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Movers, Shakers, and Innovators of Tomorrow

Forbes Under 30 Scholar

Demitri Haddad was recently named a Forbes Under 30 Scholar for 2019 and attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit. There he joined an elite group of 1,000 college students from around the country who represent the movers and shakers, innovators, and leaders of tomorrow. Currently completing a B.S. and M.S. in Information Systems through the Marriott Business School, Haddad largely attributes his recognition as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar to his professional work in consulting and capitalizing on his scholarly development in the Honors Program. Haddad noted, “The selection process for scholars was through an invite-only application. The application consisted of several essay questions that revolve around leadership and innovation, and my responses largely addressed my experiences in the Honors Program. I was able to talk about my Leadership Development Experience—an internship at the Department of Veteran Affairs—where I led major outreach efforts to increase interest in and knowledge of working in the public sector. This role allowed me to host conferences, info sessions, resume workshops, and meet with students one-on-one to help them find their dream career in public service. I was also able to talk about innovation in my application by referencing beginning the development of my Honors Thesis. In short, I leveraged my experiences in the Honors Program to help me stand out in a pool of thousands of applications.”

Most people encounter moments of self-doubt, but the determining factor to Haddad’s success was his decision to push through. “During my Freshman year at BYU I received a letter from a friend back home. He told me about his BYU experience and how the Honors Program had played a significant role in his education and future. Initially I felt like joining the Honors Program might be biting off more than I could chew, as I already felt that my workload was challenging. I then took a leave of absence from school to serve a mission. While I was serving, that letter and the questions it posed ate at me. ‘Was the Honors Program right for me?’ ‘Wasn’t Honors for students with perfect GPAs?’ ‘Would I even qualify?’ ‘How would I know if I never tried?’ ‘How hard could it really be?’”

Haddad said when he came back to school he decided it was time to figure out what the Honors experience would be like. “I discovered that the Honors Program was the best way to take full advantage of my education. I joined because I wanted to be a part of a community of students who pushed themselves for academic excellence. The classes in the Honors Program help you find your voice, narrow down your passions, and walk away with research experience to prove it. I’m making my own connections and learning through a carefully guided approach. I feel like I’m able to tackle problems with my unique approaches and come to my own conclusions.”

To other students Haddad recommends taking full advantage of the numerous opportunities available throughout the University. For him, Haddad found the mentorship and opportunity in the Honors Program. “I would recommend taking full advantage of the Honors Program. You will not find a more supportive learning environment— shrinking classes down from 800 students to 40, being surrounded by the best professors the University has to offer, and taking enjoyable and engaging classes.“

Haddad feels that his experiences at BYU have helped to refine his character and to expand intellectually. “The Information Systems program taught me how to collaborate on projects and exposed me to new technologies in development. I was told that grades didn’t matter; our success was based on how much we helped other people, so I made it a goal to get to know every person in my cohort. I offered as much help as I could to my peers and I felt that our success was based on our collaboration not our competition.”

Haddad has put the skills he learned in the classroom to use as a web developer. “It’s the perfect combination of design thinking and problem solving to deliver unique solutions. The skills I have gained in web development have given me a great breadth of technologies. I now plan on diving deeper into each skill so I can better apply them in my work,” Haddad said.

Earlier this year, Haddad’s hard work and service to others in his cohort was recognized by receiving the Cherrington Scholarship for 2019. Haddad also possesses an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2017 Haddad helped the local ice cream sandwich store Penguin Brothers open their first physical location, and currently contracts out for several companies to build custom web applications. He describes his niche as a “small business kickstarter – I love working with people to get their ideas off the ground.”

For Haddad, his next step of his undergraduate experience is completing his Honors Thesis. “I’m planning on writing my thesis on real estate technologies and am working with the professors in the Information Systems program to find the best resources. I would like to explore how we can use machine learning and data science to make more educated purchases in the market. Real estate is an untapped market when it comes to technology—I’m excited to research the market and see what can be developed to meet the needs of homebuyers.” Haddad currently works as a web developer for the University and plans on graduating in April 2021. Following graduation, he would like to pursue a career in tech consulting.