Growing up, Eli Clark, a senior from Middleton, Idaho, was homeschooled, meaning this Saturday will be Eli's first time wearing a robe and walking for graduation. Eli served a full-time mission in Des Moines, Iowa, where he met and served people from Western Africa. He quickly fell in love with learning and experiencing other cultures. This exposure led him to study here at BYU–Hawaii. His passion for international people, combined with an interest in business and entrepreneurship, has enabled him to one day work overseas.
His significant takeaways from attending BYU–Hawaii would be to get to know the people around you, stating, "when you can network meaningfully, you create opportunities to help or be helped by other people." Secondly, accent your education with as much hands-on learning as you can, "if that affects your grades, don't worry." Furthering his point by stating, "ultimately, you come to a university to learn, and grades aren't the only way to reflect that learning." Eli is an excellent example of this principle. While attending BYU–Hawaii, he participated in several internships, started a business in Cambodia, and worked alongside companies in the Philippines. Even though this caused school work to be a little harder, it made his educational experience so much more wholesome. Lastly, Eli advises students to get out of their "cultural bubble." It's okay if you don't speak another person's language or understand their culture; that's why you're here, to learn.
Eli also worked as a project manager at the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship. During that time, he had been empowered by a handful of professors and mentors, first mentioning Paul Wilson, who trusted him as a student employee to run campus events like the Great Ideas and Empower Your Dreams competitions. That trust allowed him to learn and grow exponentially. Another instructor is PJ Rogers, who helped him understand what matters long-term, "he's someone who cares about molding you as a person beyond just your grades." Lastly, a shoutout to Jason Earl and thanks to many other professors.
What's next for Eli? Just next week, he gets married to his fiancé, Trisha Panzo. Then envisions himself spending about two years stateside to gain more work experience before moving to somewhere in Asia. He loves the cultural diversity within these countries and projects a lot of future economic growth that he wants to be a part of.
Congratulations Eli; we look forward to seeing what the future has in store for you and Trisha.