Meet Tashina Finlayson, a girl who has more brothers and sisters than humans have toes on their feet.
The third youngest of 16 children, Finlayson had a very dynamic and, as she put it, “crazy” lifestyle. She has a niece her age, and for most of her life all her family has lived within two hours of her parents’ house. Finlayson said her background and love for her family has influenced her life in many ways.
“My relationship with my family is the most important thing,” Finlayson said. “I always want to be with my family because that is what I have always had.”
Finlayson said her family background influenced her choice to study family life at BYU. Upon graduation, she hopes to use her studies and background to help other families.
“The family is so important,” she said. “I feel so much that the family is what we need to focus on. It’s like Elder M. Russell Ballard said in the last Conference. As soon as we fix the family unit, as soon as we fix the fundamental unit of society, society will finally be corrected. I definitely want to help fix broken families.”
Finlayson hails from Soda Springs, Idaho, but her family heritage extends beyond the borders of North America to New Zealand. She said gaining a personal understanding of her culture played a huge part of understanding her identity. Finlayson carries her family heritage proudly in her life as a BYU student. She is a member of the Polynesian Club on campus and follows in her mother’s footsteps, hosting parties for her friends.
“(Tashina) likes to cook for people a lot because she’s Maori,” said Nick Westover, a friend of Finlayson. “She made some fries and invited a bunch of us over. That was the first time we hung out outside of work. Now we’re good friends, and she’s cooked a few more times.”
Finlayson said being in a big family taught her the importance of doing her part to contribute. She works with her current roommates to follow the same pattern. Her mother said Finlayson contributed to the family by cleaning the house and doing her sisters’ hair.
“She likes an organized home, and if I didn’t get it there she would,” her mom said. “I remember going away for a day or two and coming home and seeing my house back into order again because Tashina had been working to get our home in order again and clean.”
Shelby Daniel, a junior from Soda Springs and long-time friend, said Finlayson’s background influenced how she interacted with others. Daniel personally enjoyed random, midnight drives when she and Finlayson would simply talk.
“Being able to talk to people and listen to their problems definitely came from her family,” Daniel said. “Being raised in that big of a family you’re going to hear about a lot of problems and put up with a lot of stuff. I really felt she understood my problems.”
Finlayson shares a lot with her family, but she has personal goals and hobbies as well. She is training for a half-marathon, loves volleyball, basketball, weightlifting and doing hair. Her favorite movie, to the point of obsession, is “Nacho Libre,” and she can quote the entire film.