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Beyond BYU 2017

“Beyond BYU” is an annual career and networking event in Washington, D.C., for BYU students from Provo, Hawaii, Idaho, that began this year on Thursday, May 11th and ended on Friday, May 12th.

Approximately 112 students participated in this year’s two-day event, the highlight of which was a keynote address by Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, current director of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Pictured Above: Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon.

Pictured Above: Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon.

Speaking at the NAB headquarters, Senator Smith encouraged students to study deeply the issues that will affect their lives in the long term, to be truly an expert in at least one professional discipline, and to “earn” their opinions on important issues through serious research and study. Senator Smith discussed the importance of the rule of law as nations around the world work towards stability and democracy. After Senator Smith spoke, students and alumni professionals spoke over hors d’oeuvres and refreshments and career mentoring went on until nearly 9 PM.

Students listen during the  keynote address at NAB Headquarters.

Students listen during the keynote address at NAB Headquarters.

On the morning of May 11th, students met at the U.S. Capitol and toured the Halls of Congress. The following morning, students met at the Barlow Center and prepared to go to professional offices all over Washington, D.C. These offices included: the SEC, the World Bank, Deep Roots Analytics, the FBI, the U.S. Congress’ Ways and Means Committee, various lobbying firms, communications firms, and law firms in the D.C. area.

The two-day event concluded with a graduate school information event at the BYU Barlow Center wherein representatives from Georgetown, George Washington, American and George Mason Universities came and spoke informally with students about programs ranging from an MPP in Public Health, to MBA programs, JDs and PhDs. Students have described the event two-day event as “amazing,” and as an event that helped them “see all the possibilities that are available” in the DC area for post-graduate work and study.

Students receive personalized mentoring from professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.

Students receive personalized mentoring from professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.

Student Recognition at BYU Political Science Closing Banquet

Political Science Awards 2017

Congratulations to the new BYU Political Science valedictorian and salutatorians! Pictured above is Soren Schmidt, valedictorian, as well Kim Roy and Sierra Thomander, salutatorians. They were recognized at the BYU Political Science Closing Banquet for their many accomplishments and hard work over the course of their time as undergraduate students in the BYU Political Science Department.

Along with the recognition of the valedictorian and salutatorians of the class pf 2017, the SIGMA Journal authors and recipients of the Jones Writing Awards were also recognized at the banquet and are listed as follows:

  • Mandi Eatough (1st place)
  • Kennan Howlett O’Connell (2nd place)
  • Soren Schmidt and Matthew Young (3rd place)
  • Rehtaeh Beers
  • Caitlyn Bradfield Smith and Paul Johnson
  • Sarah Curry and Cassidy Hansen
  • Brittney Grandy
  • Lexie Prier
  • Sam Williams

Additionally, Eliza Riley and Samantha Woods were recognized at the banquet as the 2017-2018 Stan Taylor Scholars.

Finally, the BYU Political Science Closing Banquet also recognized the new chapter presidency of the BYUPAS student chapter, and is proud to announce Reed Rasband as president, Sam Elmer as vice president, Kate Wheeler as the publicity specialist, and Collyn Mosquito as events coordinator for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.


G. Homer Durham Lecture 2017

Hannah C. Smith of the Becket Fund

Attorney Hannah C. Smith visited BYU from her home in Virginia, taking time from her work as Senior Counsel at the Becket Law Firm, a defender of religious liberty across the country, and spoke in front of a large audience in the SWKT room 250 on January 26, 2017.

Smith spoke about religious liberty, stating that the real work of defending religious liberty begins with us,  and that we each have a role to play in defending it. We have been asked by God’s apostles and prophets on the earth today to rise up to this challenge. Each one of us needs to consider the ways in which we can stand up for religious freedom for all people in our neighborhoods, communities and in societies at large. Smith tied into the quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as he said, “Religious Freedom is indeed under fire. And things may get worse before they get better. But these are our times. This is our moment to defend our fundamental freedoms.”

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BYUPAS Salt Lake City Mentoring Event

2017 Speed Mentoring SLC PAS

BYUPAS Salt Lake City chapter gathered together an incredible group of mentors from a wide variety of career paths to meet with a group of about fifty BYU students in the Utah State Capitol Building on January 26th, 2017.

The students took part in a “speed mentoring event” that involved quickly rotating through a group of accomplished mentors to receive career advice and counsel with them on a variety of different career options. The event was incredibly successful and BYUPAS would like to thank all mentors who were involved in meeting with students of the BYU Political Science Department.

If you are interested in being a mentor for BYU Political Science students, or are a student that has an interest in connecting with a potential mentor yourself, feel free to reach out to local chapter or to the BYU Political Science Department itself.

