"BEST FRIENDS," MOTHER AND DAUGHTER GRADUATE FROM LDS BUSINESS COLLEGE
D. Louise Brown
Two best friends are graduating from LDS Business College, two best friends who happen to be mother and daughter.
Laurel and Brooklyn Olsen entered the College two and one-half years ago, having moved just two days before from Calgary, Canada to Cottonwood, Utah. They knew no one at the College but each other. In the end, their relationship became their primary source of strength as they cheered each other on through successful college experiences.
Brooklyn, 20 years old, will graduate with a General Studies Associates Degree and an Accounting Certificate. Laurel, a single mom of six children, has earned a degree in Interior Design. Brooklyn plans to earn a degree in public relations at the University of Utah, while Laurel has already garnered a position at a local design firm.
Both women have found their careers through unique experiences at the college.
Involvement in student government opened the way for Brooklyn. "I have so much love for this school. I wanted to get involved as much as possible," she said. Elected as Vice President of Finances and serving as Chairman for the Charitable Giving Council, she received an assignment to head up a fundraising drive that had been lagging. A private donor had offered to match each dollar the student body raised, 3 to 1, if they raised $12,500.
Brooklyn immersed herself in the drive. She led out in activities, urged a wide circulation of the campaign's theme, "Learn to Live, Start to Give," and pre-empted devotional speakers with heartfelt appeals to her fellow students.
In the end, her dedication paid off as students surpassed the goal by $5,000, bringing in a total of $17,500. The donor match raised the total to $70,000, all for student scholarships.
Brooklyn had found her niche. "Fundraising has been the main focus of my energy here. I've given my heart and enthusiasm to that," she said. She received the Lion's Legacy award due to her fundraising efforts.
Brooklyn also received the "Behind the Scenes" award her first year at the College for serving as head of the decorating committee, and assisting at almost every activity. "I love the College's mission, and how the Church supports this college. It reaffirms my testimony that this institution has a purpose and meets its purpose. That's why I got involved," Brooklyn said.
Even though she was the one who persuaded Laurel to start school with her, Brooklyn admits she was nervous about her mother being on campus. "I wondered what it would be like. But it's strengthened our relationship, and emphasized the good."
They took classes together for the first three semesters, until their programs went in separate directions. They often had lunch together, and saw each other in the hall. "Everybody knows I have a Mom here. All my friends love her as much as me, if not more. Countless people tell me, 'I love your Mom,'" Brooklyn said.
Association with Brooklyn and her friends was a boost to Laurel, who admits that her first few days back at college were terrifying. "I was extremely nervous to come back to school. The first week I was bumping into backpacks all day long. I couldn't imagine trying to fit in. I was quite grateful to have Brooklyn here with me because she was interacting, and it was fun to meet her friends," Laurel said.
Brooklyn provided another type of support when Laurel discovered what she'd gotten herself into, program-wise.
"I figured interior design would be the easiest, least time-consuming program. I found out how wrong I was on the first day. Carla Rogers [ID program director] said, 'If you don't have a passion for interior design, get out today.' I thought maybe I should quit. But I didn't," Laurel said.
It was Brooklyn's support that helped her through. "I stayed because Brooklyn would often say things like, 'Of course you can do it.' It made a big difference," Laurel said.
Laurel learned quickly how difficult the ID program was. She spent many sleepless nights working on projects that consumed her. "With mom responsibilities you have to drop school work and take care of family needs, then catch up at night," Laurel said.
In the end, her hard work paid off as Laurel saw her senior portfolio receive the Best of Show, first prize, in the recent Rocky Mountain state portfolio review.
Both women are grateful for their experiences at LDSBC. "Our family has been very blessed. We moved here from Canada into a house we'd never seen, into a ward where we didn't know anyone. We started school two days later. It was a huge transition. The Lord was mindful of us. We were blessed considerably; we've been very supported and helped," said Laurel.
And both women are convinced that their feet were planted on their respective careers due to their experiences at LDSBC. "I know the Lord has had a hand in this. There's no way I would have ever found out that I have this passion, this talent, without being at LDSBC, without being in a leadership position, and without being asked to chair that committee. I have found strength here, and it's changed my life. Countless times here I've been off in some out of the way place, expressing my love to my Heavenly Father for this College," Brooklyn said.
"Like Brooklyn, I believe I was supposed to be here. I looked up to Carla Rogers, and she helped me feel that I could do this. I had a determination inside; how hard it was is secondary to that," Laurel said.
"We both just dug in, gave it our all, and found it very rewarding," Laurel said.
Future plans for Brooklyn involve working for the Church's LDS Foundation or a similar non-profit organization. She moves on to the U of U with a 4.0 gpa.
Laurel interned as a service missionary for the Church's Temple department under the direction of Bruce Finlinson, Senior Interior Designer as part of her program studies. She will be working as an employee now in Finlinson's private practice.
Both women have learned a great deal from their college experience, and not all of it was academic. "I would have never known what kind of woman she is. It's been really nice to rub shoulders with her at a time in life when I think normally I wouldn't have. Our relationship really started when we came here. We're best friends now," Brooklyn said.
"It's been a blessing for both of us to be here together. We had to rely on each other. It's been unique," Laurel said.
April 30, 2003