On May 1, C. Shane Reese began his tenure as the 14th president of Brigham Young University. Today, he and his wife, Wendy Reese, will deliver their first devotional together and the first devotional of the 2023–24 school year.
In this special edition Cougar Query, University Communications’ Aaron Sorenson met with the Reeses to give insight into the two people who will be speaking to the entire BYU campus community today.
PRESIDENT C. SHANE REESE
I’m currently reading…Elder Holland’s newest book, “Our Day Star Rising,” in conjunction with the New Testament.
Besides my wife, the most influential person in my life is… my mom — she has always been my biggest supporter and champion. She provided for me in incredible ways as a single mother. I had amazing religious leaders. Kevin Worthen has had a huge impact on me. As did his brother, Clyde, who was my bishop growing up.
My favorite TV show growing up was… probably some kind of sports. We watched TV on a 13-inch black and white, all while eating meals on TV trays. I’ve probably seen most of the sitcoms that people would watch, but for me it’s probably still sports. It didn’t matter whether it was baseball, basketball, football or whatever.
When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. We’re not lavish vacation people. We like being together. We give each other a hard time, we like to joke around. Now that my wife and I are empty nesters, the time we spend together is all that much more precious. If I have 30 minutes to myself, you would probably find me engaged in some sort of physical activity, whether that be working out, playing basketball or playing tennis. Obviously when we can do all those things together as a family, that’s the best of both worlds — pickleball is our go-to family physical activity.
My go-to comfort foods are… pepperoni pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. And I don’t mean peanut butter and jelly. I’m a peanut butter person. Straight up peanut butter. A little bit of bread, a lot of peanut butter. Because I’m usually pressed for time, it’s one piece of bread, peanut butter slathered on half, folded in half because I can usually eat it in one hand and work with the other.
Creamy or crunchy? Do you have to ask? It’s creamy – and Jif!
My dream car is... when I was probably a sophomore in high school, I fell in love with the Porsche 911 Turbo. But I have also grown very attached to and currently own a pickup truck. Part of that probably has to do with being short, and the pickup makes up for my short stature. That may be part of the calculus of the pickup purchase decision.
My favorite quote is… “[I] firmly believe that it is the destiny of Brigham Young University to become what those prophetic statements predicted it would become. But inherent in being the University of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the reality that this great goal will not be attained in exactly the same way that other universities have achieved their greatness. With your help, it will become the great university of the Lord — not in the world’s way but in the Lord’s way.” President Dallin H. Oaks gave that in a 2017 address at BYU. That quote gives me energy, and enthusiasm, and passion for everything we are trying to accomplish at BYU. It sends chills down my spine.
I’ve hiked Y Mountain 17 times.
Sports sparked my interest in my field of statistics. Sports drove my interest in statistics, and statistics drove my interest in sports. I’m a sports nut. Even from a pretty young age I remember listening to ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson calling college football games. These guys would always talk about things and talk about the way the game was playing out. Then and now, I listen to those things critically, thinking, “How can I prove or disprove that?” kind of thing. Even when I was in high school, when I would watch football games or basketball games or whatever it was, I would always say, “Man, I think I can prove them wrong!” That is what first fascinated me about statistics.
My most cherished memory at BYU is… when I was in summer classes as a student in 1992. That day, I was washing windows at my sink and looked across the courtyard and saw (and I didn’t know who it was) my wife walking across the courtyard. That day is etched in my mind. Clearly, the decision to pursue and marry her was the best decision I have made in my life.
My advice to freshmen is… to hang in there. It wasn’t easy for me when I got to campus as a young freshman. It was a strange place for me. I wasn’t used to the environment. It felt huge, it felt intimidating. The second thing I would just say is to invest yourself. One of the things about the story of my freshman year — that doesn’t get emphasized and that I wish would — is implicit in that story is that I had to make the effort. I had to go to Kevin Worthen’s office and have a meeting with him. I could have just decided that it was intimidating and scary and not fun and given up. I could have not gone to his office when someone suggested to do so. I could have not started going to ward activities and BYUSA activities. Choosing to do something about my hard situation has made all the difference.
My favorite person from the scriptures is… there are so many characters in the scriptures that I think, “I want to be like Captain Moroni or I want to be like...,” but recently, I’ve been reading what Ammoron said about Mormon. At the beginning he said that “he’s quick to observe ... I perceive that thou art a sober child.” That can mean “observant,” and that can mean “quick to obey the word of God,” and I think that I most admire the latter, quick to obey the word of God. I look up to Mormon because he was, at 10 years old, quick to observe.
SISTER WENDY REESE
When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… cooking. I love baking, so I would probably make something I’ve never made before. I’ve made wedding cakes and have sold them in years past. It’s been a lot of fun for me. I also like to make cupcakes and cookies; if I’m baking, it’s usually something sweet. I also like to read a good book.
My favorite genre of books to read is… mystery books, for sure.
My favorite part about BYU is… interacting with the students. Also, we’ve always had season tickets to BYU sporting events. As a kid, I would come to campus with my parents, and we would go to BYU football games.
My favorite person from the scriptures is… Ruth. Just her kindness and generosity and befriending Naomi. I just love how she was so loving towards her family.
The most influential person in my life is… probably my mom. She’s always super positive and upbeat.
My most cherished memory at BYU is… as a freshman at BYU, when I lived in Heritage Halls, my roommate used to work at a place called Frontier Pies, so she’d bring home free pies, and we’d eat it late at night, almost every night. We were always eating. We were working on our freshman 15.
My proudest accomplishment is… being a mom to my three kids. They have brought so much joy into my life. They make me laugh, they make me cry, and yes, they sometimes make me crazy. My kids are so much fun to be with. We love doing stuff together.
My favorite thing to do with my kids is… going out to eat. We like to find out-of-the-way restaurants. Sometimes we go to the movies. When our kids were younger, we would take them bowling at BYU, and they loved that.
My personal superpower is… people who know me would probably say cooking. I started making candy when I was eight years old. My grandmas taught me how to cook. When I was young, my mom would let me make dinner all the time, and she would do the dishes.
My favorite memory of my childhood is… water skiing. I grew up in a small farming community in rural Utah and water skiing was something we did all summer long. In fact, Shane said that’s how he got admitted to the family — he had to learn how to slalom ski in order to be accepted by our family. ☺
Three things that are always found in my refrigerator are… butter, eggs and fruit. I especially love pineapple and mangoes.
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to… Thailand. We were supposed to go there several years ago, and then Shane hurt his knee playing basketball and was on a knee scooter, so we didn’t end up going.
If I could let students know something about me, it would be… for them to know that my family is important to me. I would also want them to feel like I’m approachable, like they can come talk to me. I just love being around them.
On Saturday mornings, you can find me… exercising. I exercise every day, except Sunday. After that, I’d probably be weeding the garden or cleaning the house.
My favorite genre of music is… country. Easy. Hands down, country. I don’t even listen to anything else. I’m a country girl. I love listening to live music. There’s nothing like eating in a restaurant or sitting in the park and listening to some really good live country music.