While the pandemic delayed their first annual dinner, it did not stop it. On Wednesday, March 17, BYU Engineering Together gathered for an evening of excellent meals and discussions, finishing with an impactful presentation.
Each year the BYU Engineering (BE) Together organization, manged by the Weidman Center, gathers students, mentors, and department heads for an annual dinner. Previously known as the Women in Engineering group, BE Together changed its name and focus in 2021 to include all underrepresented students, showing that the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering wants to support every student. It encourages any who want to join to come and participate in their activities. Due to the pandemic circumstances, however, the group had not been able to host their annual dinner event since the remodeling of their organization—until this year.
Any engineering student had the opportunity RSVP and attend the event for free. "Our goal with the Annual Dinner Celebration was to let our students know they are valued and belong in the College of Engineering," said BE Together Coordinator Lisa Knowlton. Each student in attendance had the opportunity to interact with mentors or department heads, eat a meal provided by BYU Catering, and listen to speaker Steve Smith, Student Development Services (SDS) director and clinical professor for BYU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Smith spoke about the need for self-compassion, recognizing the performance-pressure that students often feel.
“Now, my dear friends, please understand that I know you’re going to be upset from time to time,” Smith said, “but you can be upset and still be compassionate… May I invite you to treat yourself with the same kind of compassion with which you would treat others. I can promise you that if you’re able to do that, your life will feel better.”
After he finished speaking, Smith answered questions from students, expanding on the concepts he mentioned in his presentation. Electrical Engineering senior Kayla Lyman has been a member of the organization since before it transitioned to BE Together. She attended the annual dinner for her first time. “It was a lot nicer than I was expecting,” Lyman said, describing the dinner as “fancy.” She continued on to say that Smith's speech served as a good reminder for students to treat themselves with kindness.
Students were not the only ones with whom Smith's message resonated. Other mentors and staff had experiences similar to what he described as lack of self compassion. "I used to be really bad about negative self talk. . . the more I could recognize it, the quicker I got at stopping and changing my pattern of talking to myself," Weidman Center Manager Nicole Stewart said. "Pray and ask for the help to recognize it so that you can change it . . . because it makes a huge difference."