Tips for Surviving Finals


It’s the end of the semester; in a matter of days you’ll be free to binge watch The Crown, go visit your family, and sleep. But there’s one thing you have to do first: survive finals. Long, stressful, draining finals. But they don’t have to be that bad. We in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences want to help you get through these emotionally exhausting times. So, we present to you eight tips for surviving finals, as suggested by various FHSS students on Twitter, and learned by experience.

Tip #1: Pack Snacks

When you’re hungry you can’t focus. And when you can’t focus, you can’t study. And if you can’t study, you fail. Nobody wants that. But be sure to keep the snacks healthy. While caffeine can keep you awake, the crash can kill any chance you have of doing well. So whether you’re burrowed in the library or camped out at home, just remember that one apple can mean the difference between an A and a B.


Tip #2: Sleep

Recommended by FHSS student Samantha Hawkins, who says:

You retain more and test better when you’ve had enough sleep. Don’t overdo it, but don’t cut yourself short either.


Tip #3: Stay off electronics.

Unless, of course, you’re using them to study. But stay as far away from Netflix, apps, and social media as you can! Think you’ll go on Instagram  just for a minute to see if T-Swizzle posted something about her cats? Wrong! Four hours later and you’re on Facebook stalking some random dude you knew in middle school. Trust me, non-study related internet use is a bigger waste of your time than the new Ghostbusters.


Tip #4: Go outside.

Every few hours, take some time to poke your head outside. Leave whatever cramped corner of the library you’re currently living in and go take a walk. Do a lap around the WILK. Climb the RB stairs. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you do will help wake you up and clear your head, two things you need if you want to study efficiently and test well. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll end up just like Spongebob.


Tip #5: Take an hour to relax.

Take some time for yourself. Take a hot bath, watch your favorite movie, jam out to your music. Obviously, don’t make this a day(s) long affair- just let yourself breathe for an hour. (Unless of course, you’re two days away from finals and have just started studying.) This will lower your stress and help you focus.


Tip #6: Before the Test,Wake up early.

This gives you some time for the last minute cram sesh. It also allows you to get to the testing center (or wherever your test is) early. This will help you relax and feel more prepared. Besides, who wants to wake up late and have to run to the testing center?


Tip #7: Calm down.

You can do this. You’ve prepared and you’re going to kick this test in the butt.


Tip #8: After the Finals,Congratulate Yourself.  

You’re done! Yay! And you learned so much! (Hopefully)


Good luck!

What do You do to Prepare for Finals?

GIFs courtesy of

Faculty News: Dr. Sarah Loose: Historian and Humanitarian

loose-sarahAn examination of history—particularly medieval times, which were rife with war, famine, and plague—wouldn’t necessarily lead one to focus on practices of aiding the poor and other forms of charity, but to Sarah Loose, a new professor of History at BYU, they naturally go together. Poor relief and charity “[provide] a window onto a lot of different aspects of society,” she says. By studying them, she can research political relations, religion, social history, and how they all tie into each other.

Dr. Loose graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s in History in 2002, then a masters of Arts in European History in 2007,  and a Doctorate from the University of Toronto in the history of Late Middle Europe, 1050-1494 a.d., in 2013. Her dissertation described the network of charity that existed around a hospital in Siena, Italy during the sixteenth century. She has spoken, published, and written primarily about civic humanism and politics in Renaissance Italy. Because of these academic interests, Dr. Loose is fluent in Italian and can read in French and Latin. She is also a part of the Renaissance Society of America, the American Historical Association, the Canadian Society for Italian Studies, and the Sixteenth Century Society.

Before coming back to BYU, the historian taught a variety of Renaissance and medieval history courses from 2014-2016 St. Jerome’s University and the University of Toronto. Of her Alma Mater, Dr. Loose said, “BYU is in my family blood.” Truly, she is correct: her father is a competitive swimming coach at the university, three of the five children in her family are alumni, and both her grandparents and parents met at the Y.

