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Students and Alumni Take Center Stage in BYU Commercial

'Generation Y' spot to air during national athletic broadcasts this season

A new BYU commercial called 'Generation Y' celebrates its students and alumni. It debuted on ESPN in September and will continue to air during national athletic broadcasts this season. 

From Olympians to musicians to politicians, BYU students and alumni are sharing their talents and making positive headlines worldwide; this commercial pays tribute to these young high achievers. Check it out: 

The song in the commercial "Hall of Fame," performed by Irish band The Script and vocalist, provides a positive anthem for the movers, shakers and dreamers who make up 'Generation Y' and represent BYU on the world stage. Here's more on the accomplishments of each of those featured in the spot. 

Kate Hansen, US Luge Team 2014

A native of Burbank, California, BYU student Kate Hansen is a member of the US Luge Team and competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (finishing 10th). In October 2013, Hansen won the USA Luge National Championship, even while competing with a broken foot.  A member of the US team since 2007, Hansen was a Junior World Champion at age 15. As an Olympian, Kate is known not only for her athleticism and skill but also for her unique warm-up routine: dancing to the music of Beyoncé.

Team USA
Taylor Sander, FIVB

During his BYU career, Taylor Sander was the 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Player of the Year, a first-team All-American (three times), and MPSF Player of the Year twice (2013, 2014). The BYU men’s volleyball team, led by Sanders, won the MPSF tournament in 2013 and 2014 and went on to the NCAA finals in 2013, and semifinals in 2014. After he concluded his BYU career, Sanders became a member of Team USA. In July 2014, he helped Team USA clinch the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) World League gold medal for the second time in history. In the championship match, Sander led Team USA with 24 points in the contest on 22 kills, earning him Best Spiker and tournament MVP honors.

Yeah Samake, Empower Mali

After graduating from BYU with a master’s degree in public policy, social entrepreneur Yeah Samake chose between a comfortable life in the United States, and returning home to Mali. “America did not need me, my country needed me,” he said. Samake, who grew up in extreme poverty in a family of 18 children, returned home to Mali and, in 2009, was elected as mayor of the 44 villages that comprise Ouelessebougu. As mayor and as the founder of U.S.-based NGO Empower Mali, Samake has been working to provide education, healthcare and other necessities to the people of Mali. In 2013, Samake ran for president of Mali. Although he did not win the election, Samake is regarded as a charismatic and thoughtful leader who is bringing ideas and hope to his home country.

Rock Star
Elaine Bradley, Neon Trees

For the past nine years, BYU graduate Elaine Bradley has brought her energy and musical talents to the stage as a composer and drummer with the alternative band Neon Trees. A product of Provo, Utah’s alternative music scene, Neon Trees emerged in 2008 on the world stage, winning a Billboard Music Award in 2011. The band’s third album Pop Psychology was released in 2014.

Student Emmy Winner
Lauren Taylor, College Television Awards 2013

Since it was created in 2003, BYU’s animation program has won 16 student Emmy Awards (officially known as College Television Awards). Animation projects created by BYU students have garnered the attention of Hollywood studios including Pixar and Dreamworks. In 2013, The New York Times highlighted the BYU program with a major feature about the impact that BYU animation students are having on the industry. Lauren Taylor was the producer of Estefan, animation winner in the 2013 College Television Awards, a production that took 40 students more than two years to create. In 2014, the BYU animation program followed up the Estefan win with two more Emmys: best animation for Owned and best music for Chasm

Comedy Stars
Studio C, BYU Television

BYUtv’s original sketch comedy series, Studio C, is grabbing the attention of family audiences across the United States with its laugh-out-loud scripted and improvisational sketches that focus on the sometimes wicked humor inherent in everyday life.

