Between Salt Lake and a Hard Place

Kent Parker headshot

While living and working in the Salt Lake Valley, Kent Parker commuted to Provo for most of his classes — but because he was also able to take classes at the BYU Salt Lake Center, he didn’t have to cross county lines every day.

The distance between work, school, and home grew larger and larger until BYU alumnus Kent Parker was stretched so thin that he needed an alternative location for his classes. 

It began gradually. Kent kept his high school job at a manufacturing company in South Salt Lake during his first semester at BYU and worked hard to save money for a mission. After serving a mission in Salta, Argentina, and then returning to BYU, Kent applied and was accepted by lottery drawing to attend the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies the following spring.

Kent’s first priority upon returning home from Jerusalem that summer was to ask out a girl he met during the Jerusalem Center study abroad — and they were engaged that winter. Because he had expended all his resources on the study abroad, and now dating, Kent didn’t have much money left. 

“I was so poor after that study abroad that I cracked open my piggy bank to have enough quarters to pay the entrance fees at the BYU Museum of Art,” says Kent. 

After getting engaged, he needed to start saving more than ever. He moved back home to Sandy, Utah, and began teaching — the highest-paying job he could find — at West Jordan Middle School, and later at Sandy Elementary School. 

At the time, university students with at least 90 credit hours were able to teach part time, primarily to students whose first language was not English. The employment opportunities and increased wages available in Salt Lake County met his needs — experience, lodging, finances, etc. — much better at the time than what was available to him in Provo.

But Kent was still a student, too. 

“My parents encouraged me to take classes at the Salt Lake Center. It was much easier to commute from home in Sandy to the BYU Salt Lake Center than to drive to Provo,” he says. 

Kent remembers feeling like he had plenty of space at the Salt Lake Center to use the computer lab, study, and interact with classmates as needed. 

“Arriving at the Center was a respite from the hustle and bustle of work and the world, and it provided a place to focus and to learn. Despite dating a wonderful girl who was living in Provo, I was glad there were days during the week that I could take classes at the BYU Salt Lake Center and not commute to Provo,” he says. 

Attending classes in Salt Lake helped Kent maintain a heavy course load in both Provo and Salt Lake while working in the Salt Lake Valley. He could bridge the gap and regularly enjoy a shorter commute between work and school. 

Releasing some of the tension of his tight stretch, the Salt Lake Center fit Kent’s needs and helped him customize a schedule for his personal circumstances and situation. 

Kent studied business management at BYU and went on to earn a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Notre Dame. He is happily married to that “wonderful girl” from his study abroad, and they have four fantastic children. Kent currently works as the Director of Internal Audit Services for BYU and attributes much of his knowledge and success to his BYU education, including classes he took at the BYU Salt Lake Center.

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