Editor’s note: Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.
An Orem woman is asking for help from her community to complete a list of 40 things she wants to experience before her 40th birthday.
While in quarantine, Camille Jensen drafted a list of 40 things she wanted to do before she turned 40 years old, with some of them being very minor and others being a bit more out of the box.
“I’m finally to that point in my life where it’s like I’m going to be me, I’m going to do me,” she said.
Most of the list involves places she wants to visit, but a few items on the list require a bit more creativity and a little help from the community, including working a shift at a doughnut shop, experiencing what it’s like to work at a tire store, and learning how to drive a tractor.
The wife and mother works throughout the week as a Realtor and comes homes to spend time with her children and pets, including a beagle, a husky and a rabbit.
Jensen said that with her love for animals and the outdoors, she believes she should have been a farmer, and she doesn’t want to miss out on experiencing everything she’s ever dreamed, including learning how to drive a tractor.
Every weekday while Jensen was driving her child to school, she would pass by a tractor store near Springville, and everyday she would see the tractors and think about how fun it would be to drive one. Not like a joy ride, she said, but to actually use the tractor in a productive way.
On Wednesday, Jensen put out a post on a local Facebook group asking it anyone was willing to teach her how to drive a tractor.
“This is going to sound silly,” she wrote in the post. “I am turning 40 in October, and all I want is to find someone who will teach me to drive a tractor in a field. Yes. You read correctly. I just want to drive a big John Deere before my 40th. Can anyone help me find a good-natured farmer who is willing to make my birthday dreams come true?”
Although the post received over 20 comments, the perfect teacher came from one of the most unlikely of places: a previous client.
Jensen said she turned to the internet because she didn’t think anyone in her personal life had the skill, resources or time to teach her, but within 24 hours of her post going up, a date had been set.
“They’re going to have me cut hay that day,” she said. “Like, they’re actually putting me to work. I’m thrilled beyond words. It’s going to be fun.”
The list stemmed from Jensen’s desire to live life like everyday is her last with the goal of experiencing everything she’s ever wanted to do.
“If I can do these weird activities, make other people smile, bring joy to their life and show them that they can also do the same — spread their wings and do whatever it is that they really want to do — then I’ve served my mission in life,” Jensen said.
Not long ago, Jensen learned she had Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.
The disease is caused by bacteria that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash called erythema migrans, but if left untreated the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
“It’s progressing, and so I can kind of see the importance of not just turning 40 but also out of life,” she said. “I just want to live every day to its absolute fullest.”
Since her diagnosis, Jensen has adopted the philosophy of “always find joy, always spread joy,” using the phrase as her compass and motivator through each and every day.
Jensen said she absolutely recommends other residents drafting lists of their own, not just for their own mental health but for the general quality of life within their communities.
“Break out of your comfort zone and inspire joy in others,” she said. “Learn to find joy in other nonconventional ways for yourself. The happier you are, you’re going to exude that in the community and heal the world.”
Jensen’s list of 40 things to do before her 40th birthday includes:
Jensen’s 40th birthday is Oct. 6.
Mental health and wellness for kids and adults are the goals driving Geneva Yoga, a nonprofit organization based in Provo. Next month, the organization will be partnering with Provo Recreation to help community members to increase their health in these areas.
Geneva Yoga provides yoga and meditation classes for kids, teens and others to aid in mental wellness. The organization’s founder, Beth Williams, a former special education teacher, has worked with students with special needs who had difficulty regulating their emotions. These experiences caused her to look for ways to help them.
About four years ago, she began practicing yoga and found that it produced profound benefits for mental health.
“I couldn’t figure out why I felt so good after a yoga class,” she said. “I would tell my friends, ‘I don’t know why, but I feel good all day.’
“Yoga is an ancient system of turning your attention toward yourself and tuning into your experience right now,” Williams said. “People find there is a peace there.
“One time when I was practicing yoga, I had the most beautiful thought,” she said.
That thought was that through the practice of yoga, she could help children and teens to combat depression, anxiety and possibly help to decrease suicide in Utah. That is when she got the idea to start Geneva Yoga.
The name “Geneva Yoga” comes partially from Williams’ great-grandmother. According to Geneva Yoga’s website, http://genevayogautah.com, Geneva had grit and courage and lived through many hardships. “Her spirit imbibes Geneva Yoga, with the perfect mix of encouragement, kindness, intelligence and perseverance,” it reads. Williams said that she feels that her great-grandmother called her on this path to helping others through yoga and meditation.
“It is a fantastic way for people to access peace,” Williams said. “Yoga is accessible to everyone.”
Williams began holding kids’ yoga classes in her backyard, but she wanted to reach those who don’t have the opportunities to attend classes.
“We can access the most youth if we go to where the kids are,” she said. The organization now partners with schools and community organizations to bring yoga practice to youth.
Last year, Geneva Yoga held morning classes at Lakeview Elementary in Provo for children in grades kindergarten through sixth and held a yoga club at Provo High School.
“The kids’ yoga classes are really fun and really imaginative, with breathing techniques built in,” Williams said. These are practices that the children can carry over into their lives.
“If things are not going well at their homes, this is what they can do,” Williams said.
Provo’s Mental Health Awareness Week will be held Sept. 12–19. On both Sept. 12 and 19, several free classes will be held, including beginning yoga, gentle yoga, meditation and kids’ yoga. Throughout the week, Geneva Yoga will be holding free yoga classes at local parks. For a full schedule, check out Provo Recreation’s Facebook page.
Utah Valley University has received numerous recognitions over the years. Now it has been ranked third in the nation for the best return on investment by Business Insider.
Business Insider, an American financial and business news website, produced the ranking from a list of four-year, bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities across the country.
“Students who attend school at UVU can count on an affordable, quality education and a significant return on their education,” said President Astrid S. Tuminez in a UVU statement. “Business Insider’s No. 3 ranking is evidence of UVU’s commitment to maintaining affordability and accessibility to students, especially to those from traditionally underrepresented groups in the university’s service region.”
Business Insider determines the return on investment by a ratio of earnings to the average cost of attendance. According to the ranking, UVU’s return on investment is 84.7%.
The average UVU undergraduate earns $43,800 within 10 years of graduating, and the average annual cost to attend the school is $12,921, according to Insider data.
As the only public university in Utah to be ranked by Business Insider, UVU prepares students to find employment in what the Utah Department of Workforce Services calls well-compensated, four- and-five-star jobs, including in mechatronics, robotic technologies and electrical automation.
In addition, the length of UVU’s economic impact has proven itself over time, with 85% of UVU students living in Utah a year after graduation and 76% living in Utah 10 years after graduation, according to the school.
UVU is the largest institution by head count in the Utah System of Higher Education and recorded its largest graduating class in school history with 6,410 graduates in 2020.
It is the 14th-largest employer in Utah and third-largest employer in Utah County, serving as a state and regional economic engine that pumps money into the economy with a solid 8:1 return on investment — every tax dollar invested in UVU has an $8 impact on the local economy, according to Insider.
Utah Valley University is one of a few higher education institutions in the nation that offer an integrated dual-mission model, which combines the prestige of a four-year university with the accessibility of a community college.
UVU’s unique model, which focuses on student success, engaged learning, rigorous academic programs and faculty-mentored research, is transforming higher education by making it more affordable and accessible to students of all backgrounds.