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Graduating Communications student Hannah Larsen reflects on her time at BYU

Hannah Larsen, a 2020 Communications graduate. (Courtesy of Hannah Larsen)

The first couple weeks into my freshman year, I was intimidated by how great everyone seemed. How was I going to fit in when those around me seemed to excel at everything they did?

After watching one of my first BYU devotionals, I felt God tell me that instead of being intimidated by the people around me, I should seek to learn from and love them. My whole perspective changed. I made a goal to meet three new people a day. As I started befriending those around me, I realized how incredible everyone was. I felt the love Heavenly Father has for His children. I felt my love for others grow. I gained a stronger testimony for our worth as children of God.

Many times people were surprised when I started talking to them. I realized as college students we have a tendency to focus on ourselves and forget about the people around us. I felt like we could all do a little better at reaching out to the people we see everyday, myself included. One day, I sat next to someone new at the library. He came home from his mission in Guatemala and had a hard time adjusting because of the lack of friendliness on campus. Coming from a country where everyone talks to everyone, he struggled with people not acknowledging each other’s existence. We emailed President Worthen our concerns and asked if there was anything we could do to spread the message. To our surprise, he emailed us back the next day, thanking us for our efforts and ensuring he would keep our message in mind. A couple months later, he gave a talk at the January 2017 devotional titled, “It Is Not Good that Man Should Be Alone.” His message was all about our relationships and how important it is to befriend those around us on campus, at home, at church, etc. I was thrilled!

Flash forward to October 2018. I’d been home from my mission for a year. I was a junior and started thinking how I could fulfill

Larsen interviewing a BYU student for @humansofbyu. (Courtesy of Hannah Larsen)

my life dream of creating something similar to the social media phenomenon @humansofny. People and writing have always been my passions. I wanted to showcase an accurate view of who the people at BYU were. I wanted to help people understand what happens when we take time to learn from others. I believe love is the answer to the world’s problems. Often, when we learn more about others, we love them. 

In May 2019, I started running @humansofbyu. I’ve interviewed 80+ students so far, most who I hadn’t met before the interview. The experience has changed my life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people at BYU and run the account. Their stories are helping people come closer to Christ. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that!

In December, I was invited to do a BYU takeover on the official BYU Instagram page to talk about @humansofbyu. The day I took over was the best day of my BYU career. I had over 20,000 people watching as I shared my testimony of God’s love for us and how He uses us to reach out to others. As I was testifying, my mind flashed back to my friend at the library who served in Guatemala. I remembered how concerned we were about the lack of friendliness and my desire to share how my goal was giving me joy. At that moment, I realized God had answered my prayers. Here I was, getting to do exactly what I wanted to do as a sophomore, sharing my experience about loving others with thousands of people in the BYU community.

I know God is there. He hears our spoken and unspoken prayers. I know if we ask Him for help, He will lead us exactly where we need to be. He will give us the people and resources we need to achieve our potential, follow our dreams and obtain joy. I am so grateful for Him giving me BYU. 

The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at cfac.byu.edu.

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