Psychological effects of critical illness: Hickman Lecture 2018

The effects of a critical illness can impact your life and the lives of your loved ones years after the illness itself ends.

1109-15 Hopkins, Ramona 05Ramona Hopkins, director of the BYU Neuroscience Center, will address this relevant and personal topic at the 25th Annual Martin B. Hickman Outstanding Scholar Lecture. Her lecture, titled “Effects of Critical Illness on Patients and Families,” will expound on Post-Intensive Care Syndrome and how critical illness impacts both patients and family caregivers’ cognitive and psychological functions.

The lecture will be held on Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in room 250 in the KMBL (SWKT). Light refreshments will be served after the event.

Dr. Ramona Hopkins has led and served the college in neuroscience and psychology for almost 20 years. She has multiple degrees in both nursing and psychology and uses her knowledge and leadership to direct the Neuroscience Center and to teach psychology and neuroscience. She is the recipient of a number of awards from BYU including the Young Scholar Award in 2004, the Karl G. Maeser Research and Creative Arts Award in 2010, the 2011 Jack Bailey Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellowship and the 2013 Sponsored Research Recognition Award.

The lecture is in honor of Martin Berkeley Hickman, a BYU political science professor who served as the dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences from 1970-1986. As the dean, Hickman was instrumental in helping the college become what it is today by unifying the College of Social Sciences with parts of the College of Family Living. He also helped make possible the Women’s Research Institute, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Family Studies Center. As for teaching, Hickman is recognized as the father of BYU’s American Heritage program as he organized, presided over, and helped instruct the course. Hickman was renown for his loyalty and dedication to his family, the Church, the college and BYU.

The Martin B. Hickman Scholar Award is given annually to recognize a notable college faculty who follows Hickman’s example of service and dedication.


Hinckley 2018: How to foster belonging for children and adults with disabilities

Of the approximately 526,000 people who live in the Provo-Orem area, 15,000 individuals have intellectual and developmental disabilities…and about 100,000 individuals have disabilities in general.

In his 2018 Marjorie Pay Hinckley lecture “Fostering Belonging: Inclusion, Friendship, and People with Disabilities,” Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education Erik Carter invited us to see these individuals for their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses and differences. In doing this, they will truly find worth and belonging in our congregations and communities.

In his research and studies, Dr. Carter found that there is a pattern of 10 attitudes, actions, and experiences that lead to belonging.

1. To be present

In a study conducted by Dr. Carter, 87% of people with disabilities said that faith was “somewhat” or “very important” in their lives, yet only 43% of individuals with significant disabilities attend worship services at least once a month. This is not a critique of these individuals, but a critique of our church buildings and services. We must have facilities and services that serve the needs of all members of the congregation and allow them to be present. Where and how we gather say a lot about our community and how we treat the people of our community.

2. To be invited

It is one thing for an individual to be present, but quite another for them to be intentionally invited to be part of a community. And that’s the key–intention. In Dr. Carter’s study, a church leader reported that “it’s not that we deliberately exclude [individuals with disabilities]. In fact, we’re not deliberate at all. That’s the problem.”

An announcement is a good first step and it may be intentional, but it is not personal. A true invitation is personal, lets the individual know that they are personally being thought of and that their presence really matters.

3. To be welcomed

peoplewriting_hinckley 2018“[Being welcomed] is not just about what you say, but rather it is more about what is felt. The host is not the one who determines what feels welcoming. It is the guest,” shared Dr. Carter.

For the host (those who are doing the welcoming), the biggest threat to being welcoming is uncertainty. Ask about the needs of the individual and then ask about who they are. Parents of youth with disabilities say that they see a large degree of joy in their children. When you welcome that joy into your congregation, think about the joy they will give back. The charge to welcome individuals with disabilities is not only for close family, friends or a welcome committee, it is a charge for everyone.

4. To be known

When you welcome someone into your community, they should not stay a stranger for long. Getting to know people is essential, but it is how they are known that is even more important. Don’t know people by simply their name, their labels, or their strength in overcoming their disabilities; see them for who they are and their strengths. Their friendship and joy are something to be shared and appreciated.

