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A Message From the Dean: Shine Your Light and Share Your Gifts

September 5, 2023

Dean Laura Padilla-Walker (bottom left) with Associate Deans Jeff Nokes, Mikaela Dufur, and Niwako Yamawaki.

Welcome back students!

It’s always an exciting time of year when you return to campus.

This year’s university theme is taken from Mosiah 7:19, “Search ye diligently in the light of Christ [and] lay hold upon every good thing.” I love how this scripture coincides with part of our mission in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences: “We are committed to equipping students with tools and methods to pursue truth and solve complicated global issues from a foundation of faith.” As we search for truth, it’s critical to do so with the light of Christ because that will build our faith in Him.

Here on this unique campus, we are blessed to experience education that is both intellectually enlarging and spiritually strengthening. Everything you’ll encounter, including updated CES standards, is motivated by a focused desire to help you grow closer to Jesus Christ. As you think about how you can build faith and testimony for yourself and “in the hearts of those with whom [you] live, work, and serve” (President Nelson, 2020), I hope that you will ponder on the spiritual gifts God has given you for this purpose.

Build your spiritual strength by adding action.

How can you let your light shine in ways that will build those around you? Elder Juan Pablo Villar (2019) reminds us that spiritual gifts need to be exercised to grow. He said, “Just as reading and learning about muscles is not enough to build muscle, reading and learning about faith without adding action is insufficient to build faith.”

What spiritual gifts can you exercise to help build faith and testimony in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and His restored gospel, and how can you use those gifts to serve and strengthen others? Sister Michelle Craig (2019) reminds us to “Trust God to lead you, even if that way looks different than you expected or is different from others.” I hope that you will be open to the myriad ways the Lord might lead you to build your spiritual capacity.

It is my prayer that you will recognize your spiritual gifts in new and illuminating ways this year, and that you will be inspired to share them with others. Please gather with groups of friends or classmates and attend devotionals together. Listen for messages that highlight ways the Lord wants you to develop and share your gifts.

I look forward to seeing you around campus and learning from the unique gifts you bring to BYU. I believe we have the best BYU students and faculty right here in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and I love the efforts I see as we strive to build the beloved community of Zion.

Watch for invites throughout the semester to come and visit with us (food is usually involved) and to attend the many excellent events hosted by the college (and earn Experience Points). We are dedicated to building a community of belonging through such associations, and each one of you is needed.

I hope you will seek out me and my colleagues in the Deans Office if you need anything at all — we’re in 990 KMBL.

I wish you a blessed semester!

Laura Padilla-Walker
BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences