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 hails from Soda Springs, Idaho. She has a niece her age and for most of her life all her family has lived within two hours of her parents’ house. Needless to say, family is very important to her.
“My relationship with my family is the most important thing,” she said. “I always want to be with my family because that is what I have always had.”
Finlayson’s family heritage extends beyond the borders of North America to New Zealand. She said her Maori culture is a huge part of her life and who she is. She carries her culture with her in her life as a BYU student. She is a member of the Polynesian club on campus, and she follows in her mother’s footsteps hosting parties for her friends.
“She likes to cook for people a lot because she’s Maori,” said Nick Westover, a friend of Finlayson’s who met her at work. “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.”
In a big family each person needs to contribute, and Finlayson helped in whatever way she could by keeping the house clean or 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. I always knew that she would go crazy if our house was not in order or not clean.”
The influence of Finlayson’s family environment carried over into her relationships with her friends. Shelby Daniel, a junior from Soda Springs who has been friend with Finlayson since 7th grade, said she enjoyed late night drives with Finlayson to just 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 also has personal goals and hobbies. She is training for a half-marathon, loves volleyball, basketball and weightlifting, and she loves to do hair. Her favorite movie, to the point of obsession, is “Nacho Libre,” and she said she can quote the entire film.
Whether learning to share or participating in huge gatherings, Finlayson’s large family influenced her life in many ways. Her love for the family and personal experiences have led Finlayson to study family life at BYU and make a difference in other families.
“The family is so important,” she said. “I feel like so much that this is what we need to focus on. It’s like Elder Ballard said in the last conference. As soon as we fix the family unit, as soon as we fix the fundamental unit of society, that is when society will finally be corrected. I definitely want to help fix broken families.”