5. To be accepted

We need to be personally involved with contacting all members of our community. This is not solely the responsibility of religious leaders, but it is again a responsibility for every member of the congregation. By embracing the person for all they are–both their attitudes of you and your attitudes of them–will be changed.

6. To be supported

Having a disability can be challenging, but even more challenging is doing it without the support of those around you. To be supportive you must show interest, ask for input, and ask good questions. Be an advocate for disability awareness efforts and an advocate for the family so that church can become the happiest and most supportive time of these individuals’ and their families’ week.

7. To be cared for

Church only lasts for a few hours but fellowship needs to continue throughout the week. Truly caring for others means that we “recognize and strive to support the spiritual, emotional, and practical needs” of members even after we leave the chapel on Sunday. This care shows that the individual matters and that they belong. Couldn’t we all be a little more caring and concerned?

8. To be befriended

Friendships are a commodity that we often take for granted. In a national study of adolescents with autism, 24% of adults with intellectual disabilities reported having no friendships or caring relationships other than those with their support staff or family members. “The relationship networks of students [and individuals] with disabilities tend to be quite different from those of students without similar labels.”

We must be intentional with our relationships and take the responsibility of being the friend that our peers and community members need.

9. To be needed

Individuals with disabilities are “indispensable members” of a congregation who bring indispensable gifts and talents that can bless everyone in a congregation. Finding ways to be ministered to by people with disabilities will truly bless individuals in our faith communities who interact and learn from individuals with disabilities.

Giving all individuals the opportunities to serve will serve us well.

10. To be loved

God sees everyone with value, worth, and love, so why should we strive to see people any differently? Loving people with disabilities and making sure that they feel belonging is not something that should be left to the experts, it is something that we should do ourselves.

Dr. Carter emphasized, “The core needs are not what’s different, but the supports that we have to provide to support people are different…It is through simple actions that all in a congregation will feel welcomed and a sense of ‘belonging.’”

Go here for the full lecture or see below.

Accountability, Agency and the Atonement: Dean Ogles on Moving Forward From Sexual Assault

BYU may not be of the world, but by being in the world, the university and its students still deal with many troubling issues.

Sexual assault is one of them.

In his campus devotional address, Family, Home, and Social Sciences Dean Benjamin Ogles, as a member of the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault, spoke on this poignant topic. He focused on the accountability, agency, and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in relation to sexual assault.

“Sexual assault is a difficult, highly charged, and sometimes political topic not easily discussed in any setting…I did not volunteer to participate on the advisory council and certainly never imagined that I would deliver a devotional focused on the gospel doctrines associated with sexual assault. Yet my experiences led me to this moment where I feel an urgency to address this delicate topic,” said Dean Ogles.

Of the 12, 739 students who answered the question concerning experiences of unwanted contact in the university’s  Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, 475 (3.7%) had experienced some form of such contact while enrolled at or attending BYU in the 12 months prior to the survey. Capture

There were 1,692 surveyed students who reported that they had experienced sexual assault or abuse as a child or adolescent prior to coming to BYU.

Gospel Doctrine

Dean Ogles framed  the discussion of assault in terms of the gospel principles of accountability, agency, divine creative powers, and the Atonement. Agency gives us opportunities, accountability requires us to take responsibility, and the Atonement allows us to repent and progress. In addition, sexual intimacy, when used within the boundaries of marriage, can be positive and healthy.

“Within this doctrinal context, it is easy to see why committing sexual assault is such a grievous sin.  The perpetrator exerts power over another person disregarding their agency and depriving them of their right to control their own physical body while treating them as an object to satisfy their selfish desires,” said Ogles. “Individuals who force or coerce sexual contact engage in one of the most personal and invasive forms of aggression.  The very definition of sexual assault underscores the idea that the perpetrator is denying the agency of the victim.”


“I believe some instances of unwanted sexual contact at BYU occur because one person assumes the other is interested and ‘goes for it’ without ever checking to see if their perception of the other person’s wishes is accurate,” shared Dean Ogles.

