Munkhzul Galbadrakh, who goes by Muugii, has worked at BYU–Hawaii’s Sustainability Center as a chicken team lead for two years.
From the skills she’s gained while working at the center, she said she feels confident she could live without a grocery store. She also developed a great love for the chickens she’s looked after.
Galbadrakh, a senior from Mongolia majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said when she started working at the Sustainability Center there were 40 chickens, and now there are over 200.
As the chicken team lead, she raises chickens from egg to adulthood. “I work in all kinds of weather conditions, even when it’s rainy and stormy or [on] Sunday. “Because I put so much effort and care into my chickens, I love them with all my heart. When I leave, I will miss them so bad. My friends tease me as a chicken hero,” she said.
Leslie Harper, manager of the Sustainability Center, said, “Muugii is steadfast and funny. She has such a love and concern for her animals. She would do anything for them. She is driven to succeed. Mongolia will have trouble keeping up to her.”
Galbadrakh said when she came to BYUH, she was unsure of what career to pursue because she had yet to discover her talents. However, she said her BYUH experience helped her find it.
“I am graduating with a clear vision of my future, confidence, necessary knowledge and skills I need to achieve my goals.” She said her love for traveling, nature and animals inspired her to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism management.
Dedicated chicken farmer
Galbadrakh said, “I never knew how much I could do until I worked for the center. I can plant vegetables and raise chickens. I can be self-reliant no matter what happens to the economy and the market.”
Galbadrakh said she used to dream of living in a skyscraper and with everything automatized. “I was dreaming of having robot servants that cook my food, brush my teeth and put clothes on me just like the Hollywood movies. But I realized that living close to nature is the right way of life. Now my dream is to have my own land and have an organic farm where I can produce my own food,” she commented.
Working at the farm also helped her to overcome laziness, she said, because she learned to fix bikes and build wooden objects. “If there are the proper tools and materials, then I can build things. My first goal is to build a nice house for my dog.”
She said these skills are valuable to her because she no longer has to rely on others for help.
Galbadrakh said raising chickens helped her learn gospel principles. “God really loves us and cares for us, just like the hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
“Some of my chickens escaped from me and got lost in the farm. I knew there were dangers waiting for them, such as dogs and mongooses. I know what is best for them and try to keep them safe. Just like that, the gospel and the commandments are given to us to protect from potential dangers.”
Otgontuya Tumursukh, a senior from Mongolia majoring in TESOL, said she knew Galbadrakh in Mongolia and later developed a friendship with her at BYUH.
“I work with her at the Sustainability Center and am amazed how much she loves her chickens. She will do anything for them,” she shared.
From hobby to career
Because she loves nature, traveling and new experiences, Galbadrakh said she chose to major in hospitality and tourism management.
“During my college years, I traveled a lot around the island and the mainland because I wanted to see how people run hospitality and tourism businesses. My travels and internship helped me to see potential business ideas I can do back home.”
Galbadrakh said she did her internship in Montana for four months at a resort located next to the town West Yellowstone. “They keep the Hebgen Lake busy by doing all kinds of fun water activities, such as boating, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, water skiing and so on,” she explained. “The owners of the resort utilize that lake to earn a lot of money.”
Galbadrakh said Mongolia has a beautiful natural landscape with forests, deserts, miles of flat steppes, mountains and many big bodies of water. “I realized Mongolia is full of resources to develop tourist attractions,” she shared.
Visiting Disneyland, Universal Studios and other famous tourist attractions helped her gain similar insights and experiences related to her major and future career. Galbadrakh said she saw how tourist business employees handle problems, such as helping lost customers, running lost and found and many other potential problems.
Tumursukh shared, “We both love traveling so we are travel partners. We traveled around the mainland together and created many wonderful memories together. She is good at planning and is very funny. She is energetic and persistent.”
Galbadrakh said she worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center where she gained customer service, teamwork and leadership skills which will be beneficial for her future career.
Molly Duersch, an alumna who graduated in the Fall of 2018 and majored in political science, said she met Galbadrakh when she was her EIL tutor.
“I love Muugii. We became good friends when we had a swim class together. We would meet up frequently each week to get in our swimming hours and that time quickly turned to some of my favorite memories. Muugii is such a special person to me. She is hilarious and being around her, you always know that you will laugh.”
Galbadrakh served her full-time mission from 2012 to 2014, where she said she gave her best to the Lord. She also served in the Laie Hawaii Temple for over three years until the temple closed due to COVID-19. She said her temple service helped her to understand her covenants and their significance on a deeper level.
Munkhzul Bat-Erdene, a senior from Mongolia majoring in TESOL and a friend of Galbadrakh, said, “Muugii understands her responsibilities very well and always fulfills them in high quality. She served in the temple for a while and never skipped her temple shifts no matter how tired and how busy she is. She served in the morning shifts, so she wakes up very early to serve. I admire her persistence and her desire to serve the Lord.”
Galbadrakh said she is grateful for the IWORK donors who enabled her to study at BYUH. “My parents are middle-class workers, and I am the youngest of four, so if it wasn’t for the IWORK program, it would be financially impossible for me to study abroad."