Early in the morning, before anyone else in the house was awake, Elder Roger McCarty said his mind was flooded with ideas, flow charts and inspiration from the Lord. He started drawing pictures and explanations of the ideas in his brain, marking the moment the On Campus Internships program (OCI) was born, created to foster success for students, he explained.
McCarty, who was the director of experiential learning at BYU in Provo when he received this inspiration, said he fasted and prayed for months for a way to give undergraduate students work experience without needing more professors or funding at BYU in Provo.
However, when McCarty first presented the program to the dean at BYU in Provo, he said he was told the program wouldn’t be successful. Despite the negative response, McCarty said he followed the Lord’s direction and implemented the program in 2008 with just 25 students per semester.
By 2016, he said his class size grew to 1,000, meeting his goal of 2,000 students participating in OCI each year. “This is not my program. This is the Lord’s program. ... I know this program came from the hand of the Lord and I am thankful for the part Sister McCarty and I were able to play in its development and implementation,” he said.
The OCI program
McCarty explained OCI is a program he initially created and implemented at BYU in Provo in 2008 before quickly expanding it to BYU–Idaho and then BYUH a few years later. The program provides students with professional work experience before they graduate to set them apart from other prospective employees.
The OCI program was implemented at BYUH a few years before the he and his wife, Sister Marsha McCarty, were called. Elder McCarty said it was a blessing when they were called to serve at BYUH because he helped give the program a solid foundation to be successful in the future when their mission is over.
Learning from the students
Today, the McCartys, who are from Utah, are serving as senior missionaries called to be instructors in the Faculty of Religious Education. He said they also oversee the OCI program on campus. Elder McCarty said the students of BYUH have taught him just as much as he has taught them.
He said the most important thing he has learned is the true potential of each student and every person he meets. He said many struggling students have come to him and Sister McCarty when their confidence was diminished and they felt like they are failing, Elder McCarty explained.
When this happens, he said he tries to “metaphorically grab a hold of them, lift them up,” and help them understand and try to see their potential. After this, he said, “They rise up.” He said he used to think certain people have more potential than others and he would look for those individuals.
However, during his time teaching at BYUH, Elder McCarty said he realized all people have “infinite potential.” Sister McCarty said their goal while serving at BYUH was to “help students leave [BYUH] and have better lives.”
Elder McCarty said they achieved this goal by teaching classes and overseeing the OCI program.
Keina Ichimi, a senior from Japan majoring in business management-marketing who participated in OCI, said learning from the McCarty’s experience was inspiring. “I really appreciate their sacrifice for students so they can get better jobs. ... I hope [even after they are gone] lots of students will take advantage of their sacrifice,” said Ichimi.
She added the OCI she completed has improved her future immensely. After her internship, Ichimi had an interview with Amazon in Japan. She said Amazon searches for candidates with leadership attributes and because of her internship, she could provide examples of how she embodied a leader.
Ichimi’s internship involved working with Domo, a company that turns numbers and statistics into meaningful visualization. She said she applied her learning by working for BYUH Career Services, turning alumni files into something they could visualize.
She said without her experience from the internship, she would not have secured this job with a strong company after she graduated.
Called to serve, in the Lord’s timing
When Elder McCarty retired from his position as a director of experiential learning at BYU in Provo after 10 years, he said he and his wife wanted to serve a mission. Sister McCarty said they had been praying about serving a mission but consistently got the answer “not yet.”
However, after general conference, she said they wondered again if they should put in their papers. “We both prayed about it, and we got one of the strongest answers we ever had to a prayer. And it was, ‘It’s not time and don’t ask me again. I’ll tell you when it’s time.’”
Six weeks later, she said they got the phone call from the missionaries serving at BYUH over the OCI program. They asked for recommendations of who should serve next because their mission was almost over.
Sister McCarty said as soon as she heard that phone call, she knew they were meant to serve a mission there and thought, “That’s our mission. We’re supposed to do that mission.”
She said she knew she should recommend her and her husband to serve. The next day at the temple, they both said they received the strongest impression they were meant to serve a mission here.
Elder McCarty said, “This is what the Lord wanted us to do. ... Coming here, I was able to bring the full power of the program because I knew it inside and out, and I was able to get it going faster than anybody else could.”
Sister McCarty said within a week and a half of turning in their papers, they received their call and reported to the mission field 90 days later.
Through it all, she said they saw how every little thing from doctor and dentist appointments to travel plans worked out perfectly, and they knew it was God’s doing.
The impact of teaching
Elder McCarty said what he and his wife love most about teaching their classes is the impact and change they see in their students. They teach Jesus Christ and the everlasting gospel, designing your life, career transitions and two on-campus internships.
He added he and Sister McCarty came to Hawaii because Heavenly Father wants BYUH students to have these programs to bring blessings to their lives because he loves them. “We’ve been given the opportunity to help make that come to pass.”
Amanda Penrod, a senior from California majoring in English, said she is currently taking the McCarty’s designing life class. She said being in the course for only a few weeks has helped her reevaluate her life and make changes.
“I’ve been able to see how I’m spending my time and what I want to do to create a more balanced and fulfilled life. ... They taught me all of this from one lesson! Imagine what they’ll teach me in an entire semester!”
Serving together Elder McCarty said getting the opportunity to serve together for three years “has been a dream” for them because they love being together and teaching together and hope to do so, along with raising families, for eternity.
Sister McCarty said it brings her joy to have a strong marriage and be an example to their students at BYUH of what a good marriage looks like. She said she hopes this assures those who are worried that it is possible.
She added her and her husband “couldn’t be happier” about what they have done and are “very, very sad to leave.”
However, she said they “have a very clear feeling” they are to move on to the next chapter of their lives because they’ve “made the impact [they] needed to.”
She added their lives have been touched by students just as they have touched their lives. She continued, “It’s been a wonderful experience.” Elder McCarty said they will “do the next thing the Lord wants us to do.”