To combat this, he suggested asking beforehand and offered the following example: “I like you.  I really enjoy being with you and getting to know you.  Would it be alright if I kissed you?” While some students may hesitate to adopt this approach, fearing that it might “ruin the moment,” Dean Ogles insists that students think about the alternative: jumping to conclusions about consent might “ruin the moment.”

The need to give and respect consent is also an issue in marriage. “When we understand physical intimacy is a profound expression of love, trust, and creative powers within covenant marriage, then the issue of consent becomes even more vital.  Marriage itself is not consent to intimacy.”

Self-Blame and Victim Blaming

One reason people do not come forward and get help after being sexually assaulted is because they blame themselves. They might think that if they had acted differently, the assault would not have happened. Oftentimes, third parties hearing about the assault may think the same.

To illustrate how incorrect these thoughts are, Dean Ogles shared the story of when his family moved to a small town in Ohio. On their first night there, someone broke into their car and stole the items inside. The Dean’s first thoughts were of self-blame: Why didn’t I lock the doors? I should’ve parked away from the street. If only I had been more alert. “I automatically took the blame because I could imagine things that I thought I should have done differently,” said Dean Ogles. His actions, however, never would have changed the fact that what the thief did was illegal and wrong. There was no reason to blame himself. The same is true of victims of sexual assault: no matter what the victim does, the perpetrator’s actions are still illegal and wrong.


Victims of sexual assault can be healed through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  To emphasize this point, Dean Ogles quoted Elder Richard G. Scott’s conference talk To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse:

“Our [Heavenly] Father provided a way to heal the consequences of acts that, through force, misuse of authority, or fear of another, temporarily take away the agency of the abused … That secure healing comes through the power of the Atonement of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to rectify that which is unjust.  Faith in Jesus Christ and in His power to heal provides the abused with the means to overcome the terrible consequences of another’s unrighteous acts.”

Dean Ogles, along with Elder Scott, urge survivors to:

  • Seek professional aid
  • Ask your bishop for help
  • Understand that Satan will try to convince you that there is no hope for your future.

“There is hope!” said Dean Ogles. He advises survivors to read Elder Scott’s talk and to utilize available resources on

How to Help

Dean Ogles offered the following suggestions for helping victims of sexual assault:

  • If someone shares that they have been assaulted, “tell them you believe them, express your concern for them, and encourage them to seek professional help.”
  • Be respectful
  • Don’t tolerate inappropriate speech; if you hear it, stop it
  • Watch out for signals that a relationship is becoming inappropriate

“As we treat one another as children of God, we base our relationships on the love, respect for agency, and kindness necessary to form a stable foundation for eternal relationships.”

When we respect others’ agency, especially in healthy relationships that can lead to, and thereafter enrich, covenant marriage, we have the potential to jointly, mutually, and consensually engage in an intimate and eternal marriage that can bring us a fullness of joy with our families in the presence of our Eternal Father.

The full devotional is available for viewing at and the text will soon be available on the BYU Speeches website.

Madelyn Lunnen contributed to this article. 

2018 Hinckley Lecture: Fostering Belonging, Inclusion, and Friendships for People with Disabilities

New Year’s resolutions often focus on strengthening and improving our lives. They might include strengthening your cooking skills or your muscles, but how about strengthening your home and family?

In the name of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, the late wife of Gordon B. Hinckley, and in honor of her commitment to strengthening home and family, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will hold its fourteenth annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley lecture on February 8th, 2018. The topic for this year’s lecture is Fostering Belonging: Inclusion, MarjorieHinckleyFriendship, and People with  Disabilities” presented by Dr. Erik Carter of Vanderbilt University. In the past years, distinguished scholars have come to BYU to address pertinent issues such as family instability and complexity, social media, and social aggression, and factors that put children and the American future at risk.  

This year’s topic: Inclusions, friendships, and people with disabilities

Disabilities have always been a present aspect of individuals and society but have only recently received the attention and focus they need and deserve. Whether they be mental, physical, or learning disabilities, these impairments often present challenges to individuals and families who deserve the opportunities to succeed.

In his own experience and research Dr. Carter has found that educational, community and religious organizations all play powerful roles in providing opportunities that  help people with disabilities find valued roles, employment, and relationships with their local community members and peers. These relationships themselves go on to unify and strengthen the community as a whole.

