FHSS Student Spotlight: George Garcia III

Ecomonics valedictorian eager to do the most good 

George Garcia, valedictorian for the Economics Department, is a first-generation college student who came to BYU without any real understanding of what he was getting himself in to — he says he didn’t even know what “major” meant. He started in a track for international relations, moved to seminary teaching, then switched to political science, and ended with a double major in economics and math. For George, math gives him the tools to more fully understand economics, where his true passion lies.  

George’s passion for learning was ignited by Darrin Hawkins in POLI 200. Professor Hawkins showed George that the point of college wasn’t just to take in existing knowledge but to create and discover knowledge. That’s when he realized that he could generate knowledge himself, instead of just consuming it. Since then, George has helped in a number of research projects involving both political science and economics. 

George’s passion for economics stems from his belief in a higher moral obligation to do the “most good” with the blessings he has received. Looking around at the blessings that students at BYU enjoy, George sees an obligation to take our privileges and use them to bless the lives of those less fortunate. He says economics provides “a beautiful framework to take resources and do the ‘most good’ with it.” The field gives a base of knowledge on which to build a life of service. 

Looking back on his time at BYU, George remembers fondly the time he spent working on his Honor’s Thesis, which explored the effect of air pollution on people’s expressed sentiment on Twitter. He was able to work for professor Arden Pope as a research assistant for this project. Together they wrote a paper that they hope to publish in the near future. The process of taking an idea and creating something useful with it excites George.  

George will be working as a pre-doctoral research fellow at Stanford Law School studying disability and labor policy. He hopes to go on to get a Ph.D. in economics and spend his life trying to learn how to do the “most good,” whether that path leads further in academia or takes him somewhere else.  

For all the students that will follow in George’s footsteps, he asks that they remember that “no matter the field, it won’t be whole.” There are still discoveries to be made, experiments to be conducted, questions to be asked. He urges students to find ways to look at the world differently and ask seek opportunities to contribute to the wealth of collective knowledge.  

George believes in BYU’s motto: “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” Beyond just our ability to help, we have a moral duty to lift the burdens of others with the many blessings we have received. An education is more than generating new knowledge, it is building a life that is capable of doing the “most good.”  

Childhood adversity shapes adolescent delinquency, fatherhood

Written by Christine Allen of University Communications

Photo by Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

About 61% of Americans have had at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), experts’ formal term for a traumatic childhood event.

ACEs—which may include abuse, neglect and severe household dysfunction—often lead to psychological and social struggles that reach into adulthood, making ACEs a major public health challenge. But the long-term consequences of ACEs are just beginning to be understood in detail. To fill in the picture, two recent BYU studies analyzed how ACEs shape adolescents’ delinquent behaviors as well as fathers’ parenting approaches.

ACEs linked to girls’—but not boys’—delinquent behavior

Although the role of adversity in adolescent delinquency has long been examined in the field of criminology, only in the past decade have criminologists referred to these events as ACEs and seriously considered how early ACEs predict a person’s delinquency, according to BYU sociology professors Hayley Pierce and Melissa S. Jones.

In their study of that relationship, published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Pierce and Jones showed that ACEs do have a significant effect on teenagers’ criminal behavior—at least for girls. Girls who experienced four or more ACEs by age five, during the most sensitive period of brain development, were 36% more likely to participate in delinquent behavior. Boys’ delinquent behavior, on the other hand, appeared unrelated to early ACEs, although boys have an overall higher rate of delinquency.

“These results run counter to previous research suggesting that girls are far more likely than boys to internalize trauma through developing an eating disorder or other self-harming behaviors,” said Jones. “What we find here is the opposite: girls are externalizing trauma through delinquent acts.”

Pierce and Jones drew their data from the longitudinal Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. The survey examined childhood adversity and adolescent behavior over a 15-year period for approximately 5,000 children, with a high proportion born to poor, single-parent or minority families in the U.S.

“Our analysis points toward the need for gendered strategies in working with children with ACEs because the different ways boys and girls are socialized shape how they process trauma,” Jones said.

The study should also promote compassion and understanding for adolescents who act out, the researchers emphasized.

“One of the most important things I teach in my juvenile delinquency class is that delinquency is a symptom of an underlying problem,” said Jones. “If an adolescent is getting arrested, there’s often something else going on in the child’s life, such as problems at home.”

