The Path Behind; the Path Ahead

Student Devin Grigsby Reflects on Humble Start, Bright Future

Four years ago, after falling on hard times during the recession, Devin Grigsby, his mother and his little sister picked up their belongings and moved from California to Utah. The three found themselves in Ogden, without a place to live. St. Anne’s Center provided them with a hotel room the first month while Devin and his mom looked for work. As their situation improved, the family moved to an apartment near Weber State University.

“I had seen WSU advertisements around town and knew that it was close to our apartment,” Devin said. “I was worried that even harder times were to come for my family if I didn’t go to school and get a better job.” So at 19 years old, he set down a path that changed his life. He enrolled in college with the goal of earning his degree and changing the financial course of his family.

Today, Devin is a senior majoring in political science and minoring in communication. He was encouraged early on by associate political science professor Gary Johnson and assistant geography professor Jeremy Bryson to get involved in community projects. He eventually landed an internship with the city planner for Roy, Utah, an internship that would fuel his desire to work in urban affairs.

After researching the Wasatch Front’s air quality issue, Devin realized that a better city design could be the solution to air quality and other environmental, social and economic problems. In the future, he would like to help cities implement smart growth plans. “Among other things, the plans would make cities more healthy, pleasant and walkable, so people are less reliant on cars,” he explained.
Called the “healthy city,” this type of design reduces pollutants, enriches local businesses, and creates vibrant neighborhoods and healthier, more engaged citizens. Devin is excited by the prospect of helping developing countries implement such systems as their cities come of age. “All of this depends on how we decide to systematically design our cities, and I want to help in that process,” he said.
Devin got first-hand experience in the inner workings of state government as an intern for the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service, which took him to the Utah State Capitol for a semester. “It was an irreplaceable part of my education at WSU,” he said. “I learned and did a lot in a short and intense time period, but it was all rewarding.”
On campus, Devin is involved with the Multicultural Student Center and is the activities coordination officer for Black Scholars United. He says Weber State gave him the opportunity to meet a wide range of talented people who are dedicated to pursuing their passions. “They may not share the same interests or views as me, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of friendship and respect,” he said. “I have learned that we should acknowledge people and their creativity, hard work and sense of self no matter how similar they are to us or how different they are from us.”

Devin will graduate in spring 2015. In his spare time, he likes to bowl, play billiards and enjoy summer art strolls, farmers’ markets and amphitheater concerts with his friends. He says Ogden is the place for him. “I enjoy the quiet atmosphere, beautiful campus and the evolving accommodations for students and faculty at WSU,” he said. “The professors are knowledgeable and understand that students have lives outside of their classes.”       

Devin says his experience in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences has been transformative. “I come from humble beginnings,” he said, “but with a little initiative and a lot of help from my family, friends, and local and school communities, I have become an enriched person on a promising path.”