The New Jini Roby Scholarship for the School of Social Work

This story was lifted from the 2020-2021 Social Work Newsletter and was authored by MSW student Pamela Love.

This year the BYU School of Social Work will establish a new scholarship named after Jini Roby, who retired in 2019 after serving as a beloved professor and colleague for 20 years. “She left an incredible legacy,” writes Charlene Clark.

            Dr. Gene Gibbons, founder of the School of Social Work, tells of watching Jini grow through the BSW and MFT/MSW programs here at BYU. After beginning her practice as a social worker, Dr. Gibbons recounts that Jini came to him one day and said, “Would you write a letter for me to go to law school?” And, he said, “Well, you know I would.” Then, after her first year of law school, the Dean of the law school called Dr. Gibbons and said, “If you have any more Jini Robys, would you please send them my way?” Later, when BYU had an opening for a new faculty member, Dr. Gibbons recommended Jini. He told the hiring committee, “I’m telling you, she’ll put us on the map. She will make BYU known.” He went on to commend her competency and kindness: “She has been a shining star. She as helped all these third world countries protect their children. She had a following [here in the School of Social Work]. Anyone who new Jini wanted to be a part of her project and be around her. She just had such a magnificent influence.”

            Indeed, after earning her Marriage and Family Therapy/Master of Social Work at BYU, Jini Roby shared that she felt inspired to attend law school and begin her work as an international expert in family policy and law. After being on the BYU faculty for a year, in 1999, Jini was asked to help the Marshall Islands with their adoption laws “because of the difficulties they had with children being spirited away without any processes or procedures…They had no law, and because adoption was an entirely different process, there was no termination of parental rights…Adoptions typically occurred between kin, but when American families started adopting these children, the cultural understanding wasn’t there that this was terminating their parental rights; and they would probably never see their children again.”

            “The country was very alarmed,” Jini said, “There was a lot of money being exchanged under the table—buying and selling children. So, I was involved in helping to establish [adoption] laws. After that, I started going to other countries to look at their adoption situations, and my vision was opened up to the rest of the child welfare spectrum…A lot of it was related to poverty, neglect, and the lack of resources.”

            Jini shared a poignant lesson she learned at the very beginning of her work in international family law that guided her from then on. She had this life-changing conversation with the people of the Marshall Islands as she began to explain how Western adoption works with them:

“What do you mean by termination of parental rights? It sounds like they are being cut off,” they said.

Jini told them, “That’s what it means. That’s what it means legally, it means parents who gave birth are no longer the parents.”

“How is that possible?” they asked, “Who has authority to say that?”

“A judge does,” Jini replied.

“A man can override what God has done? We don’t get it. Why is that?” they asked in response.

“Oh my goodness,” she said, “Yes, that’s something to think about. You know, you’re helping me to understand these problems that you’ve been having.”

“Why do the Western people have to make up these lies?” they asked. “How is that good for the children? In our society, if a child needs to be raised by another family because their original family can’t provide for them, then we find another family, but we never cut off the original family. The child has both families. Are you sure you understand this? Because it seems to cruel, too unwise.”

            Jini admitted, “That was a huge lesson for me in cultural sensitivity and cultural humility. It was such a strong lesson. I will never, ever just march into a country and assume that my perspectives, though I am highly educated, are necessarily correct. It has to be a humble partnership on my part.”

            Shortly after this incident, Professor Roby remembers visiting the hut of a small village in Mozambique on a cold and rainy day where a mother who had AIDS was huddled on the wet floor surrounded by her children. The translator told Jini, referring to the mother, “She has been sent home to die. She has not been able to talk about what to do with her children when she dies. She has been blamed for her condition even though her husband had brought HIV into the relationship. He has already died, and her husband’s family has blamed her for his death. By law and tradition, the children will go to his family. She does not want this to happen.” Jini then realized that this mother “had not been counseled. She did not know what her options were. She had nobody to talk to.”

In remembering this mother’s sad story, Jini said, “That just tore me to the core. I thought, ‘There needs to be counseling There needs to be ways that mothers can be empowered to make these decisions.’” Although unable to help the mother in Mozambique before her dearth, a year later, Jini took a group of law and social work students to Uganda to write 450 wills for mothers who were dying of AIDS. “The law students wrote the wills and the social work students helped with the memory books,” she said. Incidentally, Dr. Cole Hooley led the memory book project among the social work students. Jini also shared stories of her work with Dr. Stacey Shaw. She truly loved her students, some of whom became her cherished faculty colleagues.

            In reminiscing about these experiences, Jini said, “I learned. My heart was pierced, and I was humbled; but I was lucky enough that when I was at BYU that I could then do something about what I learned—not to solve the whole problem, but to do something—and to have the students experience what it’s like to be part of healing, just a little hand of support, a little demonstration of kindness.”