“When adolescents engage in delinquency, it’s important first to ask, ‘Okay, what got you here?’ and work from that knowledge,” Pierce added.

ACEs predict less warmth, more harsh discipline in fathers

Even though ACEs may not be linked to teen boys’ delinquency, having ACEs earlier in life does apparently impact how men parent.

Most existing research on ACEs and parenting focuses on mothers and looks exclusively at abuse. Curious about ACEs’ effects on fathers and the wider range of ACEs that may influence more day-to-day aspects of parenting, BYU sociologist Kevin Shafer and Scott Easton of Boston College decided to examine parenting patterns in men with past ACEs.

In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, they found that fathers who had experienced at least three ACEs were more likely to use harsh disciplinary techniques. Compared to the mothers with ACEs from previous studies, these men were also less likely to exhibit positive parenting characteristics, such as giving affection to their kids, providing care for young children and being emotionally supportive. The more ACEs a father had, the greater their effect on his parenting.

ACEs likely influence fathering partly because ACEs are associated with poor mental health, including depression, anxiety or anger management problems. Mental health challenges in turn influence how men parent their children.

“While on the face of it that sounds bad, it’s weirdly also a good thing because even though ACEs happened in the past and can’t be changed, you can get treatment for mental health issues in the present,” said Shafer. “When men get that help, they can blunt the impact of their ACEs on how they parent their kids, and that improves their kids’ outcomes. So their own childhood isn’t destiny.”

The study analyzed data from the 2015–16 U.S. Survey of Contemporary Fatherhood, which queried over 2,000 fathers about their adverse childhood experiences, degree of psychological distress and parenting habits.

The connection between ACEs and negative fathering techniques is especially indicative of the “untreated trauma” suffered by many men, which Shafer believes is “one of the biggest public health issues we have.”

“When men get that help, they can blunt the impact of their ACEs on how they parent their kids, and that improves their kids’ outcomes. So their own childhood isn’t destiny.”

Kevin Shafer, BYU Professor of Sociology

“We have a lot of individuals walking around with ACEs going untreated, and our study shows that has a wide-ranging impact on people in their lives,” said Shafer. A big part of the solution would be a “comprehensive public mental health strategy” for fathers, which may include better incorporating fathers into the childbirth experience and early pediatric care, as well as regularly screening fathers for mental health, he concluded.

Media Contact: Tyler Stahle

Super Bowl Champion To Speak At Convocation

Valedictorians and Graduation Plans Announced 

Congratulations to the graduating seniors in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences! If you are a December 2020, April 2021, June 2021, and August 2021 graduate, keep reading for more details you’ll want to know about our virtual graduation exercises. 

Tell Us About You 

Since we won’t see you walk across the stage this year, we’d love to see you and read about your BYU highlights on our graduation site. Please upload your photo before April 5, if possible, so we can have it for graduation! And complete your bio too — this is a great record of all the experiences our students have at BYU.  

We also have a small gift for you. Please be sure to verify your address so we can send you a diploma cover, cap, tassel, and more. This needs to happen by April 20 and it’s all in one process at http://fhssgraduates.byu.edu.   

Sociology Alumnus Setema Gali to Speak at Convocation 

The 2021 FHSS Convocation speaker will be Setema Gali, a BYU alumnus (BS Sociology ‘01, MPA ‘14) and a living example of winning after the game.  

On the field, he was a Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots and an All-Conference defensive end and team captain for the BYU Cougars. However, since retiring from the NFL, he’s built world-class businesses and teams in the areas of mortgages and real estate, sales, consulting, coaching, and mentoring. Setema has faced hardship, the fall of markets, losses of a business he built and yet he has proven time and time again that mindset and discipline aligned with a holy cause can restore you to the top of your game.  

Convocation speaker Setema Gali with wife Laina and three sons.

Setema credits his marriage and family for shaping him in ways that business and football could not have. He also recognizes the positive impact of his BYU education. He says, “I loved my time at BYU. I love the campus, the football program, the professors who were instrumental in helping me learn and grow to become the man I am today.” 

Setema wants graduates to “get really clear on the life you want to live, the impact you want to have, and make a commitment that you will never lose sight of what matters most — your spouse, your children, your purpose, and faith in God.” 

