“Our lives are a series of defining moments, strung together by passing time. Surrender fully to the moment, because it is not the moment itself that defines us, but how we choose to live in it.”

—Jill Hanna

Carson Bennett was a high school senior when he had one of the most important hinge moments of his life—you know, the kind of moment where you can feel some kind of cosmic shift in your entire life’s path wrapped up in a seemingly inconsequential decision; the type of moment that comes into brilliant focus only when one looks into the rear-view mirror of life.

He didn’t score the game-winning touchdown or sail around the world in a semester at sea. He simply took a creative writing class, and that, as Frost might say, has made all the difference.

It was in that class that Carson discovered a love for poetry. There that he first felt a sense of duty with regards to writing. There that the passing thought of going to BYU became both a possibility and a reality as his teacher recommended he apply for the Lavern S. Clark creative writing scholarship for incoming freshman.

And, because of that, it was there that the wheels were set in motion for even more life changing experiences down the road.

As a freshman at BYU, Carson entered a poem he’d written into a contest on a bit of a whim and ended up winning the opportunity to attend the Western Regional Honors Conference. There, he presented his poem and spent the weekend in a four-star hotel, listening to dedicated honors students from several states presenting their own findings on a multitude of topics.

“That whole experience opened my eyes to what I could become,” Carson said, adding that it confirmed his decision to pursue the Honors program.

A few months later, Carson set off on an even bigger eye opening experience: a full-time mission.

“I’d like to think that I would have gone on a mission if I hadn’t ended up at BYU,” Carson said. “But my freshman year was a dream and because of that, I had no questions about going. I believe the Lord knew where to put me.”

From 2009 to 2011, the Lord put Carson in Brazil’s southernmost mission. Then, once he was back at BYU, the Lord put Carson in the path of an old friend who was just returning from the Cambridge Direct Enrollment program in the United Kingdom.

“As I learned more about the program, it was another one of those “do this” moments, that inner pull,” Carson said.

So last summer Carson traveled to England and spent the summer studying, reflecting, and challenging himself under the guidance of Cambridge Dons, at the same time rubbing shoulders with other driven students like himself.

“Just being around so many people hungry for education, and being able to talk about it with them in an intimate setting changed a whole lot of things,” Carson said. Staying up until all hours of the morning talking with and learning from his peers led Carson to co-found the Curiosity Club, a group of inquisitive Honors students that meets weekly to foster camaraderie and learning about the world together.

“Cambridge got me asking questions,” Carson explains. “Those questions captivated me, and I found myself wanting to go after the answers.”

Carson will have plenty of answer seeking to keep him busy in the coming months—he’s just embarking on the thesis process, and intends to do something with witness literature and trauma theory.

In the meantime, he’s got his hands full as a junior balancing a double major in English and Portuguese along with an on-campus translation internship for the Church, putting the Lectures on Faith into Portuguese. He also serves as a coordinator for the Cambridge program and will teach the prep class in 2013.

An adherent to the belief that life isn’t a matter of what he has or what he does, but rather a measure of what he has become, Carson is happy living life in the moment—in the best possible way.

Fun facts: Carson was born in the Big Easy (New Orleans), but considers Holladay, UT his hometown. He is a pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish) and plays guitar, intramural volleyball and enjoys participating in triathlons. If you keep your eyes open while crossing campus, you might see him reading “The Odyssey” as he walks between classes. As if mastering two languages wasn’t enough, he’s currently learning Spanish and Hebrew (which just may come in handy since he’s considering joining the foreign service when he grows up).