            Professor Roby also told of the love she felt from her grandmother as a child in Korea. She said, “I grew up in abject poverty, yet I was rich. I tend to disagree with a lot of the conceptualization of what’s best for children. The first right that a child has is to be raised by their family, including their extended family. To me, the richest type of privilege is to be loved and to be empowered to believe in yourself, which I was.”

            Jini went on to say, “What I love about social work is that you have the opportunity to learn and to suffer with people who suffer in a way that maybe you can bring some relief, some comfort. To me, it’s such a privilege. This is not about me, or if it is about me, it’s about what I’m going to learn and how I’m going to grow to help more…This is why I am so honored that there will be scholarship in my name because I so believe in the education process. It’s not just empowering for the individual, but it’s going to have a rippling effect for the people they will impact.”


This story was taken from the 2020-2021 Social Work Newsletter, which can be found and read in full at https://socialwork.byu.edu/newsletters . 

Constitution Day Lecture Recap

On Thursday, September 17, 2020, in observance of Constitution Day, the College of Family, Home, and Social hosted its annual Constitution Day Lecture. This year’s lecture, “President Trump’s Immigration Policies: Are They Constitutional?” was presented by Dr. Anna O. Law. Law is the Herbert Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights in the Department of Political Science at CUNY Brooklyn College. She is actively involved with research and publication on current political issues, most notably concerning gender and asylum for immigrants. She is the author of The Immigration Battle in American Courts and is currently working on a new book about slavery and immigration federalism. Law’s field of academic expertise lies at the intersect of public law and US immigration policy and history.

Law’s lecture began with an examination of how the Trump administration’s approach to immigration policy has differed from those of past administrations. She stated that the issue is an overwhelming “volume of lies” and an associated disregard for “the rule of law.” According to Law, this rule of law consists of the following:

  • A universal application of justice
  • Fair and consistent rules
  • Robust legal processes where protections of rights are enforced
  • A competent population of lawyers and judges

Law went on to examine both the constitutionality and the efficacy of Trump’s many policies concerning immigration, including the border wall and significant changes to the asylum application process. She also discussed how the administration is currently using the COVID-19 pandemic to justify even more restrictions on those seeking to enter the US through the southern border. Law pointed out flaws inboth the Trump and Obama administrations’ treatment of undocumented workers and proposes a more humane approach to immigration management. For her, a reformed immigration policy focuses on the following:

  • Pressuring employers of undocumented migrants
  • Securing employment verification
  • Increasing foreign aid
  • Dismantling the Department of Homeland Security
  • Implementing stricter gun reform laws

The College of Family, Home, and Social Science is grateful to Dr. Law for taking the time to speak and share her academic and professional insights on this complex and controversial issue. For those that were unable to attend the lecture, a recording is posted and available for viewing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwmX2EweNj8

Annual Constitution Day Lecture Focuses on President Trump’s Immigration Policies

The 2020 Constitution Day Event hosted by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will examine the immigration policies of the Trump Administration during the lecture “President Trump’s Immigration Policies: Are They Constitutional?” on Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 11 AM (MST). This virtual lecture will take via Zoom by following this link: http://bit.ly/byuconstitutionday2020.

The lecture will be presented by Dr. Anna O. Law, the Herbert Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights in the Department of Political Science at CUNY Brooklyn College. Dr. Law’s publications appear in both social science and law journals and investigate the interaction between law, legal institutions and politics. Her first book, The Immigration Battle in American Courts (Cambridge University Press 2010), examined the role of the federal judiciary in U.S. immigration policy, and the institutional evolution of the Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Law is a former program analyst at the bipartisan, blue-ribbon United States Commission on Immigration Reform. She has shared her expertise with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Department of Homeland Security and National Science Foundation. In 2007, she appeared as a recurring narrator with other academic experts and two Supreme Court justices in the PBS award winning documentary. Her current projects include a second book on immigration federalism and slavery, and National Science Foundation funded research on gender & asylum.

Dean Benjamin Ogles Releases Statement on Commitment to Fight Racism

Helpful Resources:

Equal Justice Initiative

Winners of 2020 Fulton Mentored Research Poster Conference Announced

We are excited to announce the winners for the 2020 Fulton Mentored Research Conference! 

Although we were not able to hold the usual public Fulton Poster Conference due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to move forward with a virtual online competition this year. The winners and submissions from each department are now listed on the online Fulton Poster Conference website:

You can view all Fulton Poster Conference winners and submissions here

A big congratulations from the college to the winners, and to all the students and faculty mentors that submitted their research. We appreciate your hard work and dedication!

* Winners will be contacted with more information on how they will receive their awards. The number of awards for each department is based on the quantity of posters submitted. 

BYU Career Services Are Still Available To Help FHSS Students

BYU Career Service resources are still available and ready to help!

