Five former BYU-Idaho and Ricks College students shared their life experiences with the next generation of students at the Power to Become Conference (P2B) earlier this month. Their stories inspired students with the possibilities awaiting them as they leave BYU-Idaho as disciples of Jesus Christ.
The conference featured Damond Watkins from Idaho Falls, Idaho; Alisha Stratton from San Antonio, Texas; Joshua Iverson from Boston, Massachusetts; Amy Antonelli from Salt Lake City, Utah; and Tommy Ahlquist from Eagle, Idaho.
Damond Watkins kicked off the conference by sharing some personal experiences that impacted his life and brought him to where he is today. He talked about a part of his patriarchal blessing that told him his life would be extended and that he would live. At the time, he didn’t know what that meant. But as he had about four seconds of air left to live before a plane crash, he remembered and understood this promise that was made to him when he was younger.
Damond also shared his experience working in the White House. During this time of his life he had three questions: Who am I? Where do I stand today? Where am I going tomorrow? He encouraged everyone to communicate with God daily and trust that everything would fall into place.
“As you go through life—no matter what—you’ll have limitless opportunities if you have a strong desire of who you are, where you come from, and where you’re going,” Watkins stated.
Alisha Stratton, a BYU-Idaho alumnus, centered her speech around the idea that we are all ordinary people, but “extraordinary by design.” Stratton taught that being extraordinary requires you to think, act, and become. She began by explaining that thinking means setting goals to be extraordinary. After setting goals, Stratton emphasized the importance of investing in your relationships and going the extra mile. Finally, she explained how extraordinary people are humble and dare to be different.
“There is no one formula that I could provide for you saying that this is what will make you different. But when we choose to understand what our ‘different’ is…that is what makes you the best leader that you can possibly be,” Stratton remarked.
Next, Joshua Iverson shared the importance of being at the right place at the right time. He shared his experience when he and his wife moved to Boston, Massachusetts the day before terrorists flew commercial airplanes into the twin towers.
He shared another experience from when he was living in Boston and his life was protected. Iverson decided to participate in the Boston marathon in 2013. During his race he stopped about a mile before the finish line to take a picture with his family. This one decision may have saved his life because shortly after, two bombs were set off near the finish line where hundreds of people were injured and a few even killed. Through these traumatic events, he shared that we can be certain about uncertainty. He encouraged students to view failure as progress.
“We don’t really see failure as progress.... It is a struggle to say there’s failure, but there’s growth, progress, learning, and it’s going to happen again and again...” Iverson commented.
Amy Antonelli, a returning P2B speaker, spoke on three main points: listening, law, and love. She shared personal experiences about her life and taught that we need to make connecting with God a priority in our lives. She warned students that Satan will try to take away the law to cause us to lose our potential. Finally, she highlighted how we should all love others with everything we have.
“If you can understand how to love people... you will have unlimited power,” Antonelli said.
Tommy Ahlquist concluded the conference by sharing how working hard will lead you to becoming what you want to become. He explained that working hard also includes serving in the community and spreading the gospel. He concluded his talk by testifying that good things will come into our lives if we put God first.
“Dream big and trust that He will help you in your dreams,” Alquist shared.
Brigham Young University’s male a capella group, Vocal Point, performed at the conclusion of the conference and had the crowd on their feet with their high-energy performance.
Overall, the sold-out event left students feeling inspired and motivated to work towards success in their future careers.
Logan Browning, a student studying virtual design and construction said, “I really feel like P2B is an amazing opportunity for students to see how, as Elder Eyring stated, they can become legendary, just like the speakers were this year and in the years before. It gives us hope knowing that the work we put in today will pay off down the road more than we can imagine!”