2013-2014 Honors Student Advisory Council Board:

Michelle Gessel - President
Evan FinlaySecretary
Bryon Anderson - SAC Representative
Rachel McKnightHonors Representative Liason
Anne WhitehouseHonors Representative Liason
Matthew MoenBoard Member
Nathan PhairBoard Member
Sarah DeckerBoard Member
Eric SmithBoard Member



Michelle Gessel - President

Major: Interdisciplinary Humanities, Environmental Studies emphasis
Minor: Art History and Curatorial Studies
Hometown: Layton, UT
Interests: Ice skating, reading, hiking, music, poetry, visiting museums, ecotheology, flying kites, dancing, good conversations, European desserts.
Random fact: I received 4th place in a national impromptu speaking competition.
Why I love Honors: I love the Honors Program because of the people I’ve met, the opportunity to study at Cambridge, the chance to serve on HSAC and the person I’ve become through these experiences.


Evan Finlay - Secretary

Major: Public Health, Health Science emphasis
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Duarte, CA
Interests: Traveling, scuba diving, swimming, soccer, humanitarian aid in Central America, and politics.
Random Fact: I have been to 48 of the 50 states.
Why I love Honors: The people that are involved in it and the excellent professors that teach the classes.


Bryon Anderson - SAC Representative

Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Turner, OR
Interests: The outdoors and anything that involves being active. I like trying new things and challenging myself. I particularly enjoy pushing my physical limits, experience thrills and new feats, and simple activities involving experimentation like cooking.
Random facts: Internet signals are the same frequency as microwaves, causing interference with internet speed when your microwave is running, haha. I speak russian, have gone skydiving, went sea kayaking in alaska, have fallen asleep standing up, have the ability to acclimate to diverse conditions.
Why I love Honors: I like the cultivated learning which honors provides. It motivates me to push myself to perform better and explore and experience new things.


Rachel McKnight - Honors Representative Liason

Major: Interdisciplinary Humanities, Philosophy emphasis
Minor: Theater Arts Studies, Business Management
Hometown: East Lansing, MI
Interests:  Dancing, Jane Austen movies, musicals, reading (biographies, self-improvement and inspirational books), journaling, singing, thinking, Spanish, and playing sports with friends.
Random Fact: I participated in the International Theater Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland with high school theater troupe.
Why I love Honors: I love being around classy, fun, motivated people and Honors is full of them!


Anne Whitehouse - Honors Representative Liason

Major: Biology
Minor: English
Hometown: Redmond, WA
Interests: Hiking, reading, writing, music, daydreaming, experimental cooking.
Random fact: I have climbed the tallest peak in England.
Why I love Honors: I love the access the Great Works card gives me to campus performances and I love associating with honors students.


Matthew Moen - Board Member

Major: Economics
Minor: Business Strategy, Statistics
Hometown: Emmett, ID
Interests: Helping others when they least expect it, pumpin’ steel, exploring unknown places, Lord of the Rings, dancing like I’m trying to stomp out a fire.
Random fact: Before transferring to BYU I studied music education while playing football at the University of Puget Sound.
Why I love Honors: Life is learning.  Honors teaches you how to love learning.  Therefore, Honors teaches you how to love life.


Nathan Phair - Board Member

Major: History
Hometown: Pleasant Hill, CA
Interests: Reading, mostly about history, religion, and politics.
Random fact: I’m a program director for the Vineyard at BYU.
Why I love Honors: The people, of course! And the Maeser Building is easily the best building on campus.


Sarah Decker - Board Member

Major: English
Minor: Editing
Hometown: Prescott, AZ
Interests: Hiking, reading, going to art museums, exploring, reading, writing, thrift-store shopping, cooking, reading, watching old/good movies, eating Indian food and or sushi, talking to people about their passions, life and happiness.
Random fact: I have studied eight different languages, most of which I no longer know. The only one I now speak is an obscure Philippine dialect.
Why I love Honors: How do I love thee, let me count the ways. Honestly Honors is one of my absolutely favorite things about BYU, along with the International Cinema (sort of part of the Honors program) and the Jerusalem Center. It creates a community of those who are passionate about learning and it reminds me that I am. It gives me opportunities to pursue the things I love (note “Interests” above), while pushing me to do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. It makes me happy : )


Eric Smith - Board Member

Major: English, German Studies
Hometown: Sandy, UT
Interests: I like experimenting with different forms of art. I am getting into pyrography (wood burning). I have also done a lot of woodworking and more of the artistic areas of wood-turning, cabinetmaking, scroll saw, carvings, and anything that looks cool. I am obsessed with trying new things. I also mess around with several instruments: the bodhran, drum kit, violin, guitar, ukulele, vocals, and, most recently, the mandolin.
Random fact: I am a professional, licensed wandmaker for Ahrimane’s Wands (the top region supplier of wands).
Why I love Honors: It’s fun! Before joining the BYU Honors Program, I heard a lot of myths about it, like it was hard and time consuming and it wouldn’t really do anything for my education or career. I later realized how wrong I was, but I only learned this from trying out the program. I have participated in Honors at other universities, but have never seen a better program than what the new Honors Program looks like. Honors at BYU is focused on gaining a wide range of knowledge in addition to what you learn concentrating on your major in one niche of the humanities or sciences.