Tag Archives: student spotlight

Women in Politics: 2015 Senior Spotlight Nite


Political science student Rachel Stone looks on at another presenter during BYU’s Women in Politic’s “Senior Spotlight Nite.” Photo by Joshua Chappell.

Audience cheers for presenters at Senior Spotlight Nite. Photo by Joshua Chappell.

Audience cheers for presenters at Senior Spotlight Nite. Photo by Joshua Chappell.

BYU’s Women in Politics BYUPAS chapter hosted a “Senior Spotlight Nite” last month, celebrating and honoring graduating female political science students.

Friends and peers were able to cheer on these accomplished women, network, and eat together at the end of the 2015 winter semester.

The event allowed the unique opportunity for women from all the political science emphasis to network with each other.

“The Senior Spotlight night unified women whose academic interests within the major hadn’t allowed them to meet and bond with each other since those introductory classes,” said Rachel Stone, a senior in political science.

The women were able to share various helpful tips about doing well in school, research, getting a job in their field of interest, etc. for those still in school.

“I loved hearing the same sage advice from multiple graduating women, because I knew exactly which tricks worked the best!” Stone said. “We had such a diversity of women, from the multilingual, world-traveling go-getters to the women who simply did their homework and enjoyed every minute of class.”

Although many of these accomplished seniors will be gone from BYU soon, this event only marked continued friendship and a stronger network of women in politics.

“We learned the value of any and every political science experience, because they all emerged with a unique readiness to triumph in whatever comes next,” Stone commented. “I can’t wait to keep in touch with these ladies and see where they lead.”

Qualtrics: using research skills outside of the classroom


Taylor Rawson is a BYU student applying her research skills at Qualtrics. Photo used with permission.


Taylor Rawson is an international relations student at BYU applying her research skills to her job at Qualtrics.

 Q: Why did you decided to go into international relations?

Taylor: I liked that it was interdisciplinary. I like political science – I really wanted to do something with political science but I didn’t only want to take political science classes. I wanted to take stuff like history and geography and foreign language [Spanish]. I did a study abroad in Spain and loved it.

Q: What brought you to Qualtrics?

Taylor: I have worked with Professor Darren Hawkins for two years as a reserach assistant and we’ve done a lot of “everything,” like experiments and qualitative work but I did a lot of data and [data] modeling … He recommended Qualtrics … and so right now I work with students and the professors from all over, not just here on campus, and their research using Qualtrics. Professor Hawkins and I had ran surveys on Qualtrics before but there’s way more that you have to learn …. so I did a lot of training when I started. It’s just such a cool software. You can put custom programming into Qualtrics and make it however you want! It’s a neat platform.

Q: Do the classes you’ve taken at BYU helped you with that job or is it separate from what you’re doing now?

Taylor: It’s a little bit of both. A lot of classes require research, and you have to take a lot of research classes as part of the major, but I also have a lot of research experience outside of school, like being able to think analytically and problem solve. People will call in [to Qualtrics] and say they’re having an issue with this or that and how do I build this, and you have to be able to come up with it.

Q: So which classes have you taken that have helped you in your job now?

Taylor: Anything that forces you to think analytically. So I’ve taken the research skills classes, like a writing methods class.

Q: With all the skills that you’ve developed, what do you want to do after graduation?

Taylor: I really want to be a professor. I love research and you can come up with a problem that you think is interesting, and you figure out how to get an answer, and it’s a cool process. I also like teaching, and I love working with people. I want to get a Ph.D. one day. But good research takes years and years. It’s just neat to solve problems and find answers!

Q: So why would you recommend all this to other students?

Taylor: For two years now I’ve worked on the front end of research– coming up with the questions and trying to figure out what methods could best help us find the answers we were looking for.  At Qualtrics, I work on the other side of that research; I help other academics to set up their research and help them understand how Qualtrics can help them answer the questions they’re asking.  I’ve enjoyed it because I have been on that front side, and I think Qualtrics is a survey platform that can be used for almost anything.

Student Spotlight: Alejandra Gimenez

Alejandra Gimenez tells about her unique experiences as BYU political science student and researcher in this YouTube video:

Video shot by Cameron Byrd of BYU’s FHSS Video Services.

