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Winter 2022 graduation student speaker says coming to BYUH taught her to not be afraid in taking the first step

Natasya Haridas is standing in front of the Mckay Building mural. She is wearing a red dress, black graduation gown and a gold necklace. She is laughing and holding her graduation cap in her hand.
Natasya Haridas hopes to one day have a career in skincare.

Natasya Haridas said she has always wanted to go above and beyond when working towards her goals. She explained education in Singapore is very competitive, and she got looked down on for attending school overseas because there is a stigma if someone doesn’t get into the top schools, they won’t make it very far in life.

Haridas, a senior from Singapore majoring in business management with a marketing emphasis, said she wanted to be the graduation speaker upon returning to BYU–Hawaii from her mission in Sydney, Australia. She said she was shocked yet grateful when Academics Vice President Isaiah Walker asked her if she would be the graduation speaker. “There are so many amazing students who are graduating, so I didn’t think I would make it.”

Growing up, Haridas said she compared herself to others and became stressed from feeling like she wasn’t doing good enough. In Singapore, she felt she didn’t achieve high enough grades, she said, because the education system pushes students to compete against each other in their academics.

She said the BYUH professors teach their students to compete against themselves, not each other. If there’s anyone she was competing against, she explained, it is the best version of herself.

Her fiancé, Brandon Escamilla, said Haridas knew how to take advantage of the opportunities she had at BYUH because she set goals, got good grades and became the graduation student speaker. He added she is a go-getter and is always pushing him to work harder. “That’s something I would like to gain from her.”

Taking the first step

The message of her talk, Haridas shared, is people should not be afraid to take the first step forward. She said she compares students to birds because they need to spread their wings to see where the wind takes them.

Coming from Singapore, Haridas said she didn’t think she would grow so much educationally and secularly. “All it took was a step of faith to move forward and do it.” She said students have a lot they want to achieve, but it can seem too hard to do or requires a lot of effort.

She said coming to BYUH was something she dreamt of but never thought she’d actually achieve. However, she said she wanted to take a different path from her peers in Singapore who all followed a set path.

Upon being accepted, Haridas said she “dropped everything” to pursue her dream to attend BYUH because she knew what she was capable of and wanted to do. She described it as an “impulsive decision that turned out really good.” Like playing a chess game, she said she is now in control of her dreams.

Haridas said the professors at BYUH don’t want their students to fail so they give them the grades they deserve based on their efforts. While studying, she said she knew, “As long as I put in my best effort, I will see rewards some way or another.”

Finding a passion

While attending BYUH, Haridas said she learned everyone is passionate about something. She shared she became interested in skin care when she experienced eczema after returning home from her mission.

While finding a cure, Haridas said she began experimenting by mixing coconut oil, aloe vera and lavender and applying it to her skin. She said the concoction actually helped. It was then she realized she could start her own skin-care business, she explained.

Haridas said BYUH provided her with opportunities to connect with people in the skin-care industry. For example, she said Ann Springer, assistant professor in the Faculty of Business & Government, had her create an Instagram account and post information tailored towards skin care. She said Springer really motivated her to do her best and begin thinking about a potential career in skin care.

Joy Tang, a junior from Canada majoring in business management, said Haridas tends to be very organized in her work ethic. In her opinion, she shared Haridas put in an outstanding amount of effort for her social media page. Her effort shows that, to her, this isn’t just an assignment, but it was something she was passionate about, she added.

Tang shared Springer advised Haridas to build a website after she asked her for advice on how to expand her career opportunities. She said Haridas spent the next whole Saturday developing her website. “When she gets feedback, she does it right away.” The website contains information about who Haridas is and why a company should hire her, Tang added.

Escamilla said he and Haridas both served in the Sydney Australia Mission together and became good friends. He said while they were serving, he saw Haridas was very ambitious and is a go-getter. Haridas would serve in a lot of high-tempo city areas, which is the kind of tempo she can work at, Escamilla added.

Natasya Haridas has one hand on her cheek and the other resting on the sign in the Flag Circle in front of BYUH. Her fingers are touching her graduation cap. She is smiling and wearing a red dress and black graduation gown.
Natasya Haridas said she dreamed of being the graduation speaker at BYUH.

Motherly personality

Escamilla said Haridas’ companions and friends would call her mom because she was very caring and loving to everyone she knew and met. He said Haridas would take care of her companions by helping them with big or little things. Seeing the way she loves and cares for people makes him feel lucky, he said.

Tang said Haridas is very trustworthy and a good listener. She said a lot of people would open up to her about their personal issues because she would empathize with them. She added she encourages people to overcome their comfort zones and see the good in a person and the potential they have.

Last semester, Tang said she was feeling unmotivated and spending time with Haridas helped her feel better about herself because she was observant. “To see that someone can see my skills and capabilities, helps strengthen [my] self-esteem as well.”

One day, Tang said she was stressed out from school, and Haridas had her list the reasons she was feeling stressed. She said the two friends worked together to overcome these struggles. By listing her problems, she added she could organize her thoughts and figure out ways to deal with her problems.

Tang shared she and Haridas enjoy food, and if she was having a bad day, Haridas would cook food for her friends. “I think food has definitely made our friendship stronger because we both love food.”

Off to a great start

After graduation, Haridas said she will be working as a supply chain associate for Gathre in Utah. Although the job isn’t related to her major, she added she took classes that taught her about supply chain management. She explained while looking for an on-campus job, she saw she liked to organize herself and see how things develop or progress.

As a student manager at BYUH International Student Services, Haridas said she learned diligence is an important trait to have. She said she had many opportunities to work and lead among her peers. “It helped me to see what I can do with the everyday ideas that I have as long as I am willing to put in the effort.”

Haridas said she doesn’t know too much about science and producing skin-care products but plans to pursue a business in the next 15 or 20 years. However, she added networking and seeking potential partners to work with will be helpful in pursuing this as a career.

Haridas said she did get in touch with a skin-care company looking for a marketing person. She said the company asked her to present a marketing plan to them to consider if she qualifies, which she plans to do after finishing finals. She said she doesn’t plan to pursue skin care right away but believes she can learn much from being a supply chain associate. “I do want to one day be able to work for a skin-care company so I think this is a good start.”

Tang said she met Haridas during Haridas’ last year of college and saw how stressed she was seeking opportunities to help her pursue her career. She said watching all of her hard work come together makes her happy and proud of her.

Haridas shared she and Brandon will be getting married in July.

Eventually, Escamilla said he will graduate into the military, which means wherever the army sends him, Haridas must follow him, limiting her options. Despite this, he said Haridas has exemplified what it means to be unafraid in stepping forward. “There’s a lot of uncertainty for her … but she’s got a plan and she’s worked hard at it.”