Where are they Now?

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By Greg Bennett, utahvalleymagazine.com

Ten years ago we featured the first batch of high school students who would change the world. We caught up with eight of them to see what changes they’ve made so far. 

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Brian-Ricksnow

Brian Ricks

HIGH SCHOOL Lone peak     Current City Provo    Family Wife (Jennifer), One son

2011 status PH.D. CANDIDATE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE AT BYU

What has your life been like since high school?

My life felt very predictable until after my mission. When I came home, however, I had a career crisis where I began to doubt that being a full-time programmer would be what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Since that point the only predictable part has been that my work has always centered around technology and computers.

what advice would you give your 18-year-old self? These 10 years have taught me that real happiness comes from loving others. It was easy in high school to focus on getting into college and winning scholarships. I wish I would have focused more on helping my friends and working as a team. My most cherished joys — missionary service, marriage and parenting — have all come as I’ve focused on loving other people.

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BROCK SISSON

HIGH SCHOOL Lehi     Current City OREM   Family Wife (Nancy)

2011 status Owns 2 businesses preparing dinosaur and fossil skeletons for museums

Describe life from 2001-2011

After serving a mission for the LDS Church, I worked at Paleoforms (a company similar to what I do now). I also had the opportunity to work in multiple dinosaur quarries throughout the West. Specimens I’ve worked on have been exhibited in Mexico, Canada, Abu Dhabi, the American Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The best part is I still find time to go fossil hunting throughout Utah and Wyoming in search for trilobites, fossil leaves, ammonites and all manner of prehistoric life.

What are some unexpected happenings? Starting my own business was unexpected. On a humorous note, while fossil hunting in southern Argentina I found a human skeleton, not something I expected to find on any of my digs.

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Chase Carlile

HIGH SCHOOL Provo    Current City Tempe, Ariz.    Family Wife and One son

2011 status Marvin Andrews Fellow at ASU getting a master’s degree in public administration

What are you doing in your life now? I work as a management intern/research assistant for the Alliance for Innovation where I provide analytic support to member governments and research innovative practices for local governments. I look forward to graduating in May 2012 and beginning my career in local government management.

What have you done that was predictable since high school? I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international relations from BYU, interned with Sen. Orrin Hatch and started my master’s degree.

What are some unexpected happenings? I spent two years living in Tennessee and Kentucky, and I am now living in Arizona.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? Don’t be afraid to take risks.

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Cole Hooley

HIGH SCHOOL Pleasant Grove    Current City New York City    Family Married

2011 status Psychotherapist helping impoverished with counseling, crisis prevention

where has life taken you since 2001?

Since high school, life has seemed like one beautiful unexpected happening after another. If you would have told me when I was 18 that I was going to study social work in college, get a chance to work with so many wonderful people in a variety of community-based programs, go to Africa to help families impacted with HIV/AIDS, be a co-author of a scholarly article, present at a national conference, go to one of the top clinical social work graduate programs in the country, move to New York City, meet the love of my life there, and end up doing exactly what I love — helping people — I probably would have had a hard time believing you.

The beauty of my life has been the unexpected. Sure, I’ve had hopes and goals, but life has turned out so much better than I could have ever planned.

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JENNIFER SWENSON CLEAVER

High School Payson    Current City Pueblo, COlo.    Family HUsband, Two children

2011 status Stay-at-home mom with degree in Finance/economics from Utah State University

What does your life entail now? I am focusing on being a mother. I stay at home with my kids and take care of the home. I do some accounting work from home. My hobbies include running and exercise, photography and crafts, and chasing my kids.

What are some unexpected happenings? Since graduating from college, I have lived in Washington and Colorado. I never would have guessed I would move away from Utah. However, with each move, I learned a lot about myself and what I am able to do.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? Look outside the box. Set goals and work hard to achieve them, but don’t be afraid when bigger and different things enter your path. It’s OK to do things that don’t fit perfectly into your plan. Be willing to challenge yourself. Tell yourself, “I can do hard things” (and then actually do them).

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DEREK PETERSON

High school  Timpanogos Current City  LOS ANGELES Family  wife, gena, (baby on the way)

2011 status managing musicians while working at front line music Management

What does your life entail now? I spend most of my time doing day-to-day management of artists like Janet Jackson, Ciara and En Vogue. I also manage up-and-coming artists The Cab, Jason Diaz and Jenn Grinels.

What have you done that was predictable? I got married and have a kid on the way.

What are some unexpected happenings? I found an amazing church in Hollywood to attend and serve at. It’s called Ecclesia. Three years ago, I decided to join a team that serves HIV/AIDS children (orphans) in the slums of Kibera, Kenya. I have been twice now and would be going again this year if I wasn’t having a child of my own.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? Hold on tight, kid. You are about to have an amazing adventure! It only gets better from here. God is with you, and he cares more about your character than your career.

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Alice Bauman Jensen

High School  Mountain View       Current City OREM    Family Married to Jeffrey, three Sons

2011 status  Registered Nurse for Intermountain Health Care

Where has life taken you since 2001?

I’ve known since high school that my main priority would be my future family. Becoming a wife and a mother and succeeding in those two roles was always what meant the most to me.

I also knew I would not be happy without a good education that would assist me in being a good mother to my children and that would help me continue to feel like I made a difference in my community by serving people through my job.

I went to BYU and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in nursing. There, I played flute as part of the symphonic band. I minored in music as planned. I had hoped to continue playing my flute in a local orchestra but have not done so yet. For now, I am content with practicing my flute on occasion.  It’s not something I’m unwilling to let go of just yet.

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STEPHEN ASHTON

High School  Orem    Current City OREM    Family  Married to Erin, Four Sons

2011 status Doctoral candidate in instructional psychology and technology at BYU

Since graduating in 2001, what parts of your journey have been predictable?

After a year of college at BYU I served a mission to California. Shortly after my return I met my wife, Erin, and worked at the Missionary Training Center as a teacher and as an instructional designer. After doing a year of seminary student teaching and finishing a bachelor’s degree in history at BYU, I went straight into graduate school at BYU.

What are some unexpected happenings?

After my mission I had aspirations of becoming a seminary teacher.

After a year of student teaching I was recommended for hire but was not hired due to the low number of open positions that year. That threw a kink in my plans. But I’m glad that it happened. I have felt that the things I am doing now have been just what I need to be doing.

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Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at greg.utahvalley360@gmail.com.

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