MISM Student Maria Yacaman Tees Off

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With lush green fairways set against the red-rock backdrop of southern Utah, Entrada Golf Course in St. George is Maria Yacaman’s favorite place to tee off. Not just because Zac Efron had a picnic on Hole 3 in High School Musical 2—although Yacaman does appreciate that—but because of its difficult yet rewarding nature.

“It’s challenging, but you can score if you’re playing well,” Yacaman says. “The back nine has lava rocks. That makes it difficult, but the landscape is so gorgeous, it’s hard to get mad after a bad shot.”

The MISM student from Bogota, Colombia, isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. She came to the United States five years ago to play golf for BYU. She intended to major in finance, but after taking a required information systems intro class, Yacaman changed her plans.

“Colombia is a developing country, so technology isn’t as big there,” Yacaman says. “I never thought of doing information systems. When I started, I didn’t know anything. But I stuck with it. They teach you step-by-step so you can succeed.”

And Yacaman has definitely succeeded. During her time at BYU, she has earned a 3.98 GPA. Her one A- came from a Book of Mormon class—not bad for someone who isn’t a member of the LDS faith. She was recently named to the WCC’s All-Academic team for the second straight year and finished in the top twenty at four different golf tournaments this season. Yacaman’s no-nonsense attitude helps her stay on top of a busy schedule that balances MISM classes with the demands of being a Division I athlete.

“It’s just time management,” Yacaman says. “Sometimes you have twenty-minute breaks during the day that you spend doing nothing.  I take advantage of those little breaks to get things done. Whatever I am doing, I give 100 percent to it.”

Whether it’s golf or information systems, Yacaman’s concentrated effort shows through.

“Golf is a tough sport,” Yacaman says. “You can practice many hours, and it still doesn’t guarantee that you are going to be successful.  The mental factor that golf requires is huge.”

That mental toughness helped her enjoy one of the most difficult parts of the information systems program: INTEX, a weeklong case competition that students in the junior core complete.

“INTEX was one of the best things about the major,” Yacaman says. “You’re in a group with team members, and that’s how companies work in real life. You use your project management skills to come up with a whole system for a company. INTEX combines the computer side and the business side; you take those technical things and explain them to a managerial audience.”

The real-world experiences she’s had at BYU helped Yacaman land two internships with KPMG, where she’ll begin working full-time when she graduates this summer.

“My job title will be forensic investigator, so it’s related to my emphasis in security,” Yacaman says, “My classes right now are about hacking and forensic investigating, so I’m really excited.”