College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Valedictorians Announced

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has many outstanding students graduating this April. We are grateful for the hard work and scholarship of each graduating senior and the example of excellence set by the valedictorians in the college. Meet each department’s 2022 valedictorian!

Political Science: Kesley Townsend

Kesley Townsend

Kesley Brooke Townsend, a political science major with a political strategy emphasis and minors in history and sociology, is the oldest child of John and Cindy Powell. She was raised in Richland, Washington, and developed a passion for U.S. political history at a young age. During her time at BYU, she conducted original research as a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy and worked as a research assistant for Professors Goodliffe, Preece, Pope, and Argyle. Kesley interned at TargetPoint Consulting while participating in the Washington Seminar program and worked as a political strategy advisor on a U.S. senate campaign. She was president of the BYU Women in Politics organization and a writer for the Political Review. Kesley will begin a research fellowship at TargetPoint Consulting this summer and looks forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in political science in 2023. She is incredibly grateful for the mentorship provided by BYU faculty and the continued support of her family and friends. 

Geography: Kellie Haddon

Kellie Haddon

Kellie Haddon is a geography major with an emphasis in global studies and minors in international development and sociology. While at BYU, Kellie had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Brandon Plewe on the Mormon Places project during her freshman year and worked as a teaching assistant for Chad Emmett’s Political Geography class for the past two semesters. She is excited to end her time at BYU on the Multicultural Europe study abroad with Jill Knapp during spring term. This year Kellie was also heavily involved in the club Students for International Development as one of its presidents. She will begin graduate school in the fall in American University’s MA International Development program in Washington, D.C. Kellie served as a missionary in Cebu, Philippines and enjoys painting, hiking, and exploring new places. She has lived in six states but mainly grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Kellie is grateful for her incredible family, friends, professors, and mentors for their continual support throughout her time at BYU.

Psychology: Reilly O’Coyle Reid

Reilly O’Coyle Reid

Reilly O’Coyle Reid, a psychology major with a minor in business, is from Henderson, Nevada. The oldest of four girls, Reilly is grateful for her loving parents and the special relationship she has with her sisters. During her time at BYU, Reilly came to appreciate the vast educational opportunities available at this university, and is always searching for the chance to research and teach. She began her undergraduate education as a business major and enjoyed learning about finance, economics, and accounting. Reilly later discovered that studying psychology would fulfill her passion of helping individuals, families, and couples heal. Her research emphasis is in clinical psychology and mental health services. She is inspired by studying psychology and is thrilled to continue her education in BYU’s Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program in August. Reilly is grateful for her professors, classmates, friends and family who have supported her as she completed her bachelor’s degree.

History: Pamela Peterson

Pamela Peterson

Pamela Peterson attended BYU as a non-traditional student for the last 13 years while raising a family of six children — her greatest accomplishment. As a developing family historian, she finds the detective work of family history fulfilling and invigorating. Pam plans to pursue a career in family history with an emphasis in British research while she prepares for her Accredited Genealogist credential exams. She has loved her years at BYU and the wonderful professors she’s been privileged to learn from and associate with. Her professors and fellow students opened her eyes to new ideas, perspectives, and perceptions of peoples, cultures, and the world we live in. Her previously limited paradigm has been broadened and enhanced by her experiences and education at BYU. She is grateful for divine help and extends a sincere thank you to the BYU faculty who give their lives to teach others.

Family Life: Megan (Van Alfen) Brown

Megan Van Alfen Brown

Megan (Van Alfen) Brown is a Family Studies major passionate about helping, educating, and healing individuals and families. She is a Wheatley Scholar and received multiple awards for her educational achievements. She worked as a teaching assistant and a research assistant with professors in the School of Family Life at BYU for several years. She is passionate about researching gender, body image, mental health, and sexuality and hopes to center her career in those fields. She will be attending graduate school in the fall at Brigham Young University for a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. She has plans to pursue a PhD to become a professor to educate students and families about complex topics that deserve increased attention. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, being outdoors, catching up with friends and building her floral design business.