Valedictorians Announced 

Each department has named an exemplary student as valedictorian. Read more about each students’ BYU experience at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/valedictorians.  

  • Anthropology: Samuel J. Jensen from Provo, Utah 
  • Economics: George Reuben Garcia III from Pueblo, Colorado 
  • Geography: Haley Anna Morris from Monroe, Louisiana 
  • History: Hovan Lawton from Provo, Utah 
  • Neuroscience: Alyssa Stockard Lee from Fallon, Nevada 
  • Political Science: Heather Kristina Walker from Pleasant Grove, Utah 
  • Psychology: Sydney Rasmussen from Franklin, Tennessee 
  • School of Family Life: Eliza Crump Heim from Lehi, Utah 
  • Sociology: Emley Holcombe from Morton, Illinois 

Join the Virtual Graduation Ceremonies 

BYU commencement exercises will be broadcast live from the Marriott Center on BYUtv on Thursday, April 22, at 10 a.m. MDT. Elder Gerrit W. Gong will be the speaker. 

Convocation for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will be held virtually on Friday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m. MDT. Join the event at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/home/convocation. Our featured speaker is Setema Gali.  

Each department will host its own program immediately following convocation. Details will be posted at https://fhssgraduates.byu.edu/home/convocation

To Mask or Not to Mask

Patterson speaks on Politics of Individualism at Hickman Lecture 

Kelly Patterson, BYU professor of political science will present “Pandemic and Politics of Individualism” on Thursday, March 11 at 11 a.m. for the Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar lecture. Anyone can join the zoom meeting from the Hickman Lectures webpage.  

The pandemic has caused Americans, and people worldwide, to consider the tension between their individual rights on the one hand and the good of society on the other hand.  

Dr. Patterson and his co-investigator theorized about the meaning of individualism and then developed a new measure of “moral individualism” that focuses on the relationship between individuals and authority. In his lecture, Dr. Patterson will discuss how this measure helps explain various attitudes and behaviors with regard to the pandemic.  

“We find that those people who score higher on the individualism scale are less likely to want to wear masks or to engage in the sorts of civic activities that are designed to benefit the community,” says Dr. Patterson.  

Beyond his research, Dr. Patterson demonstrates an exceptional commitment to scholarship through mentoring students in research on American politics with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy and with outstanding instruction that in this past year has included making substantial adaptations in the face of the pandemic. He has also spent time in administrative service as both department chair and associate dean.  

“Dr. Patterson is a senior scholar who plays an important and significant role in the college,” says Ben Ogles, dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “He is the type of faculty member who our founding dean Martin Hickman would be proud to have serving in our college.” 

As founding dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, Dr. Hickman did remarkable work for the college and BYU that was never directed at advancing his own career, but rather done for the good of the Church, the university and his faculty and associates. Because of Dr. Hickman’s many years of service to the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, the annual Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar Award recognizes a distinguished member of the college faculty who emulates Dr. Hickmans example. 

Join Dr. Patterson’s lecture “Pandemic and Politics of Individualism,” March 11 at 11 a.m.  

Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health

Written by Christine Allen of University Communications

As teens’ use of social media has grown over the past decade, so too has the suicide rate among younger people, with suicide now being the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34. Many have suggested that social media is driving the increased suicide risk, but because social media is still relatively new, it’s been difficult to determine its long-term effects on mental health. 

In the longest study to date on social media use and suicidality, BYU research recently published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence now offers some answers.

Through annual surveys from 2009 to 2019, researchers tracked the media use patterns and mental health of 500 teens as part of the Flourishing Families Project. They found that while social media use had little effect on boys’ suicidality risk, for girls there was a tipping point. Girls who used social media for at least two to three hours per day at the beginning of the study—when they were about 13 years old—and then greatly increased their use over time were at a higher clinical risk for suicide as emerging adults.

“Something about that specific social media use pattern is particularly harmful for young girls,” said BYU professor Sarah Coyne, the lead author of the study. She noted that girls’ social tendencies likely make them more susceptible to the negative effects of social media.