Currently, Dr. Loose is teaching History 300, Early Middle Ages and History 201, World Civilization to 1500. Her “great experience as a student” at BYU contributed to her applying for the position of professor. She wanted to come back to her alma mater and be closer to her family that lives in Utah.  Her goals in the classroom are to “[help] students understand and see the past in a new way.” As they learn and gain these perspectives, she hopes to in turn learn from them.





Student News: Even You Can Help Refugees, Right Now

Owing to an increase of global unrest, we have heard much about the global refugee crisis.  Because our country is not physically connected to the countries most affected by this unrest (like Europe, which is connected to the Middle East where many refugees are fleeing from), we mistakenly assume that there is nothing we can do to really help.  This assumption is incorrect.  There is more you can do than just donate money to refugees in Europe. There are refugees here in the United States. There are refugees struggling in Utah. Dr. Stacey Shaw, one of our new professors and a collaborator with the International Rescue Committee, says that the IRC resettled 1,245 people as refugees in Utah in its last fiscal year. The main countries of origin for these people were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Burma, Syria, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sudan, Eritrea, Burundi, Central African Republic, and Iran. Most of them are being resettled in Salt Lake County and a few are going to Ogden, but agencies are also considering possibilities for resettlement in Utah County and St. George. She advocates, as do others, helping them, not only because of their obvious need but also out of sheer empathy.

“If we could see, hear, smell, touch, and feel what people are experiencing, I believe we would live differently,” she says. “[Like] Cecilia Razovsky, who was a great advocate for refugee resettlement and services during World War II when Americans were resistant to immigration in ways that are very similar to what is happening today, [we should recognize that], ‘When you are asked to help in the cause, bear these things in mind and say with others- There but for the grace of God, go I!’ Elizabeta Jevtic-Somlai, visiting professor of political science, adds, in a recent BYU Magazine article, “Look at refugees as human beings, not as a service project. If you want to extend yourself, be a real friend and be there. Do small, consistent acts rather than a one-time project. Really assess, ‘What can I do?’ and ‘What am I willing to do?’ If you can do more, a practical way to help is to create opportunities for self-reliance.”

For that very purpose, a club has been organized at BYU, to help BYU students empower refugees.

Join the Refugee Empowerment Club

14495385_615473538613308_7091328931985394175_nThe Refugee Empowerment Club offers students the opportunity to become aware of the refugee crisis in Utah and around the globe.  It also gives students opportunities to serve refugees.  The goal of the club is to change the community in to a more understanding, unified, and empowering place to thrive. Dr. Shaw said of the club, “It is great to see students interested in learning more about refugee issues and finding ways to serve.”

Students Norma Villenueva and Rachel McAllister created the club to help students know where to start in supporting refugees.

“We realized there wasn’t one source for students who want to get involved in refugee resettlement and the issues with that,” says McAllister, “So we started researching and compiling those resources and were connected with some other individuals who wanted to create a formal organization.” The Refugee Empowerment Club meets twice a month on Wednesdays in the FLAC in the basement of the JFSB.  One meeting will be the speaker series (mentioned below). The other meeting is an involvement activity. The club helped with the Spice Kitchen Incubator project for the International Refugee Committee.  They also had a refugee cultural night. The club’s involvement activities are chosen based on the refugee’s current needs and the interests of the club members. The Refugee Empowerment Club has the following events in the works:

  • a cultural night in collaboration with SID on Thursday, November 17
  • a refugee-run catering service where participants can buy the cultural foods sold by refugees
  • an evening to write letters to Congress and the UN to urge better human rights practices related to refugee resettlement
  • a benefit concert to raise money for refugees (Fall 2017)

The Refugee Empowerment Club will begin a speaker series about the refugee crisis.  In the series, a member of main organizations in refugee resettlement and assistance in Utah, or refugees themselves, speak about specific refugee issues, their organization, and how to get involved.  The first speaker will be the director of the Women of the World organization, Samira Harnish.  She will speak about what it’s like to be a refugee, and especially the experience of female refugees.  Harnish’s speech will be on November 30 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Kennedy Center’s main conference room.

chain-690088_1280If participating in any of the club’s activities is not a possibility for you, you could consider these opportunities as well:


