University Awards

  • University Awards Image

Each Homecoming, the BYU Alumni Association honors individuals or couples who have given outstanding service through a variety of ways.

Each Homecoming, the BYU Alumni Association honors individuals or couples who have given outstanding service in a variety of ways. This year's honorees are listed below.

Award Recipients

William H. Child

Honorary Alumni

The iconic American businessman Warren Buffet has noted that Bill Child made his home furnishings business a success by following a simple, golden rule: treating others as he’d like to be treated himself. Child began wanting nothing more than a chance to be a history teacher, but when his father-in-law, R.C. Willey, unexpectedly died, leaving his appliance business indebted and disorganized, he bravely took it on. From a one-room store in rural Syracuse, Utah, to a “jewel of a company” sold to Berkshire Hathaway, the company flourished under Child’s sound, principled management—part of which was not opening on Sundays, contrary to conventional wisdom. His hard work, honesty, and consistency (in 40 years Child missed only two days of work from illness) were the backbone of the company’s steady expansion to become a billion-dollar retail furniture business. Those core values are at work in his family of eight children, many of whom have worked in the business. Child sits on many boards and has many philanthropic accomplishments, including serving on the BYU President’s Leadership Council.

Paul Ensign Gilbert

Emeriti Distinguished Service Award

More love for BYU Paul Gilbert could not have. His Dad worked there. His widowed Mom remarried a BYU professor, and he grew up in the light of BYU, attending BY Elementary, BY Junior High, and BY High School. All seven of his siblings attended BYU. While at BYU, Gilbert earned the “Most Preferred Man” title and became student body president; he married fellow debate team member Susan Carlson his senior year. After studying law at UC Berkeley he began practicing in Phoenix, Arizona and eventually cofounded Beus Gilbert, a firm known for its high-stakes litigation, real estate, and zoning expertise—and trusted to handle Phoenix’s highest-profile land use cases. Besides volunteering with the state bar, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and National Conference of Christians and Jews, among others, Gilbert helped build the Desert Mission Food Bank for the Lincoln Foundation and became the BYU Alumni Association President. Unsurprisingly, Gilbert’s four children have all attended BYU, and his son Clark was president of BYU-Idaho and now oversees BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

Emily Hardman

Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award

Emily Hardman’s expert legal chops and media savvy belie her farm-town upbringing as one of six siblings and 13 foster siblings. Now a media strategy consultant and Canterbury Fellow for the religious liberty law firm Becket, Hardman graduated summa cum laude from BYU and subsequently earned a JD in 2010. Her legal experience ranges from being a Special Assistant to the 75th U.S. Attorney General to a research fellow at Oxford University, and from the Utah County Attorney’s office to an international firm in London—with a great deal more in between. At Becket, Hardman crafted and executed communications and public relations strategies, and has helped win five U.S. Supreme Court cases. She’s the president and founder of Amicus Communications, a Supreme Court media consulting firm, and an adjunct law professor, where she developed and teaches Litigating in the Court of Public Opinion. She lives in California with her husband, Rob Reading, and likes to hike, bike, paint, and play piano, guitar, and ukulele.

Natalie Mackay

Service to Family Award

Zachary Blakemore was born with a rare genetic disorder that garbles the brain’s signals to the body, preventing him from moving his body normally and confining him to a wheelchair. After a traumatic experience at a playground, where her son could not participate, Natalie Mackay (BS ’00) discovered a fully accessible playground while in Washington, D.C. That playground let special needs kids play safely and interact with other children. Natalie not only determined to help her son, she also founded an organization in 2003 called Unlimited Play that has helped thousands of children in similar situations. Her experience at BYU in helping organize the Special Olympics, which included fundraising and community outreach, suddenly paid off. She began in St. Louis, Missouri, working together with Zachary’s speech therapist, and after four years of work had a universally accessible park come to fruition. To date, through her leadership as executive director, some 20 award-winning playgrounds around the country have been built or are under construction.

Carlos W. Martins

Distinguished Service Award

Carlos Wizard Martins didn’t become a standout business success overnight. Born in humble circumstances—his father, a truck driver and his mother, a seamstress—he learned as a child how to sell, negotiate, and build relationships while on the road with his father. After his family joined the Church, he traveled to the U.S. at 17 to live and work with only $100 to his name, served a mission to Portugal, and then married Vânia. Trusting in the Lord, he took his family to BYU, graduated in computer science, and returned to Brazil to work as an executive. He started teaching English at his home and created Wizard language schools, with one million students and 50,000 employees in ten countries. In 2013 he sold his company to Pearson and reinvested his profits in several companies, including the Taco Bell master license for Brazil. He is fluent in Chinese and the author of three best-selling books. His success has not separated him from God, extensive Church service, and love for his family and others.

Timothy E. Wright

Distinguished Service Award

The life of Timothy Wright (BA ’83) is a reprise of the parable of the talents. Of the things he has been given, both financial and spiritual, he has made them ever so much more so, often through exhaustive efforts. Wright began as a commercial appraiser for a firm in Seattle. He was the quickest one to earn the distinguished MAI professional designation and, in short order, became the youngest partner in the firm. In time he became company president and led it to huge success and eventual sale to Colliers International. Aware of the unrecognized value of self-storage and mobile home parks, Wright created what would become the immensely valuable Life Storage, which he later sold. Quick Quack Car Wash came next, and its growth has been similarly meteoric. Wright’s service is of the same caliber, whether it be his deep commitment to his own family, education for children in Haiti, serving faithfully as a bishop, singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or contributing to BYU in word and deed.