This interview is part of a series focusing on introducing Scroll leadership to readers. The following has been edited for clarity.
Chester Chan, a junior studying strategic organizational communication with minors in finance and marketing, is the current managing editor for Scroll.
Q: Where are you from, and how did you get to where you are now?
A: I’m from Singapore, and I got here on a plane.
Q: Okay, okay. I’ll be a little more specific. When did you start considering coming to BYU-Idaho?
A: I grew up my entire life in Singapore until December 2021 and I came here, and my first semester was winter ’22. I considered coming to BYU-I the moment I got baptized in June of 2019.
I grew up a pretty free thinker because my family is not very religious. However, my parents sent me to a Catholic school. So, I went to a Catholic school for a decade of my life. It is the same school that my father and my brothers went to, so I’ve always been comfortable with the concept of a higher power and that higher power being God and His son Jesus.
I had a grand aunt and she was very impactful in my life. She was very old and bedridden for a better part of her life … I don’t remember the exact details, but she went to a foreign country. She got baptized and died very shortly after. That was a very powerful thing for me and I was like, ‘Maybe something is different about Christianity.’
I took the option to learn more about Christianity stuff and I made many mistakes and I’ve been to a lot of churches, and I almost lost my way actually, until I met a missionary on May 5. He taught me for 25 days and baptized me.
Q: How has being from Singapore and also a newer member of the Church influenced what you do in Scroll?
A: It’s journalism disguised as tourism.
I did it for extra credit my first semester. My second semester I continued doing it because it was fun; I had a media pass, and I had access to cameras. And then my third semester I got hired, and I’ve been here ever since. I transitioned from a writing position to a marketing position. And I transitioned that into a manager position, where I am less of an editor and more than like a manager for Scroll. I do projects and teach class, anything.
Q: You obviously have taken advantage of what the university and Scroll specifically has to offer. So, what would you say to students that you see just coming in?
A: College is whatever you want to be, if you will come to BYU-I, and say ‘I only go to BYU-I because it’s the only one I can afford,’ that could be true. Or you can go to BYU-I because my parents told me to go here, and that might be true. But that’s not the whole picture.
Rexburg’s a very nice place because a lot of things are against you. The weather is against you. The lack of food options is against you. The culture of being very bubbly in nature is against you, but you can also use it as an advantage. Because it’s so much colder. Because people are more depressed more often, it allows your life to be brighter. Your light is definitely brighter in a dark room than in a light room.
Q: Okay, how do you keep that attitude though, when it does get dark and cold and lonely? How do you how do you keep that mindset?
A: I look around; I see snow; it’s dark at like 5 p.m., but like I said, this is home and I worked hard to get here. And I want to make the best of something and everyone’s complaining and everyone’s sad already, and I don’t want to add to that. So I just tried to, not necessarily fake it, but make the best of the situation I have. And I’m thankful that the situation I have is awesome because working in journalism I meet so many cool people.
That’s why I find it hard to be sad here because there are so many small moments that allow me to be happier. And everybody can give a reason. And I think that the common goal is definitely to make this place a more beautiful place.
Q: Why did you think coming to school was the best path for you?
A: I always believed in education. I believe it’s not the end all be all, but education is a very good opportunity for us to learn and to find out what we want and our place in our lives.
That’s exactly the purpose of life, is that you have to make the world beautiful first and then you let your children inherit it, which teaches me two things—God is a creator, but God is also an artist. And that’s something I learned in communications, that everything we do is art.
I never see college as, ‘I get this so I can get paid more,’ no, that’s not how I like to do it. We’re all here to create our own art. We have this need to create because we were all created by a Creator.
The most Christ-like, God-like, thing you can do is create. And whether you like it or not, we’re all creators.
Q: So, what’s your art?
A: I like to make people laugh and smile. It’s my favorite thing to do. I like writing. I like making videos. I freelance as a photographer, so people can see how beautiful they look. In my free time, I like doing stand-up. I like telling jokes. My love language is the opposite of words of affirmation.
My art is I like telling stories. I’m a storyteller. I do take a lot of things seriously, but I see everything as lore and experience points. As much as I’m writing my story, I’m also living the story and I have to be present to live the story.
Q: What do you plan to do after school?
A: I’m contemplating going to law school, not because I want to be a lawyer but because a good friend of mine made me watch “Legally Blonde” and I low-key kind of want a law degree just to be like ‘yeah, I did get my law degree, but it’s no biggie.’ The law is a very beautiful endeavor. And the law is, in my opinion, the greatest part a human can ever create. I can see myself being a professor one day, I have no idea. I create things so I hope to run my own business one day.
Q: What creation or accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I was baptized by this guy, and I was able to shoot his wedding and his engagement photos; it was awesome. And I was able to snap a really good photo of his grandma. His grandma died a week later.
I designed a watch when I was working on my associates for kids with disabilities. It’s called a panic watch because a lot of kids with autism tend to wander out of schools, so the watch is to track them.
I think that the proudest thing I do every single day is waking up because it’s hard. I’m doing the best I can, and I hope that I can inspire others to do the best they can too because there’s so much potential that we will let down because of this thing called “perfection.”
Q: Who have you come to admire the most at BYU-I?
A: I have immense love for this professor. His name is Joel Judkins. Brother Judkins is not a professor. Brother Judkins is literally a grandpa. He’s so great.
I remember being in his class twice and sometimes I worked extra hard on an assignment, not for a grade, not for a rubric, but because I wanted to make him proud.
My grandpa had dementia so early on in life, and I loved him, but I just never had that kind of connection with him. Brother Judkins is like the grandpa I never had, and I love him so much. And sometimes, I know I might freak him out a little bit, but he’s always so patient with me.
What makes you a good professor is that you care.