Dallin Hutchinson (BS ’06) woke up on Christmas day in 2004 to the news that parts of Southeast Asia had been decimated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Still a student at BYU in the urban, rural, and environmental planning major, Hutchinson had been searching for a way to fulfill the motto “The world is our campus.” After feeling a prompting that he needed to help the people devastated by this disaster, he knew he had found his answer.
Not long after this realization, Hutchinson received a call from his former mission president Glen Overton (BS ’71) about an opportunity to help with humanitarian efforts in the Aceh province of Indonesia, one of the areas hardest hit by the disaster. Hutchinson solicited the guidance of Professors Chad Emmett and Richard Jackson and, with their help, researched the region and created a master plan for the redevelopment and reconstruction of communities in the Aceh province. After handing over the redevelopment plan to Overton, Hutchinson travelled to Indonesia in late 2005 to scout locations for the planned reconstruction.
According to Hutchinson, the popular adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” is just as applicable to one’s physical environment as it is to time management.
“Good planning can lead to a more functional community,” he says. “People are happier. Communities are safer. Everyone has the opportunity to live healthier and more prosperous lives. Bad planning, on the other hand, can lead to lost opportunities—or in the case of Aceh Province in Indonesia, the loss of over 100,000 lives.”
As the project was underway, funding for the redevelopment of Aceh stopped and was redirected toward domestic efforts in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina—putting Hutchinson’s involvement in Southeast Asia on hold. Although he continued researching the redevelopment of Indonesia, Hutchinson did not pursue a career in international development. Instead, he found that his experiences opened up additional international career opportunities. “BYU provided me with a gateway to exploring the world,” he explains.
After graduating from BYU, Hutchinson went on to earn a master’s degree in environmental planning from the University of Tasmania and spent eight years working as a planning consultant throughout Tasmania and South Australia. He has since earned a second master’s in real estate development from the University of Utah and has relocated to Sydney, Australia, where he manages LDS church properties throughout the northern part of the state of New South Wales.
Since his experiences in Indonesia, Hutchinson has maintained a strong interest in the Asia/Pacific region and has traveled to most countries. His favorites include Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. “A real highlight of traveling to these countries has been the opportunity to see first-hand how people do so much with so little in some of the most densely populated and impoverished areas on earth,” he says.
Hutchinson is grateful for the personal revelation that has led him to many opportunities abroad. “I have learned that the Lord presents us with an array of exciting new challenges and opportunities, if we just trust in Him and have the courage to accept change in our lives,” he says. “Everything I have done since going on a mission and attending BYU has been a result of allowing the Lord to guide my life and having the courage to follow impressions.”
Reflecting on his time at BYU, Hutchinson advises current students to take advantage of every opportunity, from course offerings and activities to weekly devotionals. And, drawing from his other favorite BYU motto, Hutchinson says, “When you go forth to serve, go forward with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.”
—Melissa Barber Garrison ('16)