De Lamar Jensen Lecture: The Ottoman Empire and How It Relates to Us

Despite what many assume, history is not just about the past. It’s about giving us the knowledge to understand the present and predict the future. This is exactly what Dr. Virginia Aksan illustrated through her presentation on October 27th.jensenlectureflyer_v4

BYU History Department Chair Eric Dursteler once said, “As historians, we look to the past to understand the present.” This served as the opening to the annual De Lamar Jensen Lecture, which is funded by and named after the esteemed former BYU professor.  This year’s distinguished lecturer was Dr. Virginia Aksan, who is a retired McMaster University History professor specializing in Ottoman History from the 1700’s to the early 1800’s. As such, her lecture was focused on that topic and how it relates to contemporary times.

History student Madelyn Lunnen attended the lecture. She says: “Dr. Aksan spoke passionately about the Turks and the Napoleonic War. Her eyes lit up as she expounded on their various rulers and changes made to the civilization.” Without a doubt, the Ottoman Empire is a very specific topic, one that will not appeal to everyone.

Modern Implications

However, that does not mean that it is not applicable to us today. The Ottoman Empire later dissolved into what is now known as Turkey and parts of several other nations. It may be argued that our relationship with the country is paramount, as they are a part of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the UN, and are being considered as a potential addition to the EU. The US State Department describes our relationship with the country thus: “The U.S.-Turkey partnership is based on mutual interests and mutual respect and is focused on areas such as regional security and stability, as well as economic cooperation.”

Map Courtesy of GeoPolitical Futures

Despite this positive depiction of our friendship with Turkey, their president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in an interview with 60 Minutes indicated the opposite: “Well, let me be very frank in my remarks. I wouldn’t speak the truth if I said I was not disillusioned, because I am disillusioned.” He spoke on the the US’s involvement in Syria. According to Erdoğan, the US’s actions in Syria have led to an increased number of refugees (almost 3 million) coming to Turkey, hindered his ability to guard his country, and created a threat on his Southern border.

Because of Turkey’s close proximity to Syria and the Middle East, the U.S. maintains military bases in Turkey. To the extent that the U.S. still actively seeks to counteract the international threat that ISIS poses as the perpetrator of 1,200 deaths, a mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey would enable the U.S to maintain its counter-terrorism efforts in that part of the world, and perhaps the alleviation of Erdoğan’s concerns regarding the number of refugees in his country.

Erdoğan, like Aksan, reveres the Ottomon Empire as one of the oldest and longest lasting in human history. He has, in fact, stated that he would like to take his country back to the time when they were the most powerful nation in the world, to the time of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it is crucial that we understand what that empire was and its significance. This will aid us in repairing our relationship with Turkey and continuing our fight against terrorism.

Did You Attend the De Lamar Jensen Lecture?

Alumni News: For Those Who Are Graduating Soon

For students graduating at the end of this or next semester, there is perhaps a wide gamut of emotions they’ll experience. Excitement, to be sure, the beginnings of nostalgia, perhaps, and anticipation or invigoration at the prospect of being out in the world and giving back to humanity after years as a dependent. They may look forward to walking down the “Stairs of Death” on the south side of campus one final time, degree in hand, but for them to say goodbye to BYU forever would be crazy, to an extent. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has an ever-growing alumni community 70,000 members strong, and that community is far too valuable a resource to not take advantage of. Here are three specific reasons you should stay connected after you graduate:

1: Networking


A college graduate with no reliable network is ill-equipped to handle the professional world, but by keeping in touch with the alums of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, he or she can find opportunities to investigate careers, mentors, and job leads. Dee Allsop, a member of the College’s National Advisory Council and a former president of the BYU Alumni Association, said: “[The spirit of the Y] needs to be cultivated in the communities where people live—not just in their cities, but in their professional, global, and social communities as well.” Whether you check in with your department alumni groups online (see our list below); follow other alumni on our website or through the RISE alumni story index, subscribe to our alumni magazine, or connect on LinkedIn, there are so many easy ways to stay connected.