Filmed in front of a live studio audience at BYU Broadcasting’s own Studio C (the soundstage for which the program was named), the half-hour weekly show offers comic perspective on commonplace scenarios—from ethical dilemmas and quirky relatives to roommate quandaries, video gaming, and heartbreak. It’s a laugh at our own fallible humanity and a nod to the fact that we’re not alone in our embarrassing moments. It’s irreverent humor that the whole family can enjoy without parents needing to send the kids from the room or cover their eyes and ears.

Since it launched in October 2012, Studio C’s unique comedic style and content has gained the show a loyal and demographically diverse national fan base. The show has reached over 56 million views on BYUtv's YouTube channel, and fans can get even more from the show via Facebook ( and Instagram (StudioCtv). 

NASA Fellow
Shannon Zirbel, NASA Research Fellowship

She once dreamed of becoming an astronaut and although she currently has no plans for space travel, mechanical engineer Shannon Zirbel has designed a solar array that may one day bring power to the International Space Station. A BYU doctoral candidate who has already authored or co-authored six professional journal articles, Zirbel is the recipient of a prestigious NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (worth up to $198,000) and is working directly with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to design what could be the largest solar panel in space. The array is unique because it is inspired by the mathematics of origami; its ability to fold up and deploy makes it ideal for space applications. Zirbel, a member of BYU’s Compliant Mechanisms Research Group, is getting international attention for her innovative research; in October, she will be a featured speaker at the innovation forum TEDxPeachtree in Atlanta.

Two Sport Star
Jennifer Hamson, basketball and volleyball

When she graduates from BYU next April, Jennifer Hamson will have to choose between careers in two sports she loves: basketball and volleyball. After leading the BYU women’s basketball team to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2014 and being named WCC Player of the Year, Hamson was selected in the WNBA draft by the LA Sparks, despite the fact that she won’t be available to play until the 2015-2016 season. This summer, Hamson was one of 12 players nationally selected to represent the U.S. Collegiate National Basketball Team on an 11-day tour of China.

The 6’7” Hamson will now play her senior volleyball season for BYU (she redshirted in volleyball during the 2013-14 season to focus on basketball). When she played on the 2012-13 volleyball squad, Hamson led her team into the regional semifinals in the NCAA tournament, earned the 2012 West Coast Conference Player of the Year Award and was a member of the AVCA first team. She also received Academic All-WCC honors. Hamson will likely have an option of playing either sport professionally after she finishes her collegiate career.

Lindsey Stirling, composer and performer

A one-of-a-kind artist and composer, Lindsey Stirling has established a loyal fan base for a musical genre that previously didn't exist. Her music combines the romance of Celtic folk music and modern classical with the infectious energy of dance and electronica. A composer, classically trained violinist and artist, Stirling made her national debut as a competitor on America's Got Talent, then surprised the music industry by amassing over 675 million views on YouTube and selling out concert tours worldwide. Stirling's self-titled debut album sold over 350,000 copies and the video for her original song "Crystallize" racked up 97 million YouTube views and reached number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Chart and the Billboard Classical Album Chart. Stirling's new album Shatter Me, debuted at number two on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, her highest charting album to date. A motivational speaker in her spare time, Stirling uses her own story to show teenagers that you've got to have confidence in the very thing that makes you unique – then wait for the world to catch up.

First Round Draft Pick
Ziggy Ansah, Detroit Lions, NFL

When Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah arrived at BYU as a student from Ghana, his dream was to play professional basketball. When things didn’t pan out with basketball and later with track, he met with BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall about playing football. Since Ansah had never played or watched the sport in Ghana, he didn’t know how to put on his gear when he showed up for his first football practice. He kept showing up and working hard, impressing his coaches with his attitude, resilience, intelligence and work ethic. In his senior year, Ansah emerged as a powerful defensive playmaker and began attracting the attention of NFL scouts. In 2013, on the same day he graduated from BYU, with a degree in actuarial science, he was selected by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the NFL Draft as the number five overall pick. In his first pro season with Detroit, Ansah led all NFL rookies with eight sacks and showed promise of being an elite player in the NFL.


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