Anthropology: Leeann Whiffen

Leeann Whiffen

Leeann Whiffen, an anthropology major, was born and raised on a cattle ranch in rural Idaho. She spent much of her youth helping her dad tend to the cows, swath hay, and irrigate fields. She is grateful for those experiences that have helped shape who she is today. Leeann and her husband Sean have been married for 25 years, and they have three sons. She has the special opportunity to be graduating from BYU with her son, Clay. Her husband and sons have always supported her educational goals. On one especially challenging day, she noticed a note in her chemistry notebook that said, “Good luck, Mom!” Leeann completed research under the supervision of Dr. Greg Thompson, and they co-authored an article examining physician-patient interactions that was published in the health care journal Qualitative Health Research. Leeann is deeply appreciative for her professors who have given her invaluable tools that she will carry forward. Leeann completed pre-medical coursework and plans to attend medical school.

Sociology: Hannah Dixon

Hannah Dixon

​​Hannah Dixon grew up in American Fork, Utah. She served a full-time mission in Poland, then returned to BYU, where she majored in sociology with a minor in English. Hannah is graduating with University Honors. During her time here, she relished research opportunities. She participated in a Ballard Center Social Impact Project, a research assistantship in the Sociology department, worked with the BYU Antiracism Project, completed class projects, and more. Other highlights of her BYU experience include involvement in the Honors program, volunteer and mentorship opportunities with first-year students, long hours in the library, and hiking to the Y more than 100 times. Hannah is grateful for the mentors, family, colleagues, and friends who have made her time here fulfilling and she credits their examples of grit, optimism, and encouragement for getting her to this point. She looks forward to continuing her studies at BYU this fall as a student in the sociology master’s program.

Economics: Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson

Alex Johnson is a senior graduating in economics and mathematics, with minors in Spanish and Portuguese. During his time at BYU, Alex realized that he possesses a love for learning and solving problems. Alex initially became interested in economics through Dr. Kearl’s Econ 110 class, learning to use a mathematical and logical framework to better understand the world. Through his experience in economics, Alex developed a passion for statistics and mathematical modeling, using and analyzing data to learn about the world in an economics framework. Seeing the strength of mathematics in such an applied context, Alex decided to supplement this growing passion for applied modeling by deciding to also study mathematics as one of his majors. This preparation allowed Alex to continue his education into the future with plans to study Applied Mathematics in a master’s program. Alex would like to express his sincere gratitude for all his professors, family, friends, and classmates, all of whom have been integral in his learning so far.

Successful entrepreneur and founder of PowerSchool returns to graduate from BYU

Greg Porter’s story began during high school in the 1980s. Now, decades later, he will be speaking at this year’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences convocation, at which both he and his son will graduate. Since his beginnings as an ambitious teenager, Porter has experienced adventure, success, hardship and risk.

As the student body president of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California, Porter was aware of the inefficiencies and challenges facing education. When he and a classmate enrolled in a computer programming class, they created record-keeping software to help teachers and students keep track of grades. Upon hearing about the innovation, other schools paid the two teenagers about $300 to use it in their own programs.

“When I was a kid, I acquired confidence that told me I could pursue anything I wanted,” says Porter. “It wasn’t much, but I learned so much just by stepping out into the real world and starting something on my own.” In his heart, he knew he was meant to become a businessman and intended to find that future in higher education.

Upon coming to BYU, Porter changed his major three times before deciding on Psychology, saying, “If you are drawn to something, check it out. BYU offers the perfect testing ground to explore and learn what your interests and passions are. Don’t run yourself into the ground thinking some majors are better than others. Do what you love.”

Rather than graduating, Porter left school with one class left, deciding to make his fortune and become an entrepreneur. “That’s when I went out and started PowerSchool and started working with the software. I’m not a great programmer myself, but I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it so I just dove in and started working on it,” says Porter. “That required me to work without a salary for a year and a half to two years, and I just funded myself.”