“Research shows that girls and women in general are very relationally attuned and sensitive to interpersonal stressors, and social media is all about relationships,” Coyne explained. “At 13, girls are just starting to be ready to handle the darker underbelly of social media, such as FOMO (fear of missing out), constant comparisons and cyberbullying. A 13-year-old is probably not developmentally ready for three hours of social media a day.”

That said, in most cases, Coyne doesn’t recommend parents ban teenage daughters from social media, which can backfire by leaving them poorly prepared to manage their media use as adults.

“Thirteen is not a bad age to begin social media,” said Coyne, whose own 13-year-old daughter just joined TikTok. “But it should start at a really low level and should be appropriately managed.”

Coyne suggests that parents limit young teens’ social media time to about 20 minutes a day, maintain access to their accounts and talk with teens frequently about what they’re seeing on social media. Over time, teens can gradually scale up their social media use and autonomy.

“The goal is to teach them to be healthy users of social media, to use it in a way that helps them feel good about themselves and connect with other people, which is its real purpose. It’s parents’ job to scaffold or pre-arm children so that they can deal with some of the heavy stuff that often comes with using social media.” 

For young adults who feel they’ve already developed suboptimal social media habits, Coyne is optimistic that they can make a change. As her previous research has shown, social media can be a positive experience for teens and people of any age if they use it well.

Good habits include logging on for a purpose and actively participating rather than passively scrolling, as well as unfollowing those who are exclusionary or have a negative influence.

“I would love for every BYU student to be mindful about the ways they’re using social media, how it’s working for their mental health and how it’s harming their mental health. And then just to avoid doing those harmful things, whatever they are,” said Coyne. “I think that could have a significant impact on our community.”

The study was co-authored by current and former BYU professors and students, including Jeffrey L. Hurst, W. Justin Dyer, Quintin Hunt, Emily Schvaneveldt, Sara Brown and Gavin Jones.

For more tips on healthy social media use, see Professor Coyne’s social media curriculum.

Are you struggling with suicidal thoughts or do you know someone who is? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

Original article found here.

Four Ways You Can Help Congress Be More Effective

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

President Biden in less than a month has issued 30 executive orders, clearly demonstrating the power of the executive branch. As the 117th United States Congress starts out with mostly new leadership the question on the mind of many Americans is how effective the elected representatives will be.

If the past is any indication, most Americans probably aren’t expecting much. Over the last decade, Gallup reported Congressional job approval ratings that hovered just over 20% — with a low of 9% in November 2013 and a high of 31% in May 2020. To put it in perspective, the institution has lower approval ratings than colonoscopies, root canals, and cockroaches.

This disdain of Congress can be attributed to many factors, including a rise in partisanship. But Andrew L. Johns, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, believes the historical record reveals that Congress is not simply ineffective, but has in fact abdicated many of its obligations over time.

“As a result, the constitutional powers, authority, and prerogatives that should be exercised by Congress have been progressively appropriated by the occupants of the White House, both directly and indirectly,” says Johns in his article, “Declining the ‘Invitation to Struggle’: Congressional Complicity in the Rise of the Imperial Presidency,” published in the Pacific Historical Review.

The disturbing result is a less democratic and more authoritarian government. Perhaps most disheartening is the decreasing likelihood of solving complex problems that require a broad range of perspectives and thoughtful deliberation — exactly the strengths a large representative body brings to government.

While Congress will need to be the driving force in reclaiming its authority, citizens can do more than hold their collective breath. By combatting four main reasons Johns outlines for Congressional dysfunction, each of us can find ways to influence the power and effectiveness of Congress.

1. Congress isn’t designed for decisive action. This makes it easy to step back and let the president handle urgent matters. Congress has the authority to intervene, but not always the will to do so when it’s possible there is a faster, if less democratic, way to a solution. As citizens, we can be patient in important matters and, with our representatives, consider a variety of perspectives as they struggle toward solutions.

2. Political polarization limits congressional power and influence. The refusal to compromise with one’s political opponents prevents the government from handling pressing issues. Profoundly gerrymandered congressional districts and other tactics contribute to polarization. “Support members of Congress who are willing to reach across the aisle,” Johns says. When Congress is divided it creates power on the extremes of both parties and leaves the center completely powerless. “The center is where the work gets done, where the compromise occurs, and where Congress gets its power and authority.”

