November 28, 2016
Writer: John Humphrey
While studying history at BYU-Idaho, John Humphrey never considered he would end up as a lawyer in Shanghai. He chose his major for two reasons: his father’s influence and the passion of his professors. He particularly enjoyed his classes with Dr. David Peck. He commented how “[Dr. Peck] was one of the few professors who had a PhD. His PhD was interesting because it had a language component. Where he learned some Arabic and some Middle Eastern culture and languages. He brought that into the class. So, you learned history within the context of culture and language. History is much more powerful if you understand culture and language.” Dr. Peck’s example taught John to seek out and apply his interests.
As Humphreys reflected back on his time at BYU-Idaho, he mentioned his degree in History had little direct impact on his career. However, the skills he learned while studying history, such as research, writing, group work, and presentation, have played an important role as a business lawyer. His advice to all students “it will all matter much less than you think it does. As much as I busted my butt, I think I ended up with a 3.94 GPA. Nobody asks me what my GPA is today. Nobody ever says, ‘Hey, what was your score on that US history test that you took eight hours taking in the testing center?’ And you just don’t get questions like that.”
Asian history had always fascinated him so he took a few Mandarin courses at BYU-Idaho and BYU, which would prove useful later in life. He completed his associates at Ricks College, which changed to BYU-Idaho while he was there, and then transferred to BYU to finish his Bachelor’s degree. There, he met his wife and together they moved to Chicago where he obtained a law degree.
During his first year of law school, he realized that finding a job would prove difficult so he began his search right away. After seeking recommendations though phone calls and cold contacting he found an internship that later hired him full time. Since then he has been doing finance law. His interest in Asia lead him to volunteer for any opportunity related to it. Slowly he gained some experience and became the go-to-guy in the company on anything related to Asia. When the company decided to open an office in Singapore, the company sent him. Then later when an office in Shanghai he was one of the first to be sent there.
According to Humphreys, what “matters is the skills and what you bring out of your education are these intangibles that kind of absorb into you. That is how I feel education is. You want to be a competent student as opposed to just being a student being caught up in the motion. You want to actually do it right. The thing that truly matters is that you become a lifelong learner.”