Huong Jade Balden was born in Vietnam but moved to Sydney, Australia when she was four. She began her higher education at a university in Sydney, where she studied international studies and law. The longer she attended the university, the stronger she felt as though she was not in the right place. As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she realized that BYU was where she needed to be. Balden hungered for the spiritual knowledge BYU provided.
With a fervent passion and desire to teach children, she embarked on a journey to the United States to pursue her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the McKay School. She graduated in August 2004. She will always remember the people she met along the way. She recalls, “I was fed under the feet of amazing professors and was befriended by the most intelligent friends I will have for life! I cannot thank BYU enough.”
Since graduation, Balden has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mother to her four daughters: Makayla, Emily, and her set of twin girls, Genevieve and Madison Lee. Her family lived in Sydney, Australia, and during this time, Balden decided to return to teaching. After only 10 days of recertifying and training, she was ready to teach in New South Wales schools. She found that they were impressed with the top-notch training she received at BYU. She reports that even years after graduation, when she walks into a classroom, she still feels like she is on the cutting edge of education. After four and a half years in Sydney, she returned with her family to the States when her husband was accepted into the Thunderbird MBA School in Arizona.
Balden says that her brain is like a bank. She found that in school, she often didn’t know why she needed to learn certain things that seemed irrelevant or unrelated at the time. Now, as a stay-at-home mother, schoolteacher, and citizen of the world, she found that pieces of information she picked up in college have come back, like making a withdrawal when she has needed it. She realizes now that the lessons she learned at the McKay School have enriched her family’s lives for the better.
Her time at the McKay School not only prepared her to be a competent educator, but a good mother and leader in her home. She kept many books and notes from college and often refers to her textbook from her child development class to better understand her own children. She has passed her enthusiasm for BYU on to her daughters, and when asked where they want to go to college, they answer, “BYU!”
In her free time, Balden enjoys running, painting, learning piano, crocheting, and reading. She is also honing her culinary skills. Her first priority in life is to teach her children to live the gospel and be good disciples of Jesus Christ. Despite everything she has already achieved, she still hopes to one day build a school in Vietnam with her husband and help provide knowledge and skills to children based on gospel truths.
January 5, 2010