UVU Grad Nick Varney Plans to Pursue a Education Policy

UVU Grad Nick Varney Plans to Pursue a Education Policy

Nicholas Varney, an outstanding graduate from the history and political science department, has always known that he wanted to pursue a career in education policy. And for him, that meant pursuing a degree in history education — with a healthy side of political science classes.

Varney decided to attend UVU after a presentation at his high school’s college fair. “I was blown away by UVU’s unrelenting commitment to student success,” he said. “I came to UVU because I really wanted to be a part of the engaged learning model.”

While Varney excelled academically during his time at UVU, he recommends looking outside of the classroom for even more learning opportunities. “Definitely don’t limit yourself to just taking classes. Some of the professors in this department are working on some awesome projects and could use your help. Your time working with them outside of class will be more impactful to your professional lives than you can imagine.”

During his time at UVU, Varney took that advice to heart, participating in multiple high-impact projects with the encouragement of his mentor, Luke Peterson. In 2016 he was the legislative intern for the state superintendent of public instruction. And in 2017, he was sent to the National Governor's Association to work with and shadow their education policy staff.

2018 was one of Varney’s busiest years — he was selected as a Stanford University Innovation Fellow. He received formal training in design thinking from Stanford faculty, worked for VP of University Relations Cameron Martin as a presidential intern, and worked with State Representative Jefferson Moss to create a center for innovation in K-12 education for the state of Utah.

But his extracurricular activities didn’t stop there. Varney was also a part of a team for the Office of New Urban Mechanics, that competed in Oxford's Map the System Global Challenge, placing first in the U.S. and making it to the top six out of 470 global teams.

In 2019, Varney was 1 of 23 students selected by the Stanford UIF program directors to help mentor new fellows at the Silicon Valley Meetup. As a mentor, he presented at Google about the importance of relationships within systems in front of 350 students and faculty from 97 different institutions in 17 countries and participated in a panel attended by over 40 faculty and future educators on innovation in education. Varney also continued to work with the governor's office and Representative Moss during the legislative session to strengthen the economics curriculum in all high schools throughout the state. 

Now that he’s graduated, Varney will spend his summer interning for Governor Herbert’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer. He’ll continue teaching U.S. and world history at Westlake High School for two more years, after which he plans to earn a graduate degree in education policy.

“I believe that education should be relevant, engaging, and transformative,” said Varney. “I want to actively work with students and professionals from around the world to create content, programs, and policies that prepare students to thrive in our 21st-century economy.”

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