Wheatley Conference: An experience in politics “outside the bubble”


BYU students at WIAC

BYU students participate in WIAC at Aspen Grove. Bryonna Bowen is on the first row, third from the left. Photo used with permission.


Bryonna Bowen, an international relations student at Brigham Young University, was one of the many students who took part in the Wheatley International Affairs Conference (WIAC) on the “Middle East: Power, Politics, & Prospects for Peace” in February 2015.

Q: Tell us in a nutshell what WIAC is.

Bryonna: BYU hosts an annual conference where students from several different colleges come here to BYU and have a week to discuss different topics related to an overall theme. This year’s conference theme was on the Middle East. A professor or academic mentor experienced on the topic leads the conversation, gives some background information, and then all the students bounce ideas off of each other to improve the situation based on what we’ve learned and already know. The end result is a policy proposal presented at the end of the week and we get some feedback from the round table chairs and advisers. The “round table” I was on this year was “Political Economy in the Middle East,” and we were able to pick one area we wanted to focus on and recommend a policy that could improve this issue. Some groups have really large scopes for their policy where they try to solve as much as the problem as possible and other groups just say that any progression is good and take small policy steps.

Q: Is there any preparation needed for this event?

Bryonna:  As a BYU student, we have prep class for it, a 2 credit class, where we do readings for each of the round tables. The students from other universities just do the readings for their specific round table, but there’s usually at least 5 to 10 readings, whether it’s from a chapter a book or an academic article or something else related. Doing the readings you get a basic knowledge of what we’re discussing so that you don’t come in blind sided. We’re all at least somewhat knowledgeable on the situation before we go in so we can just have a good educated discussion. It is a fair amount of preparation but it’s good because you prepare; you’re able to have that intellectual conversation, and you’re able to progress.

Q: How and why did you start WIAC?

Bryonna: I started last year, and did WIAC 2014 and 2015. I just signed up for the prep course because it was something I was interested in. It’s a fabulous networking opportunity; a way to get involved on a  national level with different organizations. [The] Wheatley Institute does a really good job of bringing in very prestigious academics and other experts to work with us and I’m still getting emails from [them] from [their] organization. I have created good networks and strengthened ties with BYU professors that have gone to the conferences both years.

Q: How does participating in WIAC help you as an international relations student?

Bryonna: It opens my eyes to different opinions out there and gets me involved in the discussion outside of just the campus discussion, and that’s really refreshing for me at least. It … gave me a taste of political economy so it’s a great opportunity to help me become a mini expert for a week. And [it helps] to take the knowledge from the political science and economic classes that I have had and to apply it to something where it’s not necessarily real world, but it could be applied in the real world. So it’s a nice bridge between academia and real life, application, and policy recommendation. Some of [the recommendations] really could be implemented and really could make a difference. I think it’s really good to have that environment as a student before you get out there in the real world.

Q: How has taking political science classes helped you prepare for this event?

Bryonna: All of them build off of each other in political science. I haven’t studied a lot of American politics but I’ve taken many international politics courses. For example, I’ve taken a revolutions and civil conflict class and I’m in the Arab/Israeli conflict course now both of which actually had a round table specifically on their topics this year. The conference has very narrowed topics in some instances but very broad topics too. So no matter what your interests are, you can always find something at the conference that is related to what you’ve studied and hopefully are interested in.

Q: Final question. Why would you recommend WIAC to other students?

Bryonna: WIAC is a fabulous opportunity to really build off of what we learn from classes and we get the chance to work with others thereby broadening the possibility and perspective we hold on an issue. The conference is held up at Aspen Grove and we focus [during] 10-12 hour days with a small group of people on our specific topic. Conversations can sometimes get heated, sometimes be a ton of fun, but overall it’s just a great experience. It’s a great way to not just stick with the campus stuff, but to branch out and do something else. Political science and IR [international relations] are heavily represented, but we also had some psychology majors, and a couple of engineering [students] this year. Everyone interested is welcome and should really consider participating in WIAC.

After graduation this April, Bryonna would like to become an analyst focusing on issues in the Middle East.

Note: BYU students must enroll in the WIAC Prep Course (PLSC 379R Section 4) as an elective class to register for the conference. The course was taught by Professor Fred Axelgard, senior fellow in international affairs at the Wheatley Institution.

See more information about WIAC on their website here.