School of Family Life

Family History Majors

FHSS Advisement Center

Political Science

solo-violinist-1625307_12802: Performing Arts Discounts

BYU’s award-winning fine arts programs generously give discounts to alumni for most of their performances! These events are perfect for date night or just a regular fun time.







3: Insurance

Adulthood is expensive, and insurance is one of the most relentless costs. But the BYU Alumni Insurance program is a convenient source for life insurance for alumni and their family members. Furthermore, the BYU Alumni Association offers three different health insurance plans for its alumni–for information on joining these programs, call toll-free at 1-800-922-1245. In addition, special group discount rates are available on Auto and Home insurance through Liberty Mutual–call toll-free at (800) 526-1547 for more details.







Win Prizes in our Instagram Photo Contest: What’s Your Connection?

BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is all about connections—in and between families, societies, political systems, lands, and even between the past and the present! That’s why we call our annual magazine Connections. And we want to connect better with you! We want to learn about some of the unique ways that you connect, and not just with your WiFi. Connections can be made in many different ways and with many different things or people. Doing family history can connect you with your ancestors.  Rotating weekly cooking arrangements that let you eat together can connect you with your roommates. Taking a morning walk every day may be your key for reconnecting with nature. Connections are everywhere! Show us who or what you connect with on our Instagram page (@byufhss), and you could win some amazing prizes, like a $50 Visa gift card (that you can use anywhere) or a $30 gift basket from the BYU Store!

 “My Connections” Instagram Photo Contest

Your photo should depict a connection of some kind. You may choose to focus on a connection with

  • your community
  • your heritage
  • your education
  • your environment
  • your family
  • your friends or roommates

Like our page to see all the photos submitted last year. Think outside of the box and be creative. You may not even recognize something you do as a means of connection until you take the time to stop and think. Two winners will be chosen. Each individual may enter one photo to the contest. The photo must be an original one you took.

Last year’s winning photo

To Be Eligible For This Contest You Must:

  1. Have an Instagram account
  2. Follow @byufhss on Instagram.

You don’t have to be a BYU student to enter, but you do need to post only BYU-appropriate content.

How to Enter the Contest:

  1. Post a picture on Instagram, between November 23rd and December 2 with the following:
    • A caption that describes the significance of the photo and how what is happening in the photo helps you connect
    • Tag @byufhss
    • Include #byufhssconnect in the caption
    • Encourage your followers to vote for your picture between December 5th and 7th.

Contest Timeline:

Entries will not be accepted after 11:59 p.m. on December 2nd.

Voting: On Monday, December 5th, five of the best photos will be chosen and announced on our @byufhss Instagram page. This decision will be based on creativity, aesthetic appeal, and relevance to the theme. Popular voting, which will be done by liking or commenting on the photos, will begin on this day.

Voting will determine 1st and 2nd place out of the top five, and will be based on the number of likes each photo receives. “Likes” will ONLY be counted on the photos on the FHSS Instagram (“likes” on individual Instagram accounts will not be considered). Voting will take place between Monday, December 5th and will go until Wednesday, December 7th at 10:00 p.m.

Winners: 1st and 2nd place winners will be announced on Thursday, December 8th!


  • 1st place: a $50 Visa Gift Card (think: Christmas shopping done!)
  • 2nd place: a $30 finals survival kit full of goodies from the BYU Store

*Note: by submitting a photo and entering the contest, the entrant affirms that it is his or her original work, and gives the BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences permission to use it in any of its various communications channels, including but not limited to the annual Connections magazine. You will be given credit.

**This post’s feature photo was last year’s second-place winner

Let’s get gramming!

On Insomnia and Mood Disorders: Dr. Daniel Kay

Gayle Greene, author of Insomniac, describes her experience with insomnia: “I don’t manage this beast, I live with it. I live around it. I bed down with it every night, gingerly, cautiously, careful not to provoke it. I do my best to placate it, domesticate it, dull its claws, avoid its fangs, knowing that at any moment it can pounce on me and tear me to bits.”

kay-danielAccording to National Public Radio, sixty million Americans struggle with insomnia each year. Yet scientists know relatively little about its causes and cures; it is a relatively new field of study. Dr. Daniel Kay, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences’ newest professor in the Psychology Department, has been researching sleep since 2003 with the aim of understanding the relationship between insomnia and mood disorders. He hopes it will lead to new preventative and therapeutic treatments for mood disorders and insomnia.

