Humans of the U: Preston Hadley

“First and foremost, I’m an Ogden boy. I grew up in and around Ogden, moving a lot. For a large portion of my childhood, I was raised only by my mother, who is one of my greatest supporters and inspirations. Working in one job or another since I was 13, I learned about the value of hard work in my life early on. Before college, I worked on construction projects, coached youth sports, was a cashier at Sam’s Club and was the head lifeguard at Lagoon. In college, I worked in the Zelikowsky Lab, and most recently, as a presidential intern under President Randall here at the U.

I’ve loved my time at the U, but my college education didn’t begin here. I started off at Weber State University, which was closer to home and more financially feasible. I loved Weber but wanted to attend a larger, research-focused institution with a broad student population. I decided to work full time, save and trust myself to attend the U. Here, I have been able to pursue my passions and find programs and people that have helped me succeed.

While here, I’ve studied quantitative analysis of markets and organizations (QAMO). It’s an interdisciplinary major based on collaboration with the business school and economics department. I love numbers and applying economics to solve problems for businesses and social problems for communities. Growing up without a ton of money, you automatically become a value maximizer. Things like math, scarcity and optimization become familiar concepts. I also took intro economics classes at Weber from professor John Mbaku and classes here from professor Scott Schaefer, which sparked my curiosity.

In addition to QAMO, I’m passionate about bringing visibility and awareness to issues around neurodivergent populations. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I know and understand the barriers that people with similar challenges run into when accessing higher education and jobs. Last summer, I had the opportunity to work at Vanderbilt University to assist with neurobiology research and learn about consulting for large businesses to leverage the strengths of neurodivergent individuals in professional work settings. It was a great experience and reinforced to me that there is a lot of progress to be made in regards to the acceptance and understanding of the proven and valuable contributions neurodivergent people bring to the table. I want to be a leader in Utah for that movement. These broad life experiences have cultivated my empathy, curiosity and motivation to apply to medical school to continue to serve the communities I have worked with across Utah and the country.

After graduation, I plan to take a gap year to work on projects I’m passionate about and apply to medical school. Eventually, after graduating from medical school, I want to work as a neurologist or family physician, and help increase access and understanding for neurodivergent populations while serving low-income communities like those I grew up in

If I had the chance to give some advice to first-year students, I would remind them to take it all in. There is no rush. The jobs and opportunities will always be there, but you only go to college once. Take some time to sit back, learn broadly and really enjoy your experience here. Get to know new people, push yourself to try new things and remember to have fun. One of my favorite memories was the road trip I took to California in 2019 to watch the U in the Pac-12 football championship. Nineteen hours in a car with some of my best friends from college was the most fun I’ve ever had.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s no big rush to the finish. College is a time to find your passion and then develop the tools to pursue it and to give back. Take time and really use this opportunity to become the person you want to be. I’d also like to thank those who have supported me. Whether it be the QAMO faculty, Dr. Zelikowsky, my professors, the Center for Disability and Access or my friends in the Honors College, I could not have gotten to where I am today alone. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes which is, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.'”

—Preston Hadley, Class of 2022, B.S. in Quantitative Analysis of Markets & Organizations, David Eccles School of Business, presidential intern