In 1979, Judy Bleggi and her family were new residents in Rexburg, Idaho.
As they settled into Rexburg, the Teton Dam broke loose unexpectedly, and the Bleggi family’s house was flooded. Shortly after, Bleggi knew she needed to apply for a job.
Bleggi was hired as a receptionist for the accounting office at Ricks College. Throughout her career, she observed the expansion of the campus and developed long-lasting connections.
“I love the ladies I worked with,” Bleggi said. “We just had so much fun.”
Bleggi started her employment at Ricks College during a period when her daughters, Susanne Ellsworth and Tracy Clark, were in their early years.
For the Bleggi family, BYU-Idaho wasn’t just a place to work, it was a place that supported the family unit.
“I just remember coming up here and literally running the halls and probably causing so much chaos,” Clark said.
Bleggi’s career spans 26 years in the accounting office. Notably, she embraced the institution’s spirit, and her connection to Ricks College deepened even further when her two daughters joined as new employees on the campus.
At the time, Ellsworth, Bleggi’s oldest daughter, was a single, 23-year-old mother who wasn’t sure what direction God wanted her to take. She questioned if she should go back to college to gain a nursing degree or jump right into the workforce.
“I spent many nights on my knees trying to decide, and one day the phone rang,” Ellsworth said. “It was HR from Rick’s College.”
Ellsworth took a leap of faith and decided to turn in her handwritten resumé. Out of 65 applicants, Ellsworth got the job.
“When mom and I first started working together, the housing office and the accounting office were right next to each other,” Ellsworth said. “So I got to see my mom every day.”
Ellsworth’s 30-year career at BYU-I was filled with many different opportunities. She found herself in the housing office, the family science department and the children’s lab, and although they worked in different departments, she would often turn to her mom for help.
“I think having each other on campus broadened our horizon to who we could contact,” Ellsworth said. “If I had an issue, I could call my mom and say, I don’t know who to contact over this. And she said, ‘You can contact this person.’”
Clark, the youngest of the Bleggi family, started her career as a student assistant in the computer center. When Clark was hired, her mom, sister and sister-in-law filled three neighboring offices.
After working as a student on campus, and in other positions around the community, Clark desired to be a stay-at-home mom, but as time went on, she knew she needed a hobby.
After telling her husband about her newly developed goals, he asked her what kind of career she wanted.
“I’m like, ‘Actually I want a job that I can come in when I want (and) leave when I want,’” Clark said. “‘And if my kids are gone and they’re sick or something, I can be home.’”
With the strong support system that BYU-I provided to her family, Clark’s dream became a reality when she was hired by the former Department of Interior Design.
The history of 73 years of service
Over the course of a 73-year career spanning three generations, a mother and her two daughters bore witness to numerous transformations in BYU-I’s history.
During Bleggi’s tenure, she had the privilege of serving the institution and its approximately 7,000 students. Her dedicated service spanned five different presidencies and coincided with the transition of Ricks College into BYU-I.
Bleggi’s legacy reflects the commitment she made to BYU-I and the impact her family collectively had on the institution’s growth. Ellsworth also was a part of the transition from Ricks to BYU-I, but she entered the school when BYU-I made the adjustment from paper filing to computers and emails.
“I went through all the change, and mom went through all the change,” Ellsworth said.
In Clark’s career, she is witnessing firsthand how the school is growing and developing in ways some thought were impossible, but through all of the transitions, some things never change.
“When I started, there was, and there still is, the spirit of Ricks,” Bleggi said. “It was a community.”