Notable USU Alumni

With nearly 200,000 alumni living in the United States and more than 100 countries around the globe, Utah State University Aggies are making an impact.

Sawyer Hemsley

Sawyer Hemsley

B.S., Communication Studies, ’18

Originally from Preston, Idaho, Sawyer Hemsley moved to Logan, Utah in 2012 to attend Utah State University. Sawyer’s passion for cookies and people led to the beginning of the cookie empire, Crumbl Cookies, in 2017. A year later, he earned his bachelor’s degree at USU in communication studies with minors in marketing and multimedia development.

Community has always been extremely important to Sawyer, and he made the most of his USU experience by serving with USUSA and the A-Team.

Today, Sawyer sits as Crumbl’s COO and company visionary, with his cousin, Crumbl co-founder Jason McGowen, serving as CEO. In the four years since Crumbl was born, it has expanded to more than 200 bakery locations throughout 32 states. The company saw 93% growth from 2020-2021 and went viral on TikTok with fans sharing videos throughout the country.

Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner

B.S., Entrepreneurship, ’12

California-native Bobby Wagner is Utah State University’s newest NFL Hall of Fame inductee. He and Merlin Olsen are the only Aggies ever to be named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team.

He was only rated a “two-star recruit” following his senior year of high school, but Wagner has gone on to prove those ratings don’t equate successful careers in collegiate or professional football. In his time with USU, Wagner led the Western Athletic Conference in tackles and was a three-time first-team all WAC selection. He finished his junior season with 446 tackles — tied for the most in Utah State history.

The linebacker was drafted to the NFL in 2012 by the Seattle Seahawks, where he’s started ever since. He was named the First-Team All-Pro six times, led the NFL tackles twice, been named to the Pro Bowl seven times, and is the two-time record holder for tackles in the franchise’s history. Wagner fought for his Super Bowl ring in 2013’s win against the Denver Broncos.

Wagner used his business-savvy to self-negotiate a $54 million contract with the Seahawks in 2019. He has consistently been highlighted on the NFL’s Top 100 Player lists.

Jaycee Carroll

B.A., Spanish, ’08

From his hometown in Evanston, Wyoming, to Madrid, Spain, Jaycee Carroll has dominated basketball courts internationally. The 6-foot-2 guard moved to Logan, Utah, to play for the Aggies in 2004 and maintained a reputation as a point-leader in college as well as professionally.

In his senior season with the Aggies, Carroll was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He rounded out his tenure as an Aggie with a 49.8% three-point average — the best in the country. He came in second for free throws (91.9%) and was ranked No. 13 in scoring nationally — setting the record at Utah State. He is the second Aggie the Associated Press has named All-American (along with Wayne Estes) and the only Aggie to have been named All-American twice.

Following graduation, Carroll moved overseas to play in the European courts. His professional career started with Teramo Basket in the Italian Serie A until 2009. He was able to dust off his Spanish when he moved to Spain to play for Club Baloncesto Gran Canaria until 2011. Then he played for 10 years with Real Madrid where he was a three-time Spanish League Champion, two-time EuroLeague Champion, and FIBA International Cup Champion.

Sam & Kacie Malouf

Sam & Kacie Malouf

Sam: M.S., Accounting, ’04 & Kacie: B.S., Music Therapy, ’03

Sam and Kacie Malouf met while attending Utah State University. From when the couple founded their bedding company Malouf as newlyweds in 2003, to becoming a certified B Corporation in 2016 with hundreds of employees, the Maloufs have focused on being responsible — socially, environmentally, and civically — as can be seen in their investment in solar energy and eco-friendly products, plus their humanitarian work.

Malouf designs, manufactures, and distributes a wide range of innovative products, which are available online, in more than 15,000 retail locations across the United States, and at a growing number of international specialty sleep stores in more than 30 countries. It also has on-staff charity managers who oversee the many charitable initiatives Malouf participates in and organize employees so they can use their unique skills to help people in need.

In 2016, the Maloufs created the non-profit Malouf Foundation to raise awareness of and ultimately put an end to domestic human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Spencer Cox

Spencer Cox

B.A., Political Science, ’98

Spencer Cox has worn many hats, but his love of Utah runs through all.

His farming roots have shown through his time as an attorney, businessman, and in various political roles from city council to mayor all the way to the 18th governor of the state of Utah.

Cox returned to Utah and began his law career at Salt Lake City’s Fabian Clendenin. After a while, his rural roots called to him, and he moved back to his hometown with his wife and children to work at the family business: CentraCom to bring internet and connectedness to underserved areas of the state.

He worked his way up the public service until he served as Lieutenant Governor under Gov. Gary Herbert before his own gubernatorial run started in 2021. He has made compassion and rural statewide initiatives a priority so none in Utah feel forgotten, while also balancing environmental and water rights with conservation initiatives.

Greg Carr

Greg Carr

B.S., History, ’82

Having made his fortune revolutionizing the telecommunications industry with his company Boston Technology, and later with Prodigy Inc., established the Gregory C. Carr Foundation in 1999, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "the environment, human rights, and the arts.” The foundation's current focus is on protecting and preserving Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, South Africa.

Carr also helped to form the Museum of Idaho, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz

M.S., Instructional Technology, ’82

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz transformed educational policy and practice in Saudi Arabia becoming a symbol of female leadership in the Islamic world.

Al-Faiz was appointed vice minister for girls’ education in 2009, the highest ministerial rank reached by a woman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The appointment was a significant indicator of the broadening role for women in politics and education in Saudi Arabia.

Gary E. Stevenson

Gary E. Stevenson

B.S., Business Administration, ’79

Gary E. Stevenson was sustained to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 3, 2015. At the time of his call to the Twelve, he had been serving as the Presiding Bishop of the church since April 2012.

