From Moment to Masterpiece

PROVO, Utah – May 28, 2019 – Pointillism, or art created by many small dots that create a cohesive picture, can give insightful perspective on a student’s journey. Both are composed of many occurrences that are inconsequential on their own but create a larger, more impactful experience when seen as a whole. BYU Marriott’s experience design and management (ExDM) students received that piece of wisdom along with much more at the department’s first-ever Senior Peak Experience.

Two of BYU Marriott’s ExDM graduates from April 2019—Rachel Glazier of Lake Forest, California, and Emily Sorensen of Folsom, California—were the masterminds behind the event. “We wanted to create an opportunity for seniors to recognize and feel proud of their accomplishments in the program, instead of running straight to graduation without taking a moment to appreciate what they had just done,” says Glazier.

Preparations for the event began in November 2018, when Glazier and Sorensen organized a “dream team” of twelve juniors and seniors. Meeting weekly, the students ideated what they wanted the seniors to get out of the experience, then transferred their ideas into specific goals and plans. ExDM event management advisory board member and adjunct faculty member John Connors assisted them. “Creating the event from scratch was a challenge,” says Glazier. “We knew we wanted to put a bookend on the seniors’ BYU Marriott experience, but the creation took serious effort, creativity, and dedication from our whole team.”

The Senior Peak Experience was held near the end of the Winter 2019 semester at the home of ExDM professor Brian Hill. Eighty-four seniors gathered for lunch, rock-wall activities, and repelling in Dry Canyon near Lindon, Utah. “The afternoon portion symbolized the first half of BYU’s motto, ‘Enter to learn,’” Glazier says. “So we had all things BYU—J Dawgs, mint brownies, and chocolate milk. We even invited professors.” The celebration was meant to represent the BYU experience.

The culminating event was a hike up the mountain behind Hill’s home in Lindon. At each switchback, signs were posted. Significant achievements in the students’ lives were written on each sign—achievements such as being accepted to BYU, making it into the ExDM program, or simply passing an economics class. The seniors reached the summit to find a huge Y, resembling the famous Y on the mountainside visible from BYU campus. The celebration didn’t end there either.

After the hike, the planning team revealed part two of the event—a night at the BYU Museum of Art (MOA). Glazier, Sorsensen, and other event planners wanted this to represent the second half of the BYU motto, “Go forth to serve.” Mark Magleby, director of the MOA, gave the students a personal tour of the Windswept exhibit, which features massive installations of mountainscapes made of willow branches. Dessert, art activities, and a flash mob performed by the professors followed. The night ended with speeches from ExDM professors Mat Duerden and Ramon Zabriskie.

The theme of the speeches was pointillism. The professors explained how the painted dots symbolize the many classes, group projects, interactions with colleagues and professors, and moments that culminate one’s BYU experience. Those dots make up each graduate’s BYU masterpiece, but the “painting” isn’t finished there, Zabriskie said. “Every person still has more to add to their life masterpiece.”

The evening ended with each student receiving a personal letter from one of their professors. “To finish back at home, back at BYU, was such a cool experience,” Glazier reflects.

The Senior Peak Experience will almost certainly be replicated for years to come. “We’ve set the precedent and have started a tradition that will hopefully continue to impact seniors,” Glazier says. “Planning this event for my peers was one of the most meaningful experiences I've had, because my friends and professors are the ones who made my time here at BYU Marriott great. I’m glad to give back in this small way.”

ExDM students repelling
ExDM students repelling near Lindon, Utah. Photo courtesy of Rachel Glazier.
ExDM students celebrating at the Senior Peak Experience
ExDM students celebrating at the Senior Peak Experience. Photo courtesy of Allyse Meanea.
ExDM students and professors at the Senior Peak Experience banquet
ExDM students and professors at the Senior Peak Experience banquet. Photo courtesy of Rachel Glazier.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Erika Magaoay