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Pictured above:  Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, who sat down with some students to counsel them as a mentor.

BYUPAS New Chapter Presidents

The BYU Political Affairs Society would like to welcome three new PAS chapter presidents for  the Bay Area, New York, and Washington, D.C. Recently, each new president told us about their chapter goals, professional lives, and hopes for BYU alumni are.


Skye Herrick, Chapter President of the new BYUPAS Bay Area Chapter


Where do you work and what is your current position?

I currently work for Google Inc. in Mountain View, California.  I am the Analytical and Operations Lead for Google Marketing Solutions in North America.

Describe the best part about your job.

The best part of my job is solving complex problems everyday with some of the smartest and most driven people I’ve ever met.  At Google, we often get to be at the cutting edge of new ideas and products and I get to support businesses and users making that possible.

What are your goals with the Bay Area BYUPAS chapter?

I think the intersection of tech, business, and policy is fascinating.  Tech isn’t really an industry so much as an idea that we should disrupt existing industries.  This means that Tech is constantly pushing on entrenched systems, laws, and policies.  Understanding the policy implications of decisions, the potential to make lives better, and innovating around them is awesome and I think harnessing BYU alum and LDS professionals here to talk about and understand those intersections is a great adventure.

What advice do you have for BYU graduates or young LDS professionals who are still early on in their career?

Don’t settle.  Many BYU graduates and LDS professionals enter the workplace more mature and ready to work than their peers.  Don’t underestimate the power of outworking your peers in your early career and leveraging that for additional opportunities.  Also, put money in your 401k!

Stephan Puhlmann, Chapter President of the BYUPAS New York Chapter


Where do you work and what is your current position?   

I work for Apollo Global Management, alternative asset management firm, which has a strong presence in the private equity and credit spaces.  Currently, I am a Senior Accountant and work with several managed accounts that invest approximately $4.2 billion in a broad range of products and strategies across the firm’s credit platform, including leveraged loans, high yield bonds, private debt, junior debt and equity tranche CLOs, and opportunistic credit. I am primarily responsible for overseeing the financial, performance, and investor reporting for these accounts. My work also includes reviewing components related to compliance, marketing, and operations for these accounts.

Prior to joining Apollo, I worked as an external auditor in EY’s Asset Management Group, where I worked with a wide variety of clients in the asset management industry, including several hedge funds and mutual funds. Prior to joining EY, I spent several years working in door-to-door sales for Vivint, Inc.

Currently, I am a Chartered Financial Analyst and a Certified Public Accountant.

Describe the best part about your job.

Within my role, I have the unique assignment to oversee the various functions as they relate to each portfolio.  Much of the work in the investment industry is highly specialized and often leads to siloed behavior or responses by the various functions.  It is my job to coordinate the work of multiple internal and external groups for the benefit of our investors.


What are your goals with the New York BYUPAS chapter?

Currently, our primary goal is member development and chapter growth in the greater New York City area.


What advice do you have for BYU graduates or young LDS professionals who are still early on in their career?

I would recommend that they continue to develop themselves mentally and professionally after graduation.  In my experience, I have been able to accelerate my own career growth by constantly seeking ways to learn and grow professionally.  This continued growth has opened up many opportunities for professional advancement.

Chip Yost, Chapter President of the BYUPAS Washington, D.C. Chapter


Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am currently the Director, Government and International Affairs at Westinghouse Electric Company.

Describe the best part about your job.

I love working with Members of Congress and their staff. My job is to help them understand the value of nuclear energy from civil nuclear energy, environmental, economic and international trade perspective.

What are your goals with the Washington BYUPAS chapter?

I want to build on the foundation laid of previous chapter presidents. There are many career opportunities in Washington, DC and I would like to help new graduates connect with alumni that want to help the next generation of BYUPAS graduates. My goal is to put together a chapter team create three or four events a year where BYUPAS members can meet new friends and build new relationships.

What advice do you have for BYU graduates or young LDS professionals who are still early on in their career?

Washington, DC is a great town and there are no limits for someone that is willing to work hard and treat others with respect. Take time to get to know people and build a professional network that will last. This is not speed-dating. Networking is building a relationship and not just getting another contact on LinkedIn. Finally, take a hard look at your career. Where are you and where do you want to go. How are will you get from here to there? Then find a mentor that can help you make that happen!


Alumnus Spotlight: Jordan Rogers


In the heat of the 2012 election cycle and as a graduate of the Political Science Department at BYU, Jordan Rogers moved to Washington, D.C. with his family to work for TargetPoint Consulting. TargetPoint is a firm specializing in a wide range of research solutions, from election consulting to corporate advocacy.