After graduating from Utah State University in 1979 with a degree in business administration, Gary successfully cofounded exercise equipment manufacturing company, ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., where he served as president and chief operating officer until 2008.

Gary has been very involved with USU, serving as a board member of the President's National Advisory Council, the Alumni Association Board and the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business National Advisory Board.

A Utah native, Gary was born in Ogden. He married Lesa Jean Higley in April 1979. They are the parents of four sons and have four grandchildren.

Mary Cleave

Mary Louise Cleave

M.S., Biology, ’75; Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering, ’80

After completing a master’s of science in microbial ecology in 1975 and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering four years later — both from USU — Mary Louise Cleave aced an interview with NASA in Houston and was approved to be an astronaut in May 1980, at the age of 33.

She worked in several other posts as an engineer for NASA on the ground before becoming a veteran of two space flights — one in 1985, the other in 1989. She was one of the first 10 U.S. women to travel to space.

Lars Hansen

Lars Peter Hansen

B.S., Mathematics, ’74, B.S. Political Science, ’74

Nobel Prize-winning economist Lars Peter Hansen is a scholar, researcher and author. Dr. Hansen shared the 2013 Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel with two other economists for their analysis of asset prices. He developed a statistical method to test the links between financial markets and the macroeconomy that is now used within all economics research.

A mainstay on the University of Chicago economics faculty since that time, Dr. Hansen has received many accolades for his teaching and research at the institution. He currently serves as the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics and is the inaugural Research Director for the Becker-Friedman Institute.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Elizabeth Dowdeswell

M.S., Behavioral Sciences, ’72

V. Elizabeth Dowdeswell is the current lieutenant governor of Ontario, the 29th since Canadian Confederation. She is the viceregal representative of the Queen in Right of Ontario.

A graduate of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Dowdeswell began her professional career as a teacher and university lecturer and has a deep interest in CEHS and its interdisciplinary approach. Along with her current role for Ontario and former position with the United Nations, Lt. Governor Dowdeswell’s experience includes serving as founding president and CEO of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, former assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada, adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, and several honorary degrees from various Canadian and European universities. USU awarded her an honorary doctorate in the mid-90s.

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

B.S., Finance, ’62

NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen is considered the greatest athlete in Utah State University history.

Olsen’s outstanding record on both college and NFL football fields was followed by successful careers as a beloved television actor and as a television sports commentator. He is remembered also as a tireless philanthropist, giving enormous amounts of time, talent, and financial resources to numerous causes across the country.

A native of Logan, Utah, Olsen was a two-time All-American (1960-61) as a defensive lineman at Utah State and won the 1961 Outland Trophy as the nation's outstanding interior lineman.

As the second player selected in the 1962 National Football League Draft, Olsen became a charter member of the Los Angeles Rams, and the famed "Fearsome Foursome." In 15 pro seasons, he was named to an NFL record 14 Pro Bowls. Olsen was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1962 and was the league's Most Valuable Lineman in 1973. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and earned a spot on Sports Illustrated's all-time NFL team.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

B.S., Political Science and History, ’61

Utah State University may seem a long way from world Capitol Hill, but over the years, it’s proven itself a reliable way to get there.

A rural Nevada boy named Harry Reid liked what he saw at USU, and used his political science and history double major to vault him into a successful career in the United States Senate. After finishing a degree at USU, Senator Reid went on to receive a law degree from George Washington University.

The people of Nevada elected Reid to the U.S. Congress in 1982 and to the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he has since become one of the most influential politicians in the nation's capital. Reid is one of only three senators to have served as senate majority leader for at least eight years. His current senate term ends in January 2017.

Ardeshir Zahedi

Ardeshir Zahedi

B.S., Animal Science, '50

Ardeshir Zahedi has spent his entire life in the service of his country and other people. Zahedi achieved a reputation as a leader and became one of the most influential ambassadors in Washington, D.C.

Zahedi left his home in Iran to study at Utah State University in 1947. He received a bachelor’s in animal science from USU’s College of Agriculture in 1950. After completing his education at Utah State, Zahedi returned to Iran where he was appointed chamberlain to His Majesty, the Shah, and assistant to the prime minister. His foreign diplomatic career began in 1959 when he became Iran’s Ambassador to the United States where he enjoyed the confidence of the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations.

May Swenson

May Swenson

B.S., English, ’34

Before she became one of America’s best contemporary poets, before she was named a Literary Lion by the New York City Public Library, before she received a MacArthur (genius) grant, May Swenson was an Aggie. A 1934 graduate of USU’s English department, Swenson gave us a new perspective on the human condition, death, sexuality and the art of poetry.

Despite her international success and reputation as a progressive thinker who discovered her own path, it is evident in Swenson’s written work that her family and Cache Valley roots were sincerely important to her. She remained true to the different components of her heritage and personal identity.

Mignon Barker Richmond

Mignon Barker Richmond

B.S., Home Living, Textiles, and Foods, ’21

The first African-American to graduate from a college in Utah, Mignon Barker Richmond served a lifetime as a leader and activist in her community. During her time at the UAC she was a member of the Empyrean Club, a group of college women devoted to furthering discussion of important current problems, and served as its secretary-treasurer during her senior year.

Although credentialed, Mignon was refused work as a teacher because of racial discrimination. In 1948, 27 years after graduating from college, Mignon finally had the opportunity for employment in her field when she was hired to start the school lunch program for Stewart School at the University of Utah. Five years later, she was hired to develop home-living classes at the Utah State Industrial School, an Ogden youth-correctional facility. In 1957, she became the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Food Services Director in Salt Lake City, a position she held until her retirement in 1962 at age 65.