During his lecture, Carter will focus on ten aspects of belonging and how attitudes and actions toward people with disabilities can create more meaningful and lasting inclusion in the community.

BYU research and experience

BYU professors have collaborated among themselves and with other scholars to form groups that research and educate on disabilities. One of these groups is Autism Connect which helps families and individuals with autism better understand the disorder and available resources through research. In addition, BYU also puts on the annual Autism Translational Research Workshop to educate on and share best practices in autism.

While research is fundamental to this field, the next step is making sure that people with disabilities and those associated with these individuals are able to receive the access and support for opportunities such as education, jobs, community, and peer relationships. In a recent article by BYU Psychology and Neuroscience professor Mikle South and Associate Clinical Professor Jonathan Cox, BYU’s own environment for supporting individuals with disabilities and autism was observed and critiqued. In order to succeed in post-secondary education, individuals with disabilities may need transitionary programs, “safe spaces” with minimal sensory stimulation where they can take tests, and have support groups or student mentors.


A Community of Inclusion

Success in education and in the community is something that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve. Just like no one should be excluded from receiving an education or job, no one should feel excluded in their community. It is detrimental that we look to establish friendships and relationships with people who need our support.

Learn how to foster belonging within your community through inclusion and friendship with people with disabilities by attending the fourteenth annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture on February 8th, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hinckley Assembly Hall. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. Individuals from the BYU community, families, community leaders, and educators will greatly benefit from Dr. Carter’s presentation.

Finance and the Gospel: Using Gospel Principles as the Foundation for Family Finance

Living joyfully within your means can seem like an oxymoron when you’re a poor college student who can afford nothing but Ramen and oatmeal.

Money and finances can be large burdens– especially when you’re a young student family. Both patience and relationships are tested as you decide what to cut out of your lifestyle to minimize expenses. These trials are testing and  real, but BYU Family Life professor Jeff Hill and Finance professor Bryan Sudweeks suggest that we see these

fam finance
Courtesy of BYU Bookstore.

problems with a new perspective: “The single most important lesson [in finance] is the importance of bringing Christ into our personal and family finances.”

In Professors Hill and Sudweek’s book Fundamentals of Family Finance: Living Joyfully within your Means, the core text for SFL 260: Family Finance, we learn that finance is not only something we deal with in mortality, but that it is something that is based in gospel principles and will affect us for eternity. While money does not buy true eternal happiness, in the words of Professor Hill, “money makes important things possible” to help us grow in this life and prepare for the future, such as family resources and education.

Keeping an Eternal Perspective

Finance isn’t just about getting rich, it’s about  “prudent financial management so you can more fully bless yourself, your family, and others.” But again, where do we draw the line between focusing on money and finances because we need to and focusing on worldly possessions instead of the Kingdom of God?

According to Hill and Sudweeks, the key is keeping an eternal perspective.

If we make it a point to remember that everything belongs to God and that we are simply the stewards over the things he blesses us with, we will remember to be grateful and responsible with what we have. When it comes down to it, our finances and the stewardship of resources should be the “temporal application of spiritual principles.” We have agency to decide how we use our resources, and we will are accountable for these actions.

In summary, “with very dollar you spend, you choose which perspective you will take– either the eternal perspective or the world’s materialistic perspective. The sooner you understand that managing your finances is part of living the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greater your motivation will be to obey the commandments and get your financial house in order…. With an eternal perspective, we can be laying up for ourselves true “treasures in heaven” while simultaneously planning for our careers and supporting out families.”

A Family Ordeal

“Share finances as equal partners in your marriage” counsel Hill and Sudweeks. You, your spouse, and your current or future children will all have different opinions on how brooke-cagle-170053to use resources and money. While it may seem easier to do it all yourself, this responsibility must be shared equally between you and your spouse. Budget as a family, and be honest and transparent about you financial past, plans, and current spending.  As stated by David O. McKay, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” No amount of extra time or money will make up for losing your family.

Also, as you learn financial principles yourself, share and teach them to your spouse and children; the principles of hard work, thrifty living, and saving can benefit your present and future. Families who love each other share financial wisdom.

