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Genuine Gold

Influencing the World For Good One Scout at a Time

Saborn Va sitting in the middle of two young male refugee scouts. All three in scouting uniform in front of a statue in New York City.

Meet Saborn Va, an alumnus of Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

During his studies here, Va noticed how comfortable he felt working amongst the diverse students in his classes. He used that strength to focus his studies on international business management. He's since worked with global businesses in countries like Asia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

During that time, Va caught on to the initial growth and climb of social media platforms. His expertise and knack for this showed when he donated a Joseph Smith social account with over 300,000 followers to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He must have caught their attention because they recruited him to help manage and grow their social media presence soon after that. He continued to do this for church media and other companies. He now works as the senior digital marketing strategist at Zions Bank Corporation.

Memories From BYU–Hawaii

Va remembers an account he had cleaning the Lorenzo Snow Administration Building as a student janitor. One night when passing the glass case, he read David O. McKay's quote, "From this school,...will go men and women whose influence will be felt for the good towards the establishment of peace internationally". The next moments were sacred, moments that have shaped the way he lives and serves people today.

Va lives each day asking himself, "How am I making an impact for good? What influence can I have in the lives of those around me?" We hope his christlike example can influence Seasiders today.

Making An Impact

About five years ago, while serving as the elders quorum president, Va remembers a meeting when a stake leader came to his ward to get involved with the refugee relief in Utah. Being a Cambodian refugee himself, he remembers that plea as a personal invitation to do some good and give back to the Lord.

Getting so heavily involved, Va quickly made a few life changes to accommodate his new lifestyle. For example, he upgraded his small commuter car to a larger SUV to shuttle youth around the Salt Lake Valley. Choosing to serve in this capacity was an easy decision for Va because he witnessed the significant impact the scouting program had on the lives of these youth.

Group of young refugee female scouts with five counselors, all wearing life vests and standing in front of the lake at Camp Loll.

Va comments that most of these children have little to nothing and that scouting gives them something to do, learn, and ways to grow. Witnessing young men build their skills and confidence has been the most rewarding part of his volunteer work. Many of his first scouts are now serving missions, attending college with scholarships, or working in the world and contributing to society.

However, after doing this for a few years, Va realized there was still room for improvement in the programs. "There needed to be a culture shift," stated Va, so he decided to visit with parents and families to explain the benefits of scouting are not only for their sons but daughters too. This focus helped shift an existing paradigm, and the outcome is better than one could hope. The program now has young refugee girls learning essential life skills like CPR and emergency preparedness. They even get to experience similar outdoor adventures like camping, rock climbing, and fishing.

Tips for Students 

Va would caution current students with this advice, don't stress too much right now. Avoid stressing out about grades. In the world, they only ask, what can you do and what do you know? Focus on learning and getting a good education rather than focusing on the letter grade.

He also tells his scouts that working hard compensates for a lot. "If you're not the most intelligent person in the room, that's okay. If you're not the fastest on the team, that's okay. Just work hard. That work ethic is what's going to get you places." He also counsels scouts that whatever God they believe in, keep his commandments. The same goes for BYU–Hawaii students; you will prosper in this land when you keep God in your life and work hard.