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Student Profile

The Safety Lens and Historical Context

by Michael T. Godfrey

Growing up in a small farming community in central Washington state, I did not have any international experiences—not even a visit to Canada. And although I met people from other countries while serving in the Texas Houston Mission, that did not equate to an international experience.

During my first semester at BYU, however, someone mentioned how much they were enjoying their Arabic studies. The next semester I tried an Arabic class and loved it. Now I am a senior, and I spent a semester abroad in Jordan as part of my Middle East studies and Arabic major.

My study abroad experience was invaluable. To experience the country, to see how people behave, to see what the living conditions are, to live like them—that kind of insight is priceless.

Working as a security analyst in BYU’s International Security Office has had a big impact on my education. Day to day my work has helped shape how I think by looking at world events through the lens of ensuring the safety of students and faculty traveling abroad. That experience has helped to narrow my career focus. I hope to work with a government agency or with a company that supports a U.S. mission abroad.

My job has also taught me that history is extremely important. In my work I need to put everything in a historical context. In order to be an expert, you need to understand as much as possible about a situation, not just one nuance of the subject.