During his undergraduate at Washington State University, Dr. Kay studied the “local sleep hypothesis,” which is the idea that sleep is regulated in specific regions of the brain rather than across the entire brain. His senior project explored how regionalized sleep disturbance, or the inability of one part of the brain to sleep, related to mental illness.

Dr. Kay currently teaches Intro to Psychology, which he will also teach next semester.  He will teach Research Methods in Psychology next semester as well. He was raised in Independence, MO. He has been married to his beautiful wife, Janene, for 14 years and they have four children, ages 6-12.  If he has an hour of free time, he watches movies.

Welcome Dr. Daniel Kay!

Have you met another new faculty member, Dr. Jon Felt?

Do you have trouble sleeping?


Five Things for Students to do over Thanksgiving Break in Provo

Say you’re a student who will be staying in Provo over Thanksgiving break, due to limited funds, home being too far away, the need to study, or other reasons. But you feel like you need to do something fun, something that will help you catch the spirit of the holidays. Consider these five fun activities around and about town as possibilities:

Play Football at Kiwanis (or any other) Park

This is a tradition you can keep anywhere. So, grab your friends or anyone else who’s in Provo over break, get a football, and duke it out at the park. You can play it for as long or as little as you like. But, if playing football isn’t your thing, you can always watch it on TV. Snow is expected on Thursday, so it could well look like this:



See a Movie

Disney has a long history of releasing films in November- in recent years around Thanksgiving. This year is no exception: Moana is coming out on November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. But if that’s not your style you can also go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, if you haven’t already.



Plan an Escape

Head over to GetOut Games. The premise of this is pretty cool. You go with a group, get locked in a room for 60 minutes, and then solve puzzles to find the way out. Rooms range from Egyptian Tomb to Zombie on Chain. It can be pricey, $14-$20, but if you want to treat yourself (since it is a holiday), it might be a good option to do with friends.



Learn to Cook

Nothing tastes as good as your mom’s cooking, but with a little effort, you can start getting there. Use this time to master the culinary arts so that when you do go home, you can wow your family. Besides, what else are you going to do with the leftovers? You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches…



Get Ready for Christmas (After Thanksgiving)

On Friday, you can bring out the tree and the tinsel. Bake some cookies (see number 4). Dance to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Or, my personal favorite, watch a Christmas movie! Thankfully, you have a ton of options: Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the Hallmark Channel, to name only a few.



What will you do this Thanksgiving?

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.

Fun, Prizes, and Free Stuff: Geography Awareness Week is This Week!

Have you ever wanted to go onto the roof of the SWKT? Do you like competitions and prizes? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then the Geography Department’s Geography Awareness Week is the week-long festivity for you. This is an annual activity meant to make geography fun and interesting for everyone.

The event kicks off on November 14.  Here is a rundown of the week’s activities:


November 14

Repp-ing It Up

A week long Geoguesser competition. Similar to last year’s geocaching competition, this year’s competition will involve hunting for things to win a prize. This year’s prize, though, will be a national parkannual pass (an $80 value). Visit their booth in Brigham’s Square outside of the Booth in the WILK everyday from 10am to to 2pm with details on and sign up sheets.


November 15


3pm. Student Urban Planning Association’s Tour of Campus. Conducted by Dr. Michael Clay. Meet at the Geography department office

November 16

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

SWKT Rooftop tours from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

OSM (Open Street Maps)  Lab 2-3 640 SWKT: An effort to ” crowd source digitizing of roads and rural areas.”

November 17

Chauncy Harris Lecture at 11am 250 HBLL

They’ll also have a Bowl of Heaven (1283 N University Ave #101,) fundraiser from 3 -8 p.m., in which 15% of your purchases will be donated to the Geography Club. Be sure to place your receipt in the fundraiser donation box!