3. The evolving relationship of Congress and the presidency with the American public benefits presidential power. In the contemporary world, media and technological tools have created a presidency that has a closer relationship to the public than individual members of Congress have with their own districts, at least in terms of perception and familiarity. Presidents, like quarterbacks, tend to get more credit and more blame than they deserve. Citizens can make an effort to get to know their congressmen and frequently communicate directly with them. Know where to accurately place both blame and praise.

4. Parochial interests override institutional interests. Although members of Congress all theoretically have a common stake in the power of the institution, the stronger motivation to the hundreds of individual members is to get reelected by serving their own district or state. This type of situation results in the diminishing of Congress because the “collective Congress” fractures under parochial considerations. It’s true then, that the greatest power citizens have over Congress is their vote. Use your vote to express how you want elected officials to prioritize their interests when representing you.

Johns reminds us that we should support and elect members of Congress that actively seek to restore the constitutional balance because “the Constitution cannot enforce itself.”

Check out what we have going on in February!

Happy February! Here are the events we have going on in our college, including many that celebrate Black History Month.

February 1-29 Black History Month — “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” ~ Desmond Tutu

Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion (DCI) Art Contest Entries: Entries & Winners are on display ALL MONTH in the Atrium Gallery at the HBLL 

February 3 Race: Myths and Realities “How To Be An Antiracist” — Join the panel discussion regarding the Book of the Semester, How to Be an Antiracist. Amazing professors will be on the panel such as Rebecca de Schweinitz, Ryan Gabriel, Lori Spruance, and Leslie Hadfield as the moderator. Kennedy Center lecture series, register for Zoom Link here.  Noon

February 4 The Divide in the LDS 2020 Vote by Gender, Age, Race, and Place — Join us for a lecture by Jake Rugh, Associate Professor of Sociology at BYU. Part of the Global Women’s Studies Winter 2021 Colloquium. Zoom Meeting ID: 996 5473 7803   Noon 

February 10 Race: Myths and Realities: Matt Mason (BYU, History) “Slavery and the Politics of Humanity and Honor in the American Revolutionary War” — Kennedy Center lecture series, register for Zoom Link here.  Noon

February 12, 13, & 26 Living Legends — BYU Living Legends is pleased to offer an encore performance of its beloved show, Seasons. With recognizable classics and a bevy of new numbers, this production is sure to delight multiple generations. Come enjoy the music of our hearts, the outfits of our cultures, the story of our people, and, most especially, the dance of our powerful performers! Look at dance.byu.edu/ for times & Livestream Links 

February 14 Valentines Day 

February 16 Darius Gray Black History Month Lecture: Richard Bell (University of Maryland, Author of Stolen) — Professor Bell will be answering questions connecting his book with the movie Harriet. Co-sponsored by BYU History Department and BYU International Cinema. Zoom Link: click here.  2-3:15PM 

February 16 Jazz Ensemble & Syncopation — Big Band and vocal choir jazz. A high-energy, fun, uplifting, and enjoyable show! 7:30PM Livestream from https://music.byu.edu/

February 17 Race: Myths and Realities: Nadia Brown (Purdue University) “Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites” — Kennedy Center lecture series, register for Zoom Link here. Noon

February 18 GWS Colloquium: Marie Orton “Women Migrant Writers in Italy and the International Black Lives Matter Movement” — Part of the Global Women’s Studies Winter 2021 Colloquium. Zoom Meeting ID: 996 5473 7803   Noon 

February 19 Diversity & Inclusion Lecture: Niwako Yamawaki (BYU, Psychology) “My Perspective as an Immigrant” — Zoom Link will be available at http://fhss.byu.edu  11AM

February 19 Perspectives — Black Students put on a performance through music, dance, and poetry highlighting their beautiful expansion of history and culture. Event is through the Multicultural Student Services office. 5PM Look at multicultural.byu.edu/ for Livestream Link

February 23 University Forum: Dambisa Moyo, Macroeconomist — Dambisa Moyo, macroeconomist and author, will deliver the Forum address. Dr. Moyo’s remarks will be broadcast on BYUtv. Connect here 11AM

February 24 Race: Myths and Realities: Erika Edwards (University of North Carolina) “A Black Mother of a White Nation: The Whitening Process in Argentina” — Kennedy Center lecture series, register for Zoom Link here. Noon

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.