintaining the traditional role of being a mother, these women are not willing to sacrifice their responsibilities in order maintain their physical health as much as they should.  Though the audience wants to be healthy and look good, they desire even more to have excellent meals, a clean home, and time together as a family.

Because of the high demands on time which the family plays in their lives, a typical women in our target group needs a way to ensure her kids are taken care of if she is to take any time to do activities for herself.  Not only do her children need to be engaged in fun/constructive recreation, but the mother also needs the right type of motivation to do anything that’s all about her.  Research indicates that social interaction is a huge drawing force for women in our audience, because they thoroughly enjoy talking with other women and friends.  If the social need is met, many women have been shown to make more of an effort to attend a group program/activity, such as the one which we are presenting.

As mentioned earlier, the core values of the Hispanic women that I have targeted lies within the family organization.  According to some research, the family can either help support the matriarchs adjusting to a healthier lifestyle, or play the biggest role in discouraging the mothers from making health related changes that would affect everyone in the family.  With this in mind, our target audience needs a way to balance her values of the importance of family consensus, while at the same time making sure she is taking care of her own health needs.

Lastly, addressing the beliefs of the women is another key factor in whether our program will succeed or not.  Many of the previously mentioned indicators play into beliefs, though there are a few additional areas of concern from our audience in regard to their beliefs.  Many of these women do not understand and realize that the foods they eat, and lack of daily exercise they achieve, will negatively affect their diabetes.  Many of them believe that diabetes complications are a result of weight problem alone and not a result of poor lifestyle in general.  This leads many to continue unhealthy cooking practices even after being diagnosed with diabetes.  Our audience also sees the development of diabetes as something that will not affect them until they are old and their children are raised.  This idea is partly a result of them not seeing within their own parents and grandparents any negative effects of diabetes until late in life.  This leads into another belief, which is that they do not see a negative difference between their lifestyle and the way in which they were raised.

Education in Zion

Tonight I came across the following journal entry from my first week at BYU.  Reflecting on my changed perspective has been fun, and enlightening.  I’d encourage others to look back on their past as well, it is very therapeutic .  Enjoy (it’s a bit touchy feely and over dramatic, so be warned).

As I was walking across campus last week headed towards the Joseph F. Smith Building to observe the “Education in Zion” exhibit, I found myself being skeptical as to the worth of such an exhibit for students.  Upon entering the building, ascending the beautifully aesthetic stairs, and entering into the exhibit itself, I was immediately impressed by the general appearance of the display.  Across the walls quotes were written, all of which relating to education in one way or another.  Along with the subtly displayed quotes, the main exhibits were clear and provocative, leaving an impression of hope and optimism in the education process that existed in the past, and is thriving now.

Another visually impressive aspect of the exhibit is the way in which everything is lit.  Because of the JFSB’s excellent design, much of the display area is lit by natural lighting, which not only is very pleasant to the eye, but which also provides an open view of what BYU has become since the early days of education in Zion.  Reading about all of the original pioneers who helped establish the “Academy” originally, and the trials they passed through as the school continued to mature, can only humble the viewer of the exhibit.  All of the previously mentioned impressions were what first went through my mind in the first ten minutes upon arriving.
One of the more surprising new pieces of knowledge that I gained from the exhibit was the instrumental role Benjamin Cluff played in the development of the Church’s educational grounding.  I had no idea that the school started as a stake academy, and through a lot of effort, was adopted by the Church to become a university.  Knowledge like this is what I find so fascinating, because I too often get caught up in the moment, and forget how much background work must go into many of the things I enjoy in life.

A specific instance of hardship that I had not considered the original founders would have encountered was the opposition to teaching religious values/principles alongside the factual world of the sciences and history.  Many individuals claimed that faith and intellect could not function in harmony together, and that educating students on both levels would result in a lack of harmonious learning.  In response to this, Benjamin Cluff made a profound statement that defied the wisdom of men.  According to the promises made by the Lord in seeking after wisdom and knowledge from various areas, Cluff said affirmed that he, “…believed in the ultimate harmony of all truth”; therefore the Church owned school could both enlighten students in the temporal and divine knowledge that was available.   Fast forward to the present, and we can see how true Cluff’s belief in the harmony of truth is.

As I was growing up, I always felt the desire to be a part of the school whose football team we always cheered for.  Every Summer when we visited my Grandma in Provo, I wanted so badly to move there and go to the school with the cool bell tower.  In high school I began recognizing a desire to go to BYU because of its excellent standing in the world of academia.  All of these influences together motivated the long road to get here.  Family pressure/influence was surprising minimal now that I reflect on my childhood.  My Dad graduated here both for undergrad and MBA, and my mother was going to attend Law School at BYU, yet neither of them ever really encouraged the idea, but were completely supportive and excited when I chose to come to this school.  The idea of attending BYU is still an exciting thought to me because I feel like I’m a part of something bigger than me.

The overall impression I had during the exhibit was that of gratitude.  There has been so much done in the past to make what I now enjoy a reality, which leads me to wonder whether my efforts thus far in school have reflected thanks for the pioneers that sacrificed so much for me.   With that in mind, this exhibit truly has influenced me to not just coast through some of my easier classes, but to apply myself to every class I have.  This will ideally result in me attaining the greatest and most varied amount of knowledge possible from this institution.