November 18

Geography Major Picture: All geography majors gather on the SWKT lawn (time TBA) for free hot chocolate and donuts and picture-taking!

Geoguesser winner announced at 12 noon

This event is bigger than just BYU’s Geography Department; it has in fact been going on around the country for more than twenty years. 

Anyone is eligible to win other prizes as well, including t-shirts, maps, and books by:

Says Geography club president Roman Huerta about the purpose of all of these activities: “We hope to raise awareness of the power of maps and spatial analysis.  When people understand its power and abilities they will use it more and apply it more to various aspects of their studies, research, and lives.  It is super relevant in today’s world, and the more people are using mapping software the more new and creative applications for geography will come forth and continue to grow and advance.”

Three Ways to Have a Happy Family Life, as Shown by our Alumni

As the name implies, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at BYU is particularly concerned with studying the family as the basic unit of society, as part of our broad mission to study patterns of human behavior from diverse disciplinary approaches. Our current students and faculty spend a lot of time looking at families through the lenses of anthropology, economics, geography, history, neuroscience, political science, psychology, social work, and sociology. Some of our 71,000 alumni, even after they leave our campus, are devoted to the cause of studying and supporting families, and provide examples of ways in which we can do the same:

1. Do your research

sheffieldrachel-webAlumnae Rachel Sheffield puts her degrees bachelors and masters degrees in marriage, family, and human development into action by influencing family policy in Washington, DC.  She’s spent the last eight years with the Heritage Foundation, a nationally recognized conservative public policy research institute, promoting family-friendly policies through solid research on policy issues and marketing the findings to members of Congress, policymakers, and the media.

As an undergraduate, she worked for Family Life faculty member Alan Hawkins, who said of her, in a 2013 interview: “Rachel was one of the quietest students I’ve ever interacted with. Her peers working on the project were boisterous extroverts and I worried a little about her in our meetings. But she always delivered first-class work to me.” She says that much of the research done in her classes, as well as her experience working for Dr. Hawkins in the Research Hub of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, helped her.

Of her work now, she says: “Talking to a student group that will come in, and telling them about why marriage is important, why a married mother and father make such a big difference in a child’s life and seeing the light go on, and realizing that’s not something that they hear every day—those experiences have been really rewarding.”

We too can take time to research successful family practices, regardless of whether we work to apply it in our own homes or the White House.

2. Seek to Understand and Engage

Some people might think economics grads are destined for Wall Street, but what about comedy skits?  Jared Shores is the producer and director of Studio C,  a popular comedy troupe made up of BYU alumni. “I was sort of a fish out of water in economics,” he told BYU Magazine. “My advisors did not know what to say to me. I always knew I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry, but I found the modeling and projection in my major fascinating. Through economics I could study human behavior with a framework that tells me who people are and what they value by how they use their resources and how they behave.

Matthew R. Meese (a.k.a., Scott Sterling)  says: “We often remind ourselves we are guessing. We don’t know how well we are doing until the audience tells us. But Jared is an excellent, discerning guesser with a good sense of what is going to work.” And that understanding has helped them garner over a million YouTube subscribers.


Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

And it makes him a good boss to work for. Meese adds: Shores “allows creative leeway, which we value. There’s no feeling that this comes from the top down. Jared wants to know how he can help and does a lot of extra-mile work for the show.” Shores knows how to make work fun.  Even though he is “the boss,” he is a team player. Like Jared, parents can lead their kids in engaging ways.

3. Create Safety

sandberg-jonathanAlum Jonathan G. Sandberg got his masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from BYU, went to get a PhD in the same subject from Kansas State University, and since returned to BYU as a faculty member in the School of Family Life. He is a Certified Emotionally Focused Supervisor with the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute, and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Utah. He said: when a child feels a parent is accessible (“I can find you”) and responsive (“you reach out to me and comfort me when I call”), a secure attachment can develop. The same kinds of feelings with regards to accessibility and responsiveness can increase engagement with our spouses. These steps can make a difference in [any] marriage. He suggests these “do’s and don’ts” for creating relationship safety.