Living Within your Means

Adobe Spark (51)There are things that we really want and there are things that we really need. When figuring out how to have these things, it is detrimental that you budget according to your/your family’s needs and the money and resources that are currently available to you. This might mean that you don’t drive the nicest car now (or drive a car at all), but that you live comfortably from the resources and money you currently have. Sacrificing  what you want now will often allow you to have what you want most in the future. As Robert D. Hales said, “the three most loving words are ‘I love you,’ and the four most caring words for those we love are, ‘We can’t afford it.'”

Prioritizing your spending and finding happiness in your current situation is how you go from living within your means to living joyfully within your means.

Plan for the Future

Planning is essential to successful finances and preparedness. To plan for the array of financial situations that you will or may face in life

  • Make family goals (then work to achieve them!)
  • Have food storage, a 72-hour kit, and monetary savings
  • Invest “early, consistently, and wisely” and remember “TTT: Things Take Time”
  • Get insurance to protect yourself and your family
  • Make a plan to minimize and eliminate any debt
  • Establish a habit of saving and set money aside every time you get paid.

Share with Others

Of his own young family, Professor Sudweeks shared that they “learned the importance of giving: that God shovels it to us, and we shovel it back (and God has a bigger shovel).” Prioritize giving back to others and the Lord by paying your tithing and contributing a generous fast offering. Like Professor Sudweeks shared, God is constantly shoveling blessings and resources our way, he just asks that we shovel a little back. Likewise, remember the law of consecration; all that we have is God’s and we have a responsibility and calling to be responsible stewards and efficiently share our resources with others.

“It is not so difficult to accomplish your monetary and spiritual goals if you build your finances upon a firm foundation: the gospel of Jesus Christ.” As we work to progress in all aspects in our lives, we will find joy as we support and uplift ourselves and others through responsible and gospel-based financial principles and practice.


Talking About Pornography: an Upcoming Event

Pornography can be a painful topic to talk about, but not talking about it can hurt you and your loved ones even more.

“In religious cultures, sex is kind of a taboo topic, which means we tend not to talk about it very much,” shared BYU School of Family Life Professor Brian Willoughby in a Universe article earlier this year. But just because religious individuals do not talk about pornography as often does not mean that they are free from its reach.


In a study that he co-authored with graduate students Nathan Leonhardt and Bonnie Young-Petersen this past spring, Willoughby found that religious individuals are more likely to experience unhappiness and depression from their pornography use and are more likely to see themselves as addicted to pornography “regardless of how often they use the material.” These individuals will in turn experience greater relationship anxiety, feelings of powerlessness and more anxiety about talking about their pornography use with others, leading to dissatisfaction and damage in relationships.

With pornography becoming more accessible and pornography use becoming more prominent, it is important that parents and spouses know the truth about pornography and how it effects their families.

To That End…An Event on January 10th

families at risk
Courtesy of BYU Continuing Education

Keep your family safe from pornography’s negative influences by learning how to discuss it with your loved ones and learning strategies on how to deal with pornography at the Families at Risk lecture, Understanding the Modern Threat of Pornography: Myths and Reality, given by Professor Brian Willoughby. The lecture will take place on January 10, 2018 at the BYU Conference Center. “We need to be able to have a more open dialogue on this issue,” said Professor Willoughby. He encourages everyone to take an active role in learning about the harms of pornography and how to keep their families safe.

brian_willoughbyProfessor Brian J. Willoughby is an associate professor in the BYU School of Family Life and is considered an expert in couple and marital relationships, sexuality, and emerging adult development. Professor Willoughby has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these topics, currently serves on the editorial board for four journals, and was elected as a full member of the International Academy of Sex Research. In addition to teaching several classes at BYU, Professor Willoughby often appears on media and news outlets to share his research and expertise. Professor Willoughby has been married to his wife Cassi for 15 years and together they have four children.