Soon he found investors, and PowerSchool became widely popular among school administrators, teachers, students and parents. Gaining momentum across the country, the company was acquired by Apple, Inc. In making the transition, Porter met regularly with Steve Jobs to plan for the future. “I’m so grateful that we found a strategic partner… rather than just somebody that just helped us do what we’re already doing.”

After finding success as an entrepreneur, father, and business owner, Porter came back to BYU to enroll in one final class and earn his degree. On Friday, April 26th, he will not only be the Family, Home, and Social Sciences convocation speaker, but will also graduate alongside his son.

Important Information for Graduation!

Spring is always fun. There’s warmer weather, Easter, the end of the semester, and…graduation! For the past four+ years, we worked, stressed, and cried over school. Now, it’s the time to celebrate! But before you throw your cap in the air and say good-bye to Provo, here are some important dates and deadlines for graduation.

Independent study

Students completing independent study courses need to have all of their work, including the final exam, submitted by April 4th.

Caps and Gowns

Dates

Commencement:

Convocation:

  • April 27
  • We will send out an email to students with more instructions, but here are a few important things to note:
    • We are asking graduates to meet at the Marriott Center at 4 p.m.
    • The Convocation ceremony begins at 5 p.m.

Karen Ashton will be giving the Convocation address. Karen and her husband Alan are philanthropists who have donated much to the LDS church. Together, they also founded Thanksgiving Point as a way to show their gratitude to the community. From 2013-2016, Karen served as the Matron of the Provo, UT Temple.

Congrats on graduating, Cougars!

 

graduation

10 Gifs That Perfectly Explain Your Pre-Graduation Feelings

The anticipation of graduation can be fun and exciting. It can also be not fun and leave you an emotional train-wreck. If you are graduating, congratulations! You are amazing. And if you have been feeling a lot of feelings; we want you to know that what you’re going through is completely normal.

You have probably felt one or more of these feelings this semester:

  • You want it to end.

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You’ve worked too hard for too long, and you’re ready to move on to the next phase. Finals? You’re pretty much over them. Grades? Who cares. Wedding receptions? You’ve had enough. You’re ready to move on.

  • You don’t want it to end:

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You’ve come to love BYU and now you are being forced to leave; and there is nothing in this world that can make you whole again. You’re feeling all the feels right now and it’s ruining you. Please stay calm. You will get through this.

  • You’re tired.

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  • You’re hungry:

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  • You can’t quite put your finger on it…

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Graduation is a big deal, and taking this necessary step in life is just downright emotionally taxing. We get you. Please just take a moment to relax. Treat yourself to a J-Dawg or a half-gallon of Graham Canyon. These emotions will pass.

 

  • You dread the thought of leaving your best friends. 

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The friendships you make in college are unlike any others. You and your squad have been through a lot together. Football games. Break-ups. Staying up until 3 am watching Netflix and pounding buckets of ice cream. The list goes on.

We can only imagine how you are feeling as you prepare to graduate. You and your girls/bros are splitting up and you can hardly stand it. You miss them every second. You text them constantly.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may be at risk for chronic best-friend withdrawal.

  • You’re okay with graduation and you can’t wait to leave and you can hardly believe more people aren’t as happy about this as you are.

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Do your dance, graduate. Do your dance.

 

  • You are SURE you will do great in grad school and you’re gonna walk in there like…

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You are correct. You are going to OWN grad school. If at times you feel uncertain, here are 9 Signs you’re ready to be a grad student.

 

  • You have no idea what you’re going to do with your degree.

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If you’re still searching for a career, Check out BYU Alumni Career Services. They can give you the connections you need to be successful after graduation. Also, remember that we do not get degrees for the sole purpose of landing a job. We develop knowledge and skills needed in other areas of life. For example, a college degree can help you be a better mother.

 

  • You already have a job lined up and you’re chillin’.

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If this is you, we’d like to congratulate you on your success and let you know that we’re totally jealous of you and we kinda hope we stay friends so you can buy us dinner sometime.

Be happy graduates. You’ve earned it. Stay in touch and good luck with the rest of your life!


images via GIPHY

Which of these emotions is you right now?