There he enjoyed a high level of autonomy and varied portfolio of projects, the perfect combo for a self-proclaimed “data geek”.

“They relied a lot on the new, lower level [employees] to do a lot of projects that probably wouldn’t ever go down to that level in a bigger organization. I got to participate in projects that I really enjoyed and what I was doing was going to very influential people,” he said. And during his tenure, Rogers presented directly to prominent leaders in the Republican party, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Republican Party chair Reince Priebus.

This, however, wasn’t Rogers’ favorite part of the job.

“I thought what we did was fascinating, from a data standpoint I’m kind of a data geek. Data analysis is what I do and what I really like.”

And with the quantitative analysis skills he had first begun cultivating at BYU, Rogers decided he wanted his work to cross partisan lines. Somewhat impulsively, he applied for a job in Salt Lake, and then several more, eventually securing another data-heavy position with his current employer, O.C. Tanner.

O.C. Tanner has been popularized as a jeweler, but the vast majority of their business revolves around helping other businesses recognize their employees. Their services range from tenure packages to employee recognition software.

“The reason I decided to go with O.C. Tanner was I really wanted to go somewhere I felt I was making a more positive impact on the world. I felt very passionately that the work I was doing in politics was having a positive impact on people, in some ways good in some ways bad. But now I’m impacting people no matter who you are. You can be any demographic, have any beliefs, and I have the potential to impact you with my work.”

Most recently, Rogers was accepted to Northwestern to complete a masters degree in predictive analytics, which he does online in addition to his full-time job. Ultimately he hopes to bear the title of “data scientist” and to explore different career opportunities that accompany it.

“The thing that I really like about data analysis is it allows you to apply a lot of different types of information. That’s why I can go from politics to employee recognition. It’s applicable across a lot of industries, which is appealing to me. Having a predictive degree where you’re analyzing data allows you to go anywhere.”

This Wednesday students and professors gathered together in the JSB auditorium to watch the third, final, and highly-anticipated presidential debate.

The event, hosted by the BYU Political Affairs Society, drew a sizeable crowd to see what the two nominated candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties would say as election day draws nearer and nearer.

Students watched as both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took the stage and presented their final debate statements to the American people in hopes of better understanding the candidates’ policies before heading off to the polls.

Immediately following the event, BYU PAS hosted a question and answer session with a panel of BYU professors. These questions covered a range of issues, from the policies that were discussed to the manner in which the presidential candidates held themselves throughout the debate.

“I do worry about how the nature of the campaign and how unpopular the candidates are is changing the image of democracy in the long-term,” said Professor Adam Dynes when asked about his thoughts on some of the on-stage statements throughout the debate.

“No matter what happens, I think Republicans are going to come out of this debate doing a lot of ‘soul-searching,’” echoed Professor Celeste Beesley when answering a question dealing with unrest within the political parties. “This is a critical election for both parties, and very real shifts will come out of it as a result.”

Want to get in on more election action? Sign up to be a pollster with Utah Colleges Exit Poll in the upcoming election here:

The BYUPAS watch party provided cookies and drinks to help students settle in before the start of the debate.

The BYUPAS watch party provided cookies and drinks to help students settle in before the start of the debate.

Professors Beesley, Dynes, and Cressman answer student questions post-debate.

Professors Beesley, Dynes, and Cressman answer student questions post-debate.

Students watch 2016 presidential candidates debate on screen.

Students watch 2016 presidential candidates debate on screen.

Tanzania: BYU Student Research in Underdeveloped Countries


Courtney Rada knew she wanted to do something to make a difference during the summer of 2016. While at first she was unsure of what direction she wanted to take, Rada quickly found an opportunity she felt was worth pursuit in a somewhat unexpected place: her Political Science 444 classroom. With a team of fellow BYU students, Rada decided to travel to Tanzania for the summer as part of Professor Dan Nielson’s research expedition working with underdeveloped countries.

With a team of fellow BYU students, Rada decided to travel to Tanzania for the summer as part of Professor Dan Nielson’s research expedition working with underdeveloped countries. The project was designed with a dual purpose to both allow students to aid their professor in his research, while they also designed and executed their own social and political experiments with the Tanzanian people.

In the field, students helped Nielson in the beginning processes of his experiment analyzing the effects of cell phone ownership on Tanzanian women. The students worked on phase one of Nielson’s interview survey with women in Tanzania, as well as assisted in the sampling process. As researchers in Nielson’s experiment, the students were able to gain valuable experience participating first-hand in a large-scale research process while living on-site in Tanzania.