A Study About Discriminatory Loan Practices Today

According to the Federal Reserve, the average wealth of a white household was about six times greater than that of the average African American household and five times greater than the wealth of the average Latino household in 2013. Racial disparities in wealth grew wider than they’d been in decades after the 2008 recession, and led to disinvestment in neighborhoods and unequal opportunities for individuals who were of different races. What’s the culprit for this imbalance and inequality? Limited access to “good homes in high-quality neighborhoods,” according to BYU Sociology professor Jacob Rugh, among others. And the culprit for this limited access? High cost, high risk loans. When borrowing to purchase homes in past years, African American borrowers were two times more likely to receive a subprime loan that white borrowers.

Jacob Rugh
Copyright BYU Photo 2012
All Rights Reserved

Rugh and researchers like him are honing their interest on the changes made to the federal loan system in the years leading up to the US housing crisis and how this system created higher risk loans for minorities, perpetuating racial residential segregation in urban America. In a recent article co-authored by Dr. Rugh, he and his colleagues shared their analysis of 220 accounts in recent fair lending federal court cases involving discriminatory lending practices. The largest take-away? Loan originators utilized a number of mechanisms to identify and gain the trust of African American and Latino borrowers to place them in higher-cost and higher-risk loans.


The Past vs. Today- Same Issue, Different Way

“Historically,” says Rugh, “[the racial] disparities [in wealth] have been driven by multiple forms of discrimination…including white mob violence against African-Americans trying to move into formerly all-white neighborhoods, municipal segregation ordinances prohibiting residence by blacks on predominantly white blocks, …racially restrictive covenants barring the future sale of a property to non-whites, [and] redlining, or [denying] credit to [individuals in] non-white residential areas.”

Multiple studies have already documented that African American and Latino borrowers were frequently charged more for mortgage loans than similarly-situated white borrowers. What makes Rugh et al’s study unique is that it identifies the specific institutional- and individual-level mechanisms used to perpetuate those actions.

In the 1980s and 1990s, several federal legislative acts were passed to ensure that minorities were not being excluded from loan or housing opportunities. These new lending practices, however, also made loan profits come largely from fees and the gap between the prevailing interest rate index and the rate paid by the borrower. Enticing loan officers to go for quick profits, loan originators began to exploit rather than exclude minorities as they offered these individuals risky, high-cost financial services that only furthered financial and societal disparities between whites and minorities.

Adobe Spark (34)


Tactics in Unfair Lending


Steering mortgage borrowers toward subprime loans, even if they qualified for prime loans, became common practice for many loan originators. “Put quite simply, loan originators wishing to maximize profits had to convince customers with good credit to accept higher cost, higher risk lending products,” says Rugh et al, whose analysis shows that originators explicitly targeted neighborhoods with large shares of black and Latino residents for those high-cost loans. They sought data sources that were thought to indicate a lack of financial sophistication and a desire for credit in the individuals listed, mailed “live” draft checks of $1,000 to $1,500 to people with medium to low credit scores, and if those checks were cashed, turned them into loans with interest rates as high as 29% and then targeted those individuals for home equity refinance loans.

Perhaps worse, though, or more indicative of motivation based on race, were the methods they used to gain the trust of those potential borrowers. According to Rugh, “qualitative evidence suggests that loan originators often gained the confidence of potential borrowers through the use of trusted co-ethnic intermediaries in community service organizations and churches. Solicitations for high-cost subprime loans in predominantly black communities were promoted through ‘wealth building seminars’ held in churches and community centers at which ‘alternative lending’ was discussed. No such solicitations were made in predominantly white neighbourhoods or churches (Jacobson, 2010). Some loan institutions made marketing materials that directly targeted minority individuals. In one case, a loan officer stated that his office held the attitude that minority customers “weren’t savvy enough to know they were getting a bad loan.”


Making Needed Changes

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, making necessary changes to the federal loan system and prohibiting loan originators from steering borrowers into higher cost loans when they qualify for better mortgages. Racial residential segregation and the “wide gap in social distance between decision-makers at mainstream financial institutions and communities of color,” however, remains an issue today, according to Rugh and others. What can policymakers, lenders, consumer protection groups, and individuals do to discourage such practices? In a 2015 study done by Rugh of the Baltimore housing market, he suggested:

  • implementing or advocating the implementation of increased civil rights enforcement by institutionalizing ongoing audits and other cost-effective means to monitor racial disparities and increase transparency in ways that remediate systematic patterns at the level of structure and policies rather than isolated acts of individuals.
  • offering only safe, fixed-rate mortgages and down payment ratios that make home ownership, wealth accumulation, and social mobility accessible for borrowers of color.
  • owning other assets besides a mortgage, thus reducing your risk.


