Construction, Ballroom Dance, and Finding Balance

Imagine a construction worker. What image comes to your mind? Probably not a ballroom dancing college student, but that’s the life of Robert Safsten.

How did Safsten end up with such a diverse resume? When he was young his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After his parents’ divorce, she became his primary support system. Tragically, she passed away shortly after Safsten returned from his mission. Her death was understandably difficult for Safsten. “My mom had been terminally ill since I was in elementary school, so we knew the day was coming,” Safsten explains, “but you’re never ready for it.” It also left him to finance his education on his own.

To pay for his schooling, Safsten starting working construction in early 2015. Knowing that “there’s really no fallback plan. [If] I don’t get a degree, there’s nowhere to go,” Safsten works hard to make enough money, usually 55 to 60 hours a week during the summer.  During the school year, Safsten then balances work with his studies.

Two things help Safsten take a little of the pressure off. The first is a replenishment grant from BYU. The grant is funded by donors and stipulates that Safsten must donate an equal amount back when he becomes financially secure. Safsten’s second stress reliever is dancing for the BYU Ballroom Dance Team. With all the stress from relationships, work, and studies, ballroom dance brings physical and figurative balance Safsten’s schedule. Though his calendar is full, Safsten finds time for what matters. “There’s only so much time in a day and there’s so much to do,” Safsten says, talking about how he’s learned to utilize small portions of downtime to finish assignments, rather than peruse social media. In this way is able to work on his degree and keep his sanity.  

One of the biggest things Safsten has learned from his experiences? “Don’t forget the little details.” While this was a lesson he initially learned from dancing, Safsten has found it applies to life in general. While it can be easy to dismiss small things, Safsten says that, in all things, from school projects to construction work to relationships, “The little things do add up.”


Full Name: 
Robert Safsten
Engineering and Technology
Construction and Facilities Management
Replenishment Grant Recipient
Brittany Vance (BA '16)...
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