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Awards and Achievements

The Paradigm Shifters

For BYU Homecoming each year, descendants of George H. Brimhall sponsor an essay contest honoring a BYU founder. The 2021 honored founder was longtime BYU Program Bureau director Janie Thompson. Below is an excerpt from the winning essay, by design major Shannon G. Spencer (’23).

Shannon G. Spencer. Photo Credit: Brad Slade

I fingered the sheet that lay facedown atop my third-grade desk. My hands were shaking.

“Ready? Begin.”

Papers flipped, and the room filled with the scratching of yellow pencils; we had one minute to fill a page of multiplication tables. I stared at my first problem: 8 times 4. It took me six precious seconds to remember the answer.

I barely managed to get halfway through the page before hearing the dreaded “Pencils down!”

As we passed our papers to the front, I couldn’t help but notice my classmates’ worksheets—all completely filled. I dropped my pencil and sunk back in my chair, defeated. Once again, I had proven to my teacher and to the world that I couldn’t do math. I wanted to cry.

To read the full essay, visit magazine.byu.edu.

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