Instability Among Underprivileged Families: a Cause and Consequence of Poverty

We’d like to believe that the largest difficulty in a child’s life would be not finding the exact color of crayon they’d need to finish drawing a picture. But with the rise of divorce and single parent families, children are forced to live with more and more instability in their lives. “The rate of family change that we’re seeing in the first five years of life is simply overwhelming children’s ability to cope,” stated Dr. Kathryn Edin at the 2017 Hinckley Lecture.

While levels of family instability and complexity are at an all time high, these difficult situations are disproportionately found among disadvantaged families rather than the American population as a whole. The unplanned birth of children into unestablished and young relationships are both the consequence and cause of poverty.

Learn more about the trapping impact of poverty on individuals and the consequential instability in families by watching this excerpt from Dr. Edin’s lecture.

This post is one of many in a series of videos available on our BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Collaborating for Champions: Students and the Senior Games

The athletes’ muscles tense as their ears ring, waiting to hear the starting buzzer. In the instant the buzzer sounds, the athletes rush from the blocks and the fans let out a roar of cheering. Sitting in the stands, you may think that you’re at an Olympics qualifying event…until you realize that the athletes are all over the age of 50. The Huntsman World Senior Games, held annually in St. George, hosts about 11,000 athletes in events similar to those of the Rio Olympics. Our own Gerontology Department helps sponsor this event because it helps students gain significant, high-quality training and learning experience while representing BYU. At this past October’s games, there were 67 students from various majors across the BYU campus volunteering at the event, producing around 3,000 volunteer hours, and of these 67 students, 16 were studying something within the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, and seven of those were Gerontology minors.


One of them, Oleg Mironchenko, shared that at the Senior Games he learned alot about the joy that good health can bring to an individual as they age. He said: “It has changed my perception about getting old and has served as a motivator to take care of my body while I am young.” His  fellow volunteer and Gerontology minor Tyler Brown added that “this was an incredible experience to open your eyes to another side of getting older. You see the people who care about taking care of their bodies and you gain hope in having an independent and fulfilling life throughout your lifetime.”

As Gerontology students have learned, aging is a lot more than getting wrinkles and discounts at restaurants. It’s about taking care of your health and embracing every opportunity and especially every sporting event at the Senior Games. As said by Gerontology student Sarah Rogers, “seeing older adults play at such a competitive level reminded me how important it was to stay healthy and physically active throughout my life.”

Service and Education

Volunteering at the Games is a true combination of service and education. Students provide health screenings three full days during each of the two weeks of the Games. This year, an estimated 3,000 unique athletes went through at least several aspects of the health screenings. “In some cases these health screenings have had life-saving implications for the participants,” said Hager. “Every year we are…able to identify a few of the games participants who have no idea regarding life-threatening health risks they are experiencing…. We even have participants return the next year telling students that this station saved their life based on their previous years screening results  and their follow-up with their regular doctors. That is pretty gratifying for me and even more so for the students.”

11Regarding the educational value of the service for students, BYU Exercise Science professor Ron Hager, who has helped to ensure the quality of care, services, and screenings that volunteers provide for athletes since 1990 along side UVU nursing professor Gary Measom, says that part of his dedication for the Games is connected to the quality educational experience they provide for students. “For me, there are many facets to an education,” he said. “There is traditional in-class learning and instruction, but there is also the practical application of what is being learned, and even research opportunities,” shared Hager. “I feel like the students get great hands-on opportunities when they attend the games and many are involved in data collection for research projects at the undergraduate and graduate levels. For many students it is a complete paradigm shift in terms of what it means to get older as they interact with senior athletes who are committed to an active and healthy lifestyle into their later years.”


