Graduating senior uses theater and SWATT to prepare him to open his own business
Written by
Haeley van der Werf
Devin Hampton said he hopes to one day own his own business.
Image By
Lexie Kapeliela

Devin Hampton, a chicken farmer from a family of entrepreneurs, began to use his childhood passions as a gateway to the rest of his life when he learned how he could transfer the skills he learned to the business world. A graduating senior from California majoring in accounting and business, Hampton’s time at BYU–Hawaii included starting a chicken farm with Les Harper under SWATT and performing in every production by Kristl Densley.

Hampton said his accomplishments were not his own. “Too many people place too much emphasis on any one individual’s success and neglect to recognize the amount of people who helped that one person achieve something. I’m honored to have so many people believe in me and to have had so much support from so many people.”

He said his favorite experiences at BYUH taught him skills he will taking with him to find work at Amazon and to starting his own company.

The theater program

Hampton said he started performing in theater when he was in middle school. It’s a passion he carried with him throughout high school and college, and he shared how it has helped him prepare to present himself in the future.

“I like performing,” he said, “and the training and the presentation skills you learn. The business program doesn’t have any presentation skills classes. It doesn’t even have a public speaking class... For me, it’s important to be able to give presentations, to present abstract information to people in a way they can understand it.”

Kristl Densley, assistant professor of theater, said she first met Hampton when he auditioned for the first play she did as faculty at BYUH, “Into the Woods.” One of the first things she noticed about him was, “He had wonderful, natural instincts on stage. He was willing to play. Where a lot of people were really terrified, he was like, ‘I don’t know what we’re doing, but let’s have at it.’”

Part of what made the theater program meaningful to Hampton, he described, was working with the Densleys. “I love the way they see life [and] the way they talk about what’s important in life. I love the way they help students learn presentation skills and the importance of presentation skills and communication skills. I love their attitudes [and] their personalities.”

His hard work and dedication have helped his relationship with the Densleys transition from teacher and student to colleagues. Densley explained, “When school is over and he’s gone, he won’t be my student. I won’t refer to him as my student. I will refer to him as my friend Devin and his wife Abigail.

“I came here nervous as a new faculty about how everything was going to come together and how I was going to build a program from nothing. When I came, it was just a collection of classes. It wasn’t even a minor.

“How was it going to become the thing I saw in my mind? He stepped right in. I think he’s been in every production I’ve done since. I will miss him and everything he contributes.”

The chicken farm

Les Harper, sustainability coordinator and SWATT director, said the first time he met Hampton was when he stopped him in front of the McKay Building. According to Harper, Hampton said to him, “Brother Harper, I really want to do chickens on campus. When I was in high school, I had 300 chickens. Is there something we can do here?”

What really stuck out to Harper about Hampton was how, “I’ve never met anybody who was so knowledgeable or understanding of the dynamics of raising chickens the way he does. He’s not what you would expect a chicken farmer to look like. You could pull a hen out of the roost, pull out an egg, and ask him what he knows about it and the next 30 minutes will be a conversation, mainly from him, about what is going on in that egg.”

Hampton explained he wanted to start a chicken farm because, “With 300 chickens, every student here on campus could get half a dozen eggs for free at Farmer’s Market. I raised 300 chickens in high school, which is not a lot of chickens.

“Chickens are super easy. They're so easy there are more chickens in Laie than people. My idea was bringing chickens, but healthy chickens who lay eggs ... We had to scale down my very large idea of giving everybody eggs on campus, but we have 70 chickens. I was able to incorporate my chicken farm into [my wife] Abigail’s Temple View Learning Garden.”

Harper said Hampton’s biggest contributions to SWATT were, “Structure and knowledge. He knows what he wants, and he has the skillset to get him there. There have been times in different semesters when he worked for us where he hasn’t been able to put much time into it, but he watches what’s going on with the other students who are working for us. Then, when he has the time, he just locks something in place, and it shifts us to another direction, and elevates us again.”

According to Harper, “When [Hampton] got here, he didn’t understand people management. He’s learned a lot of patience. Being an impressive individual, being someone who knows where he really wants to go in life, you just expect everyone else does the same thing.

“We have students who have never even touched an egg, other than making breakfast. Then you have Devin who is literally at one with the chickens. So it’s been a learning, growing exercise with him, to be able to step back enough to be able to teach people and help them understand what is necessary to make it successful.”

Beyond BYUH

Following his graduation from BYUH, Hampton said he and his wife will be moving to Washington state, where he will work in the Amazon finance and accounting department. Within a few years, however, he plans to open his own business.

“I will not be an employee for very long,” he said. “I like bringing in people and working with people who make it easy to get things done and to make things happen. I can’t ever see myself being an employee and working long term for somebody else.”

Both Densley and Harper said they will miss Hampton after he is gone. Harper further explained, “We’re really going to be lacking for depth as far as knowledge. He made it look easy. Without him, it’s going to be one of those things where we’re going to really struggle to do the more complex things.

“I wish him well. I have total confidence he is going to go on and do great things. I look forward to hearing back from him in 5, 10, or 20 years. I’m sure by then I'm going to marvel at where he’s ended up. We wish him well and thank him for all he has contributed. We wish him the best at Amazon and beyond. I’m sure Amazon won’t be able to hold on to him for very long. He’s a great guy and a good friend.”

Densley shared, “I will miss getting to collaborate with him. I’m seeing us laughing while building sets. I’m seeing him and my husband, who have a great relationship. I remember those moments.

“If there’s anything Devin wants, it will be done. It will be wildly successful because he is going to will it into existence. He is such a hard worker. He would go to the service day, work all day at the service day, and then come and build sets in the theater for the rest of the day. Hard work does not worry him at all. That’s just what he does.”

Date Published
June 27, 2019
Last Edited
June 27, 2019