Attending BYU can be a significant part of LDS culture — so much so that some families have spent generations building their own BYU legacies.
Todd Hollingshead, BYU’s information manager, said while the university doesn’t keep any statistics on siblings or families who attend BYU, finding families with multiple BYU students isn’t uncommon.
“The other day I saw a tweet from a student saying that all four of his siblings were attending BYU at the same time,” Hollingshead said.
Shybree Richins, a recreation management major, said her family’s connection to BYU stems back generations. Richins’ great-great grandfather was a professor when the school was known as Brigham Young Academy, and more than 25 family members have attended the university since.
“My parents met at BYU while cleaning the Marriott Center, and all of my siblings have graduated from here, too,” Richins said. “Sometimes I wonder what it would’ve been like to go to another school, but BYU was always my dream.”
Richins also said the family’s shared experience as Cougars has had a great impact on her family’s relationships.
“I think it has greatly affected our relationships with each other,” she said. “It’s fun because we have all gone through the BYU experience. We all feel very strongly connected to each other and to BYU.”
Megan Andrus, a junior from St. George, transferred to BYU from UVU in 2011, joining 20 other family members who are BYU alumni or current students.
“Three generations of my family have gone to BYU, and all my siblings, their spouses and my husband go here. So to be honest, I felt a little like the black sheep of my family,” Andrus said. “I just felt that I was somewhat of an outcast because I started out at a different university.”
Andrus added that the BYU connection has helped her family create a special bond.
“We all have something in common, and there is always something to talk about with extended family,” she said. “I think it’s a sense of pride for us, and I like running into family on campus.”
Rachel Morrey, a recent public health graduate, said she felt there was an expectation from her family to go to BYU.
“There was a lot of pressure for me to go here,” Morrey said. “Mostly from my dad, but my mom and older brothers as well. When I didn’t get in my freshman year, I felt like a failure. So when I finally transferred, I felt more acceptable to my family — even if it was just in my subconscious. I think the fact that I graduated from BYU makes my parents really proud.”
Morrey said her family’s devotion to BYU is a sense of pride that runs deep.
“My older brother named his son Jimmer, for goodness’ sake,” she said with a laugh.