Impacting Athlete (and Student) Lives

16The Games tend to become more than just excellent service and educational experience, though. Hager reports: “Nearly every student I talk to has said that the Games volunteer experience has been one of the best experiences they have had while at BYU… Students not only make lasting friendships with other BYU students and students from other universities, but also with the athletes.”

Competitions aren’t all about winning, but as Professor Hager has shared, conducting health screenings at the Huntsman World Senior Games is “a win-win-win-win for the students, the Games, the Games participants, and myself [as an educator].”



The Total Solar Eclipse of 1878: Lighting the Path for Science in America

david baron
Courtesy of

How do you get 100 history and astronomy students in the same room on a Thursday afternoon? You give them a lecture by awarded journalist David Baron on “Edison and the Eclipse that Enlightened America.” Baron, a science and environmental journalist and recent Charles Redd Center guest lecturer, saw an eclipse in Aruba in 1998 and has since dedicated his time and research to exploring and experiencing these astronomical phenomena and telling the stories behind them.

Eclipse Chasing Now

While there was lots of commotion about the recent 2017 total solar eclipse, a total solar eclipse passes over earth’s surface every 18 months. The path of totality, when the sun is completely covered by the moon, is only 100 miles wide, making the viewing of a total eclipse a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many individuals. In the day and age of cars and airplanes, eclipse chasing is relatively easy with the internet, a pair of glasses from Amazon, and a car ride. In the late 1800’s, however, eclipse chasing was quite the ordeal, and it was primarily this that Baron discussed at the lecture.

Eclipse Chasing 1878

14760792356_1c969e822b_zThe year was 1878. Manifest Destiny was the United States’ call to action, the transcontinental railroad was moving people across the plains, and America was striving to carve out a unique spot in the landscape of worldwide scientific discovery. Solar eclipses were critical to physical and astronomical discoveries at the time, and Europeans were monopolizing these scientific experiences and discoveries. That is, until a total solar eclipse was forecast to cross the American West in 1878.

This was an opportunity for Americans to show that they could compete intellectually with the rest of the world. The government recruited scientists, astronomers, and everyday citizens alike to “crowd source” information on the sun and its corona. Everyone in the western United States would have less than three minutes to make the most important astronomical observations of their lifetime.

Notable Participants

Three individuals in particular stood out among the group of government-recruited scholars:

  1. James Craig Watson of the University of Michigan’s Detroit Observatory was one of the most recognized “planet hunters” of his age. He discovered a number of asteroids and sought to discover a new asteroid planet during the eclipse.
  2. Maria Mitchell was the most famous female scientist and astronomer of the 1800’s and was a teacher at Vassar College in New York when news of the eclipse rang out. Mitchell organized a group of women to go west to study the eclipse and show society that women can be smart, educated, healthy, and feminine to boot.
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    Courtesy of cea+

    Thomas Edison had just been dubbed the “Wizard of Menlo Park” for his invention of the phonograph and was anxious to test his new invention, the tasimeter, to detect changes of heat during the eclipse. This was Edison’s chance to prove that he was not only an inventor but a serious scientist as well.

Not to be Left in the Shadows

At the end of the three minutes of darkness and scientific enlightenment, according to Baron, Edison was inspired to look into light and power (a possible influence on his future invention of the light bulb), the tasimeter was claimed as a success, Mitchell successfully advocated female higher education, Watson claimed to find the asteroid planet Vulcan (which was later proved unreal, but would give Watson something to defend for the rest of his life), and the American public came together to make what newspapers called the “most important observations ever made.”

“Eclipses inevitably reveal much about ourselves,” said Baron in American Eclipse, a book he wrote about the 1878 eclipse. “What we see in them reflects our own longings and fears.” Baron’s descriptions of America’s reaction to the 1878 eclipse, in his book and his lecture here on campus, capture a nation longing for success. The book was published earlier this year with the support of the Charles Redd Center. During his research for the book, Baron was able to visit many of the sites connected to the 1878 eclipse and see the collections of drawings and observations of the eclipse that were collected from American citizens and are now housed in the Library of Congress.

Follow the Redd Center for more events concerning the history of the American West.

How have your eclipse experiences impacted your own life?