Skip to main content

Outstanding Honors Graduates

Meet students named as Commencement and Honors Graduation Speakers

We congratulate Honors students named as the Outstanding Honors Graduates for 2022! Emilee Carr will represent all of the University’s graduates as the student speaker at BYU’s Commencement exercises this week. Rebekah Olsen and Lindsey Walker will share their remarks at our Honors Graduation exercises, and Amberlee Woodhouse will perform the musical number. Each of these students exemplifies the mission of the Honors Program and is a broad thinker, creative problem solver, and influential leader. Here we get to know a little about each of them:

Emilee Carr, University Commencement Speaker

Emilee.Carr.April 2022.jpg
Major: Molecular Biology
Minor: Chemistry

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am from Yorba Linda, California and I have three darling sisters. As a true medical nerd, I love watching medical dramas like House and Grey’s Anatomy as well as taking obnoxiously long drives up any nearby canyon. Stemming from a love of service, I spend my weekends training baby llamas how to hike and working with patients in the Operating and Emergency Rooms at Utah Valley Hospital.

What has been your favorite Honors experience?
The biannual Bagel Bashes will forever be my favorite Honors experiences. Nothing starts a finals week off better than orange juice and a bagel or two. This was always my secret key to waking up and studying on reading day instead of simply sleeping the day away. When I was on the Honors Student Leadership Council, I also enjoyed the social aspect of Bagel Bash, talking to the stressed students and therapeutically commiserating for a bit.

What advice do you have for your fellow students?
Do not sacrifice your happiness for a perfect score or resume. A grade is not worth your happiness and sanity. Make sure to take care of and be patient with yourself.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I will continue to work in the Operating Room at Utah Valley Hospital until I begin medical school in Summer of 2023.

See University Communications News Feature about Emilee here.

Rebekah Olsen

Becka Olsen Picture.png
Major: English
Minor: Art History and Curatorial Studies

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m from San Juan Capistrano in Southern California and I am the oldest of 5 kids. My main passions are reading, writing, and weaving intricate, beautiful stories. When I’m not deeply engrossed in a book, I work as a student editor of Criterion and as a consultant in the BYU Research and Writing Center.

What has been your favorite Honors experience at BYU?
During the pandemic, I read the entirety of Agatha Christie's works, about 60 novels in total. There was no question that my thesis needed to be centered on her works. Christie is not considered high-brow literature which initially made it difficult to find an acceptable project. After defending her honor a bit, I completed a thesis titled "I--I can't talk about things": The Tragedy of Post-WWII Civilian Masculinity in Agatha Christie's Taken at the Flood”. The thesis looks at English men who stayed home during World War II to farm and keep the country running. These men struggled to express the traumas they faced because they could not compare to those faced by men on the front lines of battle. Using Taken at the Flood, I was able to lay out the general feelings of these men to expose a side of history that people don't talk about often.

What is your advice for your fellow graduates as well as the general BYU student body?
My graduation speech centers on a quote by Robert Browning. “The best is yet to be.” Sometimes we get caught in the belief that everything has to be perfect now and the future will simply not match up to the level of success you currently have. I want to remind people that life is good now and it will get even better. On a more light-hearted note, the printers in the Humanities Commons on the first floor of the JFSB are the best, most reliant printers on campus.

What are your post-graduation plans?
I am attending New York University in the Fall to complete a master’s in education. The program is online and requires that the students also find positions as secondary school teachers. As such, I will also be teaching high school English, achieving a long-held goal of mine!

Lindsey Walker

Major: Political Science
Minor: International Development

Tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in West Jordan and I’m the youngest of four kids. Being the youngest means that I have the cutest nieces and nephews which have kept me sane through all the craziness of college. When I’m not studying, I am playing some sport whether that be volleyball, golf, or even just watching a Utah Jazz game.

What has been your favorite BYU experience?
On February 25th, I helped put together the Hunger Banquet on campus as President of the Students in International Development organization. The theme was “Moving Beyond Good Intentions” and the proceeds from the event were all donated to Co-Africa, an organization dedicated to building schools in Africa. Because of the pandemic, the last Hunger Banquet was in 2019 and it was quite a task trying to bring it back. The struggle was far worth it though.

What advice would you give your fellow graduates and other BYU students?
Chill out. Things will work themselves out and you are going to make it through. Breathe and enjoy the path along the way.

What are your post-graduation plans?
This summer I am going on a mentored research study abroad with Dr. Darren Hawkins and Dr. Josh Gubler from the Political Science department. We will be going to Morocco and Spain to learn about governmental systems and how refugees fit into those systems. In the Fall, I am returning to BYU to begin my master’s in public administration.

Amberlee Woodhouse

Amberlee Woodhouse.jpg
Major: Music Performance with an emphasis in Piano

Tell us about yourself.
Starting piano at age 4, I had a successful career as a performer and in competitions, playing with symphonies, performing in Carnegie Hall, and winning several local, national, and international piano competitions. I got into the piano program at BYU in 2017 out of high school. It’s been a lot of hard work. We’re required to practice 24 hours a week (4 hours a day, 6 days a week), attend performances, take theory, music history, pedagogy, and composition classes. Looking back now, I realize how well rounded that has made me as a musician. I was able to give two hour-long recitals in my undergraduate degrees. Preparing for them was so difficult emotionally, mentally, and physically, but wow - performing was so joyful. I love performing, but I also love teaching. I plan to open a music school after I graduate.

You are playing a special musical number at Honors graduation. What are you playing and why did you select it?
I’m playing Theme and Variations by Cecile Chaminade. She is an amazing composer from the early 20th century who lived in France. She has a huge body of work and was very successful as a composer and a performer despite rampant sexism against women in music at the time. Her music is vastly underplayed and gorgeous! I played this piece at my senior recital. I chose it because it is brief, celebratory, and tender. When I play it, I feel like I’m flying. (I even projected videos of the clouds behind me while I played it at my recital). I’m excited to share it with the Honors Program.

How does the piece reflect your experience at BYU?
This piece has many contrasting moods that fit the range of experiences at BYU. I have selected a different campus experience to keep in mind in each section. During the tender, beautiful moments, I picture some of my favorite memories: The triumphs, the learning, the performances, the mentors who have helped me along the way. There is a tense moment that fades into a light, joking section. During that part, I picture the testing center, then the roommates I would unwind with late at night after a test. During the loudest section, I picture the ROC section at games and the standing ovations after Fine Arts events. The loveliest moment of the piece happens high on the keyboard at the end of the piece. I picture the greatest gift we get from college: Personal growth and self-discovery.

What advice do you have for younger BYU students?
You can be healthy AND do well in college. My freshman year, I hardly slept and took on way too much. I thought that was normal. It’s not. After junior year, I decided to add an extra year to my schooling (this is my 5th year) and it was a great decision. Now, I prioritize sleep, rest, and fun as much as practicing, studying, and work. I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been. It’s totally possible. If you’re hating life in school, take a step back and change something. You don’t have to be miserable for four years to get a degree.