  • To schedule Career Studio appointments, call 801-422-3000 
  • You can set up an immediate Zoom appointment with a Career Mentor OR use the Live chat feature found at: https://careers.byu.edu/
  • Get help with resume, cover letter, online professional presence and network, interview preparation and more…
  • Get started with self-paced online Mock Interview practice using StandOut: https://careers.byu.edu/interviews 
  • Get started with self-paced online Resume help with Vmock: https://careers.byu.edu/resumes 
  • Find virtually info sessions and events on Handshake > Events tab > Events Search > In filters click on Virtual Events

Don’t forget to connect with your Career Directors, Ben Drewry, Linda Evans, and Arnie Allred to help with your transition from College to Career. Call 801-422-3000 for an appointment.

Fulton Mentored Research Conference Will Take Place Online Only

As events are being canceled across campus, many have been wondering if the 16th Annual Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Research Conference will still be taking place in April. 

Although we will not be able to enjoy the regular interactions of a poster conference and luncheon due to the limitations on large group gatherings, the Fulton Poster Conference will carry on, albeit in an electronic context. 

The Fulton website still available and will remain open to receive your poster submissions until the extended submission deadline of Tuesday, March 31st at noon. 

Your poster submissions will not be printed, but we will still have department faculty judges review all poster submissions, and they will select winners at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Once the list of winning posters is finalized, we will post the list on the conference website. For those who are on the list of winners, our college controller will connect with you to work out how you will receive your cash awards.

Thank you for all of your good work! We love to see the results of the research that you are engaged in with faculty!

If you have any questions about the submission process, deadline, or new judging process, please contact fhss@byu.edu.

Celebrate Women’s History Month and Focus on Mental Health in March

Happy March and Women’s History Month. Below are a few initiatives we would like to highlight this month: 

Women’s History Month — The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.  

BYU’s Mental Health Matters Initiative — We aim to inspire, inform, and involve students as we change the stigmas about mental health on BYU’s Campus. The vision of this campaign is to bring awareness to the current state of mental health on BYU’s campus and equip students with resources needed to be active advocates in improving their own mental health and supporting those around them. 

March 1 – 31 Women’s History Month

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” — Maya Angelou

“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” — Melinda Gates

Many of the following events have been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please confirm before attending.

March 16 – 28 BYU Mental Health Matters Campaign 

3/16 Kick-Off Campaign 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM Brigham Square

3/17 “I AM NOT ALONE” 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM Brigham Square

3/18 PEN Talks: Forum Topic – MENTAL HEALTH Join an open dialogue among BYU students with diverse perspectives. Light meal provided. 6:30 – 8:00 PM  WSC Varsity Theater

3/19 Trauma Specialists’ Panel 7:00 – 8:00 PM  WSC 3225

3/23 Destress At The Wall 5:30 – 7:00 PM  The Wall, WSC 

3/24 Meet & Greet with CAPS 12:30 – 1:30 PM  WSC 3211

Keynote Speaker: Cougar Hall 7:00 – 9:00 PM  WSC 3211

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” — Glenn Close

March 3 BRAVO! “We Shall Overcome” — Inspired by the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We Shall Overcome” showcases music that moved and motivated generations of civil rights activists and defenders, interwoven with recordings of Dr. King’s electrifying speeches.

7:30 PM  de Jong Concert Hall (Tickets Required: eventtickets.byu.edu/)

March 6 Latter-day Saint Women and Scripture: A Maxwell Institute Student Symposium — An event that gathers Maxwell Institute student research assistants together to share insights from research focused on women and scripture.

9:30 AM – 2:30 PM  Education In Zion Theater – JFSB

March 7 “Phenomenal Woman”: An International Women’s Day Celebration — featuring cultural dance, music, and poetry. 

5:30 PM  Kiwanis Park Pavilion

March 10, 17, 24, 31 Women’s History Month Brown Bag Talk: “National Connections in Utah’s Suffrage Story” — Better Days 2020 historians Katherine Kitterman, Tiffany Greene, and Rebekah Clark will present on Utah suffragists’ connections with the national movement, from 1870 to 1920 and beyond.

12:00 – 1:00 PM  Utah State Archives Conference Room (346 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) 

March 17 Career Success Series: Positive Psychology & Resilience — Career Director, Linda Evans, gives a presentation on coping with failure and challenges through positive psychology and gospel principles. Come and learn about these topics and more! 

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM  JFSB B192

March 24 Forum: Dambisa Moyo, International Economist — Dambisa Moyo, International Economist, will deliver the forum address. She is a Zambian economist and author who analyzes the macro economy and global affairs. She currently serves on the boards of Barclays Bank, the financial services group, Seagate Technology, Chevron Corporation, the global miner Barrick Gold, and the 3M Company. She is powerful thinker and influence around the world as a female leader. Come hear her speak to us! 

11:05 AM MT  Marriott Center

March 27 & 28 BYU Cedartree Memorial Competition Pow Wow — The Annual BYU Cedartree Memorial Competition Pow Wow is a two-day event that features competition Native-American dancing and drumming, and Native American jewelry, art, and food vendors. Come learn more about this beautiful culture and community! 

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM on both days  Wilkinson Center Ballroom