At BYU's Commencement exercises this week, Thomas Stone will represent the graduates as the student speaker. Like his fellow classmates, Stone, who is earning a bachelor's degree in economics with minors in mathematics and political science, has accomplished a lot during his time at BYU.
Looking for opportunities to give back and help others during his time at BYU, Stone co-founded Aspiring Leaders Pursuing Higher Achievement (ALPHA). He also served as a Micro Business mentor and vice president of the Management Consulting and Business Strategy clubs. As an Honors student, his thesis, “The Variance in the Effect of Smoking on College vs. Non-College Graduates,” explored the varying effect of heavy smoking upon those who have at least a college-level associate’s degree and those who do not. Stone also competed as a member of Team USA at the 2016 Age Group World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.
University Communications' Natalie Ipson recently met with Stone to discuss his BYU experience and what advice he'd give other students.
Natalie Ipson: You co-founded an education nonprofit as a student; can you tell us more about ALPHA?
Thomas Stone: When I returned from my mission in Mexico, I was motivated to find opportunities to give back. In addition to my work with a nonprofit called Micro Business Mentors, I started looking for ways to mentor high school students through the college enrollment process, but I didn’t find anything. One day, I went to the Blue Line Deli in the Tanner Building with my friend, other co-founder, Erika Mahterian, and asked if it was crazy to consider starting this nonprofit. We sat down with local high school counselors who explained they had so many students falling through the cracks and that there was a need for mentors to help students meet graduation requirements and complete college applications. There’s been a lot of interest from other students on campus and word has spread like wildfire. It’s been the highlight of my BYU experience.
NI: Between your major, two minors and a health-related thesis you seem to have a variety of interests. What are you hoping to do with your BYU education?
TS: I haven’t had a master plan from day one. I finished the math minor early on because I thought I was going to be a math major, but after my mission it had been three years since I had multivariate calculus and so economics was a better fit. When I went to the BYU Jerusalem Center, I fell in love with the political situations there and wanted to add that component to my education.
I’m heading to L.E.K. Consulting in Los Angeles after graduation to work on business strategy cases across a range of industries. I interned with L.E.K. last summer where I worked on pricing strategy for a major film distributor.
NI: You also competed at the World Triathlon Championships. How do you find the time to balance everything?
TS: Prioritizing is the key. You have to give up some opportunities to pursue others. Endurance athletics give my life balance, but I also really wanted to make service a priority my final year of school and that evolved into ALPHA.
I’ve tried to surround myself with people who excel at different things than I do and friends who are positive influences. In the initial phases of ALPHA, I was surrounded by a spectacular group of friends who were passionate about making a difference. That sense of connection to others and being able to empathize with those around me really motivates me.
NI: Looking back on your BYU experience, what advice would you give to students still pursuing their degree?
TS: If I could go back, I’d be more confident in my ability to do good and have an impact. I wouldn’t be shy to ask questions. Some of the best advice I received came after I humbled myself and asked people who were very bright and ambitious how they had found success. I also wish I would have taken some time to stop and smell the roses because time flies. I can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly.