Honored Alumni Larry Eastland to Speak on His “Decade of Decisions”

Larry Eastland is a bit of a renaissance man to say the least. He plays multiple instruments at a professional level, is a combat-decorated US Marine Corps officer, BYU graduate, USC political science masters and doctorate graduate, has served four US Presidents in a number of national and international positions, has held numerous church callings, leads an international business advisory group, and is a loving husband, father, and now grandfather to 16 grandchildren.

While individuals may think that Eastland’s greatest decisions might have occurred while working in the White House or developing his business, he personally feels that “the decade from 18 to 28 is when the great decisions of life are made.” Between mission, marriage, family, career, education, and testimony, when individuals are in their 20’s they are determining the rest of their lives with the decisions they make, big and small, every day. 

The  impactful experiences that arose in Larry Eastland’s life were all possible because of the decisions he made in that very important decade, he says. In that important decade, he was a BYU student involved in campus organizations, served a mission in Berlin, Germany, served in the United States Marine Corps, fulfilled numerous callings in the church, worked in the U.S. Senate, married his wife, and began his further education in Political Science at U.S.C.

Eastland’s determination to stay close to the spirit and his love for service guided him to make the decisions that blessed his own life and allowed him to further bless his country and those around him. The choices made in Eastland’s youth led to experiences and blessings that affected not only him and his family, but everyone and everything he has been involved with.

“For most people, the rest [of life] is fulfilling what was laid as a foundation during this decade, ” Eastland shared. Larry Eastland laid his foundation well and has had incredible opportunities as a result.

What kind of a foundation have we and are we laying with the decisions we make? Share your thoughts below and continue pondering how your own decade from the ages of 18-28 have and will impact your life at Dr, Eastland’s Alumni Achievement Lecture, “My Decade of Decisions.” The lecture will take place Thursday, October 5 in room 250 in the Spencer W. Kimball Tower at 11 am. All are welcome to attend.

 

When You Can Ignore Your Kids, According to Positive Parenting Expert Denise Barney

This post is nineteenth in a series of videos available in our new 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.

Bette Davis once said: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” Parenting is hard! In a recent lecture to the alumni of the School of Family Life, Family Studies graduate Denise Barney spoke about age-typical behaviors of children and how parents can move past them.

“When my daughter was around 16 or 17,” Barney said, “she became less focused on her family and more focused on her friends. She only wanted to spend time with the latter.” Understandably, Barney found this upsetting. However, she eventually came to realize that that’s just how teenagers act. Her attitude went from offense to understanding: “If someone had told me that was totally age-typical, that all teenagers at the age are self-absorbed. And it wasn’t because she hated us. It was just that she was being…normal. So, once I understood that, the rest of our kids at that age: ‘Be on your way, go be with your friends, hallelujah!’” According to Barney, if you ignore your child’s age-typical negative behavior, it will go away.

In this two-minute video, she talks about her experience, as well as the kinds of behaviors that can’t be ignored. The full lecture can be viewed here.

 

Denise is an expert in the Power of Positive Parenting, a parenting manual written by Dr. Glen Latham, having taught classes on it for 15 years. She is also the mother of six children ages 30 to 17.

 

 

Clinical Psychology PhD Receive Prestigious Post Docs in Pediatric Neuropsychology

Two BYU clinical psychology PhD graduates,  Ashley Levan and Ann Clawson, received prestigious post docs in pediatric neuropsychology.

Ashley Levan

Capturelkj;lkj;lkjLevan received her PhD in clinical psychology from BYU in 2016. Her dissertation research studied children with epileptic and non-epileptic seizures and learned how their social and executive functioning skills were affected by those seizures. Levan also researched social and cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury in children.

Levan has practiced and researched at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Children’s National is a leading clinical and research institution, ranked best in the nation for children, and has been around since 1870.  Dr. Levan was accepted into the Pediatric Neuropsychology concussion and mild traumatic brain injury track.

As a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s National Medical Center, Levan’s clinical work focused on completing neuropsychological evaluations with children and adolescents with concussion, autism spectrum disorders, and additional neurodevelopmental and acquired conditions, according to Leesa Scott of the psychology department.  Levan also examines academic outcomes in pediatric concussion populations.

Ann Clawson

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At BYU, Clawson graduated in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral program with an emphasis in neuropsychology. She continues her training as a postdoctoral fellow in pediatric neuropsychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Kennedy Krieger Institute is an internationally recognized facility dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with pediatric developmental disabilities through patient care, special education, research and professional training.

In her post doc program, Clawson is developing skills and knowledge through working with a variety of children and youth in the oncology, genetic/congenital, and epilepsy clinics. Clawson is receiving specialized training in autism spectrum disorder. She continues her research in autism and am currently involved in a project examining neuropsychological outcomes in autism.

“I am incredibly grateful for my current opportunities, and for all those at BYU whose guidance and support have helped me succeed,” Clawson said.

 

We’re proud of the great work Doctors Levan and Clawson are doing to expand knowledge of pediatric psychology and development!

Alumni: YOU can Make a Difference by Being a Mentor

Author Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Alumni, how did you get to where you are now? How did you get started? Did you know that you can help current BYU students get their start? Mentoring is an easy way to give back your alma mater.

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Benefits for Current Students

What are the benefits for students? Steve O’Brian, Customer Success team leader at Chronus, a company that designs software that facilitates those mentoring relationships, lists them as:

  1. Help finding jobs:Smart universities are improving job placement rates after graduation by developing students and alumni through mentoring programs. These development programs connect and enhance a student’s networks to provide them with better tools for their job search.” Have you ever had someone who taught you the tricks of the trade? How helpful was it? Wouldn’t you want to do the same for someone else?                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Encouragement: Getting a college education can be difficult. Alumni members of all professions and backgrounds can make a difference by mentoring and encouraging current students. You can help give them the confidence and boost they need to continue their education and to succeed.

However, it isn’t just students that benefit from mentoring: You can too!

Benefits for Alumni who Mentor

Here are three ways you as an alumni can benefit from mentoring a current BYU student:

  1. Stay involved: Professor Sarah Stanley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said, “Often alumni want to become involved in activities that further promote and serve the university, and being a mentor allows them to become involved.” There are other ways to be involved than by donating money. If you aren’t in the position to give financially but still want give back to BYU, then look into mentoring!                     people-office-group-team
  2. Recruit workers: When you mentor, you establish a relationship with a student. You’re passing on the skills of your trade and teaching them how to thrive in the workforce. By the time they graduate, your student will most likely need a job, and since you’ve already trained them, they make good ideal candidates.
  3. Feel happier and healthier:  “Generosity has been found to reduce stress, increase longevity, and produce happiness hormones,” says Sandra Gurvis of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. “When [people] helped others, they felt more energetic and stronger and even experienced a sense of euphoria, or ‘helper’s high.'” By mentoring and being generous with your time, you help others and yourself. Says BYU Psychology professor Brent Slife in his soon-to-be-released book Frailty and Flourishing: “Self-benefit and other-benefit are usually and naturally co-mingled because relationships and mutual activity are central to a good human life. Attempting to separate them into egoistic and altruistic activities is a pointless distraction from the primary business of acting well together.”

It’s obvious that mentoring a student will greatly impact their college experience and future career while strengthening your relationship with BYU and making you overall happier. It’s a win-win. So why not take the plunge? Here are some websites to help you out:

BYU Career Services

For General Mentoring: Alumni Career Services

For Political Science Alumni: BYU Political Affairs Society

For Economics Alumni: Alumni Mentoring Program

Did you have an alumni mentor?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Dr. Edin defines family instability and complexity

Part 1: The Problem

“By the time a child of unwed parents turns five, 23 percent of them have 3 half siblings,” said Dr. Kathryn Edin at our most recent Hinckley lecture. Edin’s decades-long ethnographic research about low-income families revealed that:

  • 78% of families are unstable and complex
  • 18% are stable two-parent families
  • 4% are stable single mother families

Family or relationship instability refers to the forming, breaking, reforming, breaking cycle of family life. This cycle of parents not staying together leaves the child with many parental figures who enter and leave their life, often while the child is very young. “In the first five years of a child who belongs to unmarried parents,” she said, “twelve percent of these children see one parent transition; 30 percent of children see three or more parent transitions in the first five years of their life.”

“Family instability and complexity,” she said, “are both consequences and causes of poverty. It is more common among low-income families. And they are at an all time high.”

These causes and consequences are parts of a difficult and complex societal issue, but her research provides both illumination for every member of society wondering how to help, and suggestions for improvement at the public policy level. That research began decades ago when she began roaming the country in her 20’s interviewing poor single mothers about their budgets. In her 30’s, she sought to get a more complete picture by focusing on the stories and laments of single fathers.

A major cause of family complexity and instability in poverty: unplanned pregnancy

captureNow as a distinguished sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, she investigates low-income and middle class family planning styles. These observations have proven crucial to discovering how to lessen family instability and complexity.

She found that those in low-income families often had unplanned or ill-timed pregnancies in non-committal relationships. Children tended to come along when the parents were still trying to “find themselves.”

In contrast, middle-class families meticulously planned and timed births. Parents were in a stable and committed relationship, often marriage. Parents had children when they both had “arrived” in a career-sense—they were confident with who they were and they felt fulfilled. Children who were born into families like the second scenario had a better upbringing in a more stable family.

The key lesson Edin learned in her 30s: “Moving the needle on mobility from poverty must include the family contexts into which children are born and raised. This is not a popular opinion, but I became convinced this was essential.”

With all of this in mind, Edin asked: “What would it take to ensure that every child can be planned and well-timed?” The answer? SPARKS (Supported Pathways through the Arts, Recreation, Knowledge, and Schools). Children and teens who have a SPARK identify themselves outside of their hard home life—they find themselves. They make better family decisions.

Stay tuned to fhss.byu.edu for more posts about how to help low-income families become more stable as we provide further coverage of the Hinckley lecture and explanation of SPARKS.

You can view the whole lecture here:

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

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

1. Do your research

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

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

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

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

2. Seek to Understand and Engage

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

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

 

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Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

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

3. Create Safety

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

 

Alumni Spotlight: Margaret Busse, Volunteer Extraordinaire

Photo from LinkedIn.com
Photo from LinkedIn.com

Margaret Busse is an engaged member of her community.  As a Chair of the Acton Massachusetts Finance Committee, Busse advises the town on its proposed initiatives. She is an Associate Director of Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative.  She has organized conferences on family issues.   Of the benefits of getting involved, she says: “getting to know so many various people is the best part. There are so many opportunities to do that, you basically just have to stand up and say ‘I’m here, I want to help.’ I think having people that are willing to do that is one of the most important things for a community to have.”

When she was at BYU, she double majored in Economics and Political Science in only four years, then completed her master’s degree in public policy.  Her influence blossomed while at the university, where she was involved as vice president of the Social Enterprise club, and sang in the women’s chorus.  After graduation, she interned in D.C., worked for the U.S. Treasury Department, and consulted with the nonprofit advising agency Bridgespan Group. Currently, she serves as a member of BYU’s National Advisory Council, which influences curriculum development, student career development, and alumni relations.  She is a full-time mother to her children.

She is wonder woman with kids and degrees.  She married Franz Busse after receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School. They live in Massachusetts with their five children. “It [was] an interesting twelve years [not] working,” she says. “It’s certainly not the profile for people who graduated from Harvard Business School, and it’s certainly not the profile for people to have four or five children either,” Busse says of motherhood, “So it’s been kind of an interesting path that I’ve taken, but I’ve been really happy that I’ve taken it.”

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is honored to have given Margaret Busse her springboard. Like future wonder woman Rachel Stone, also a Political Science major, she is an inspiration!

Are you or someone you know a BYU Alumni? Submit your story and be featured on the website!

Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Wilms, Founder of Pop ‘n Sweets

Who can start a business, take it from the ground up, and turn it into one of the best sweet shops in the entire state of Utah? The candy man, in the person of Christopher Wilms, can! A recent attendee of Brigham Young University’s Economics department, Wilms and his wife went on to found Pop ‘N Sweets, a candy and soda parlor whose purpose is to “make the world a better place one candy bar at a time.”

Of his experience at school, he says: “BYU was great for networking and making friendships that I hope to never lose.” He also praised the low cost of such a high-quality education. However, Wilms felt restricted by the academic environment. One day, while driving with his wife, they came up with the idea of opening a sweets shop–and they actually decided to try it out. That’s how Pop’nSweets came to be, in September of 2013.

Pop’nSweets sells exactly what it says: pop and sweets. With five locations already open throughout Utah, business is booming and the sky appears to be the limit. “So far, it’s been crazy fun,” Wilms said. “It’s something that is easy to duplicate, so opening more stores hasn’t been hard. It’s fun because of how different it is and how awesome it is to see people reflect on the stuff they can find there.”

“My favorite aspect [of the business] is watching people enjoy the experience of all the different products we offer,” he continued, referencing the 300+ different flavors of soda that can be found in his stores. “Honestly, this is a concept that can go anywhere–even internationally, especially because we import products from other countries. I think the most important thing for the future of Pop’nSweets is . . . setting up the store in the most customer friendly way possible.”

In 2015, he was honored by the Utah Student 25, a non-profit corporation that honors the top student-founded companies in the state. One of the other awardees, Ryan Caldwell, founder and CEO of MX, compared the Utah community of entrepreneurs to a forest of redwood trees:

“Utah finds itself in this very unique situation where it’s in this magical stage of a startup ecosystem. If you look at Utah about a decade ago, you had two massive redwoods – WordPerfect and Novell. These powerhouses, these great redwoods started to shed branches. And those branches being shed were people who had developed very big skills – they learn business lessons and how to run big companies. And that resource, that wealth of nutrients, falls to the ground as the branches shed and it creates this dense cover that allows other trees to grow.”

When he’s not busy making the world taste good, Wilms is spending time with his family. He has a wife and two children, a two-year-old daughter and a two-month-old son.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Dee Allsop, Powerhouse Connector

deeDee Allsop is a powerhouse of a man, having been a strategist who worked at the highest level of American politics during the Ronald Reagan administration, and as a former president of the BYU Alumni Association. He graduated in political science, obtained both a masters and a doctorate from The Ohio State University, and achieved many great things in that arena, but then turned his professional attention to the science of  helping companies understand people, clients, and the decisions they make, at Heart+Mind Strategies. Through all of his endeavors is woven the power of connection, the desire to help politicians, companies, and people connect with each other.

As president of the Alumni Association, he said: “[The spirit of the Y] needs to be cultivated in the communities where people live—not just in their cities, but in their professional, global, and social communities as well.” As CEO of Wirthlin Worldwide from 2002 to 2004,  and then as president of Harris Interactions Groups, a company dedicated to administering surveys that measure public opinion in the U.S.  about the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public on subjects such as politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles. While employed at these companies, (2004-10) he also worked as the president of the BYU Board of Alumni. In addition, he was the BYU Alumni Association president from 2009-14. Currently, he serves on the Family, Home, and Social Sciences National Advisory Council. His passion for and ability to help businesses identify and leverage their connections has won him multiple awards, including the Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award for Beltway Campaign in 2008, the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Award for “The New Steel” in 2000, and the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollster of the Year” in 2000.      

He’s an example to all of the power of initiative and education. Of BYU, Allsop says, “BYU did many wonderful things in my life, and I have much gratitude to the university and the people there.” This is made evident through his far-reaching service to the university.

If you are an alumni of BYU’s School of Family Life, or any of the nine other departments in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, we’d like to hear your story! Please share with us your accomplishments, your stories of service and inspiration. Share them at Rise.byu.edu. And don’t forget to join us on October 13th at 11 am in SWKT 250 to listen to Alumni Achievement Award Honoree Bridgitte Madrian speak on household financial decision making.

Where Will You Go With Your Major?

Alumni Brigitte Madrian to Speak on Household Financial Decision-Making

Keeping track of one’s monthly expenses can perhaps seem a fruitless task in light of the often meager incomes that college students receive. But it is during those college years when mastering one’s finances is so crucial, both because it enables them to spread those meager incomes farther and to learn and implement money management skills that will provide the basis for a happy family life after college. Whether you are an FHSS student, faculty, or alumni, financial awareness is crucial to your peace and security, now and in the future. On October 13th, alum Brigitte Madrian will be speaking on how to make smart financial decisions, and how to avoid common financial mistakes. All are invited.

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Who is Brigitte Madrian?

Doctor Madrian is respected as an authority on the matter of household finances. She graduated from BYU with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, and went on to obtain a PhD in the same subject from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has since been on the faculty of several universities and authored a book, as well as a plethora of studies in peer-reviewed academic journals. Madrian co-directs the Household Finance working group of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Today, she is the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Legislation regarding employer-sponsored 401(k) plans been impacted because of Madrian’s research, according to Ideas42, a nonprofit working to apply cutting-edge behavioral insights to some of the world’s toughest social problems. Since her days as a cougar, Madrian used skills gained from her education and research to help many people make smarter financial decisions. Whether you are an E-con major, or just trying to be the master of your money, there is something in her lecture for you.

Are you in control of your money, or is your money in control of you?

 

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Brigitte Madrian at a Cougar football game with her family