Inspired as a freshman to take a graduate-level psychology class, a student found that it was just what she needed to survive an emotionally challenging year. Photo by Bradley Slade.

How alumni use their BYU education to serve their communities, neighbors, and families.

Prepared to Help

The class I took at BYU that has had the greatest impact on me and my family was the one in which I got the worst grade—and wasn’t initially even allowed to take.

While reading through the course catalog as a freshman, I felt an unmistakable impression each time I came across EdPsych 546, Helping Relationships. After I made multiple requests, the professor relented, “against [his] better judgment,” to let a freshman take his graduate class.

That semester my brother was honorably released from his mission several months early. He came to BYU exhausted, confused, angry, and vocal. While struggling through and graduating in chemistry, he wandered into severe clinical depression and eventually paranoid schizophrenia.

My normally peaceful life became increasingly dramatic as I supported my brother and dealt with a hectic schedule on the ballroom tour team, a broken-off engagement, and the excommunication of a family member.

Through EdPsych 546 I learned such skills as empathetic listening, reflective listening, mirroring/parroting, conflict resolution, and setting healthy boundaries. After almost every class, I was able to apply the skill that was taught before the next class.

The Lord’s tender mercy of guiding me to take EdPsych 546 has blessed my life and my family. Over the years I have added to what I learned there through community college courses in psychology and human development. These skills have helped me deal with strong personalities on PTA boards; serve in church presidencies and in public-affairs and media-relations callings; and, yes, work with teenagers!

Name withheld, Lindon, Utah

Making Friends With Flora

As a music major I spent most of my time in the practice rooms of the HFAC, but one spring term I decided to get some fresh air and enrolled in field botany. What began as an escape from the routine became a treasured experience. Our class walked around campus, hiked in the canyons, and even took a class field trip to my own backyard, all in search of plants to study and identify. I learned names like Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen), Hedra helix (English ivy), and Acer platanoides (Norway maple). The trees and shrubs became friends in what had been a forest of unfamiliar faces.

Since my graduation, my family has moved to six different states, each with its own native plants—from the agave of New Mexico to the flowering dogwoods of Maryland to the coastal redwoods of California. With the principles I learned in field botany, I teach my children to identify plants by paying attention to bark, debris on the ground, leaf shapes, and the method of seed dispersal. The best part is there are new leafy friends wherever we go; we just have to do our part to get to know them.

—Rebecca Otterstrom Lloyd (BA ’01), Livermore, Calif.

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Browse the complete Spring 2016 Issue »