Sunday, February 3, 2013

BYU's School of Family Life and Family Studies Major... and me!

Since I just finished my undergraduate degree at BYU in December, I feel it appropriate to express my gratitude for the opportunity to attend this school and for its School of Family Life (of which my degree program was a part).

BYU is a special school because it is an LDS school where religious and spiritual education is just as much of a focus as more secular study. Standards are not only high for scholarly pursuits, but for integrity, honor, and personal conversion. The BYU educational experience aims to be:
  • "Spiritually Strengthening,
  • "Intellectually Enlarging,
  • "Character Building, and
  • "Leading to Lifelong Learning and Service."
I would say my BYU experience definitely met these goals.

I was also fortunate to be a part of the School of Family Life. So, in addition to these high targets, my undergraduate program's mission was to:
  • "Provide instruction that fosters commitment to the principles in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
  • "Conduct research that contributes to the understanding and enhancement of human development, temporal well-being in the home, and marriage and family relationships.
  • "Help students develop the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and skills that characterize persons of positive influence - in their own marriages and families, in their professions, in church and public service, and other personal relationships."
Since many people are not familiar with my major, Family Studies, let me briefly describe it. It is a social science, and if placed on a spectrum, falls between psychology (the study of the individual) and sociology (the study of society)-- but in my opinion, it is the most useful, since our earliest interactions occur within our families, so they shape who we become. It focuses on the family as a unit and as a part of society, "including the temporal welfare of families, the interactions within a family, and the family's central role in community and culture. ... The family studies major seeks to promote religious and community involvement that maintains and strengthens home and family as the fundamental unit of society." The School of Family Life also offers majors related to Family and Consumer Science (FACS-- basically home economics, or "the practical skills required to meet human needs such as feeding, housing, clothing, and financing the family") and Human Development (literally from conception to death in old age). I took courses from all three [overlapping] disciplines (including theory classes, a sewing class, and an adult aging class).

In a world where priorities are confused and muddled and where Christian values and beliefs are mocked at seemingly every corner, I am so grateful to have attended a university where the things of eternity were a major focus. Additionally, the things I learned qualified me for a career outside the home, further schooling, AND improved familial roles, depending on my circumstances and choices. My desire to be a stay-at-home mom was never just dismissed by my professors-- it is something they applaud.

My BYU experience helped me to grow in ways I had never dreamed were possible when I moved to Provo in 2008:
I am more fully committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have faced and conquered intellectual challenges ( Calculus... or wading through scholarly articles). I am a far more critical thinker than I used to be (in part thanks to Thomas, as well!!). I am motivated to continue learning and growing-- and to teach and encourage others in their educational pursuits. I feel a strong personal commitment to defend and strengthen marriage, children, virtue, and positive family values. Although my formal education is complete (for now, at least), I will be a lifelong learner and a lifelong teacher. I learned principles and skills that already help me in my marriage and that I expect will be invaluable in the future when I become a mother.
Some BYU courses I highly recommend include:
  • SFL 100 Strengthening Marriage and Family (Dr. Hill)
    • This class was really amazing and really piqued my interest in SFL. This class was hugely instrumental in my personal marriage preparation. I probably could have benefited from an actual marriage prep course as well, but I did not take one. I learned so much in this class about my family of origin (including what that term means) and about my hopes for my family of procreation (and what that term means).
  • RELC 324 Doctrine and Covenants (Dr. Perkins)
    • I struggled with studying the Doctrine and Covenants until I took this class. Now I love the Doctrine and Covenants. Dr. Perkins seemed genuinely interested in his students.
  • RELC 342 Pioneers & Persecution (Dr. Cope)
    • I don't know if Dr. Cope has changed the way she teaches this course (I took it from her her first semester as a BYU prof.) but it was a powerful class. I learned so much about church history, including extensively about polygamy and its practice among early Latter-day Saints. I really loved the assignment to transcribe a manuscript from the HBLL L. Tom Perry Special Collections as well (where I also learned about fore-edge painting).
  • PHSCS 105 Intro to Physics (Dr. Stokes)
    • I probably would not have taken this class if I had not considered majoring in Geology, but it was a fun challenge and I learned a lot.
  • SFL 230 Housing the Family (Dr. Nielson)
    • This class was fairly informative, but more than that, it satisfied my creative appetite. I enjoyed the projects where we basically shopped for homes, appliances, decor, etc. and then experimented with arranging rooms using software.
  • SFL 351 Socialization Across Childhood (Dr. D. Nelson)
    • I took a couple of classes from Dr. David Nelson and I really really like his teaching style. He is very organized, very smart, and very funny. I learned a lot in this class about children's needs and how to be a good parent/teacher/etc.
  • SFL 185 Sewing
    • WAY fun. Time consuming (5-6+ hours in lab/week), but I learned a lot that I didn't even realize I didn't know about sewing. The lab is really fun and you get to know the people in your lab very well. The resources I ended up with after this class are things I will probably keep forever (we did "samples" of various techniques, like button-holes, and now they are in a binder). Another class that scratched my creative itch.
  • SFL 498 Family Life Education (Dr. Duncan)
    • My only regret about this class is that I did not take it earlier in my educational career and that I did not know about/explore the FLE certification route in the School of Family Life. This class sparked my passion for Family Life Education. It is definitely something I could see myself doing in the future and I very well may pursue certification.
  • SFL 336 Theories in Family Perspective (Dr. Holmes)
    • This class made me really analyze my thinking in new ways.
Honestly, just about every class at BYU is superb, but these are some of my very favorites because not only did I learn a lot, but I was fundamentally changed as a result of my learning.