Brigham Young with graduation hat

Katelyn Busch, BS, Elementary Education - Undergraduate Student Speaker

When Katelyn Busch first started her journey at BYU, she struggled to pick a major—until she saw a poster asking, “Do you feel called to be a teacher?” Busch knew that, despite the challenges that come with teaching, she felt drawn to educate. 

Now, Busch is the undergraduate speaker for the April 2024 McKay School convocation, and after five years of diligent study, has earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an arts education minor.

Busch has countless fond memories from her time at BYU, from camping out for her freshman Homecoming game to attending devotionals and enjoying a study abroad in Spain. Busch is grateful for the unique opportunities she had as a student at BYU, including the university’s spiritual opportunities.

“I wanted to go to a Christ-centered school,” she says.

This Christ-centered approach has made her education special, Busch adds—and it has had practical and positive effects on her professional preparation, like the advice her instructors gave her as she prepared for her internship: “My teachers really put an emphasis on the fact that every child, every student we have is a child of God,” she says.

Busch also applies this perspective to her own life. “I definitely feel like [I’m leaving] a better person than I was when I went in,” she says. “I just felt so old at the time, and I’m looking back like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ there’s so much I didn’t know and so much that I wanted to become, and I’m still on that path of being the person that I truly want to be.

“It’s kind of crazy because I thought, ‘I’m going to be at BYU forever.’ And now here I am on the other end.” 

The McKay School was an important part of this growth for Busch, but she knows that learning to teach like the Master Teacher is a lifelong process, and she’s just getting started. But thanks to BYU, she says, her road to becoming the person God wants her to has taken some amazing steps forward.

“I’m hoping that, as I teach and as I serve in my community, I can continue to develop the person that I started becoming while at BYU,” Busch says.

students taking a selfie at graduation

Karen Arnesen, PhD, Instructional Psychology and Technology - Graduate Student Speaker

Karen Arnesen is graduating this week with a PhD in instructional psychology and technology (IP&T)—thanks to her husband’s love, her own curiosity and grit, and the encouragement she found at the McKay School of Education, for which she is the graduate student speaker for the 2024 convocation.

Arnesen earned her Bachelor’s in English literature from 1976–1980. Though she initially thought it was the last thing she wanted to do, she taught middle school English for several years before getting married and becoming a mother to seven children, whom she homeschooled using her teaching skills. She enjoyed being home with her children, she says, but “always in the back of my mind,” wanted to go back to school and “try my hand again to see what it’s like.”

When her youngest son left to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Arnesen surprised her family by deciding it was finally that time for her to resume her education after a 35-year hiatus. She earned master’s degree in IP&T in the two years her son was gone. When he returned, Arnesen and her husband decided to go on a mission of their own. They were called to the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission at the end of 2019, but just a few months in, they were sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By this point, Arnesen knew she wanted to get a PhD in IP&T, so upon returning home, she applied and was admitted into the program that fall. A year later, Arnesen and her husband received a mission reassignment to to Guatemala. However, within seven weeks of being back on their mission, Arnesen’s husband, Brian, was diagnosed with cancer and they were sent home again.

Before her husband passed away four months later, he encouraged Arnesen to “please finish that PhD,” so she did. She says that persisting in her education was a good diversion. However, in some ways it made her so busy that it was harder to grieve.

“I think that if I had stayed home and just tried to be on my own, I would have just slipped into darkness” she says.

Arnesen earned her PhD due in part to the compassion she found at the McKay School. “It was really helpful for me to know that if I had to sit down with any student in the McKay School, they would be willing to listen,” she says, “I felt comfort seeing the people in the halls and their happy conversations.”

Arnesen hopes to use her degree volunteering for organizations that need help creating curriculum, or possibly helping teachers understand and adapt to a curriculum. Choosing a path of purpose rather than a quiet retirement is all part of why she returned to school in the first place, she says, and it’s her main advice to those making the journey she just completed: “Keep focused on why you're doing what you're doing.”

student posing at graduation