In small groups, the students also worked on their own research projects. Rada’s group measured the likelihood of innovation in health clinics across Tanzania, dependent on who it was presenting the ideas to the clinics: Americans, or the Tanzanians themselves. By an almost overwhelming margin, Rada’s research group found that the clinics were much more likely to show interest in medical innovation if it was Americans presenting the medical information to the clinics, rather than native Tanzanians.

“In some ways it’s sad, but in a lot of ways it was empowering to see how much potential influence we [as Americans] have in inciting innovation in these clinics,” states Rada, “That we can make a difference means a lot as an outcome.”

What was one of the biggest ways this research experience in Tanzania impacted Rada, a senior studying economics, in her studies?

“This experience has really just opened a lot of doors for me. Right now, I’m applying to a lot of PhD programs, and the fact that I already have experience in the field and with this kind of research is infinitely more impressive to them. The fact that I have research that’s going to be published that I can show them has just proved invaluable to my application process,” Rada says.

Want to make a difference working with underdeveloped countries or do some research of your own? Start here:

Photos courtesy of Courtney Rada.

Photos courtesy of Courtney Rada.

Alumna Spotlight: Kyrene Gibb


Like many Brigham Young University students, Kyrene Gibb’s path to her major was, at first, obscured. She spent quite some time searching for the right major until she found political science and data analysis.

She began her time at BYU declared as a civil engineering major, quickly realizing that she liked writing and arguing her points in Political Science 110 better than any engineering class she had taken.

Gibb progressed from student to TA to research assistant quickly, enjoying her time working with professors. As a research assistant, she cultivated a love for research.

“I was really lucky to have TAs and professors who were willing to work with me and who were excited that I was excited about what I was learning.”

After a very involved tenure in the BYU political science department, Gibb accepted a job offer out of college at a consulting firm in Idaho. There she learned more about her love of testing political messaging.

“I’ve always enjoyed studying public opinion, especially as it relates to campaigns and how voters process information about a candidate. I think it’s fascinating. You market a person essentially the same way you would a business. You have to find out what things are appealing to the customer base, or in the political sense, constituents,” said Gibb.

Not long after relocating to Idaho, Gibb was offered a job at Y2 Analytics in Salt Lake. She accepted and currently works as the director of research, a job perfectly suited for the skills she learned at BYU.

Through every advancement in the department of political science, Gibb felt grateful for the many sacrifices made by students who paved the way for her and gave advice.

“Being able to work closely with professors and do meaningful research with professors is what really captivated me and made me love my major.”

WomenStats: Pathway to Non-Profits

Photo provided by Crys Kevan Lee--Empower Playgrounds

Photo provided by Crys Kevan Lee–Empower Playgrounds

For many, choosing a career in non-profits seems like a dream. For BYU graduates Crys Kevan Lee, Jessica Hogstrom, and Julie Ford Brenning, however, this dream is their everyday reality.

As an employee of Empower Playgrounds, Crys Kevan Lee works with children in Africa. Lee helps provide the children a way to study at night by overseeing the installment of Empower Playground merry-go-rounds  at schools that double as power generators for alternative light sources. Lee works from Salt Lake City in conjunction with on-site employees in West Africa to help fund girls’ scholarship programs, oversee wells that provide clean water, and manage the forty-seven merry-go-rounds placed in West African schools.

Across the country, Jessica Hogstrom works from Williamsburg, Virginia in conjunction with the College of William & Mary and non-profit company, AidData. Analyzing data using various methods such as remote sensing, Hogstrom provides companies with a visual representation of their aid disbursement to better understand where their money is going. Using geocoding technology, Hogstrom and her team work to understand where aid should go and how aid dollars should be disbursed to help aid  global development in foreign countries.

Julie Ford Brenning works to end gendercide in Asian countries. Working with the non-profit organization, Give Her Life, Brenner utilizes both her Chinese language skill and her drive tp aid women targeted by their gender in foreign countries. Brenner is currently working on a publication to help people better understand gendercide in China, as well as working in conjunction with Give Her Life to analyze data concerning gender selection in Asian countries.

What is the common factor that unites these three amazing women and their high profile careers in non-profit? All three became involved with WomenStats Project while studying at BYU. As students working with WomenStats they gained valuable skills, such as coding and data analysis, that helped prepare them for real-world experience to enter non-profit careers in global development upon graduating.

Photo provided by Crys Kevan Lee--Empower Playgrounds

Photo provided by Crys Kevan Lee–Empower Playgrounds

Want to know more about getting involved? Follow the link: to learn more.