Students integrate religion into their daily lives beyond required religion classes

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Ben Vance, a sophomore studying microbiology, studies his scriptures alongside his other studies on Oct. 10, in the Joseph Smith Building. (Natalie Baugh)

BYU sponsors opportunities for religious growth all over campus, with everything from Tuesday devotionals to required religion classes. Some students, however, integrate the gospel into their education beyond what the university requires.

Amber Varney, a communication disorders student, said she believes integrating religion into her education helps her succeed.

“It benefits my learning because I am able to maintain an eternal perspective,” Varney said. “(I) remember why I am doing what I am doing, learning what I’m learning and sacrificing what I’m sacrificing.”

She said she integrates daily gospel living into her schoolwork by striving to say a prayer before taking a test or quiz and by taking time to do her church calling. She said her purpose for going to school has changed upon reflecting on how she lives the gospel.

“It has diverted me away from going to school for money but more to going to school in order to make an impact,” Varney said.

Tyler Seawell, a nutritional science major, expressed a similar perspective.

“Thinking about gospel teachings, such as loving one another, is helpful in classes,” Seawell said. “If I or other students miss and need information, we can reach out and help our fellow students. Being there for one another is important and Christlike.”

Hyrum Miller studies in the Joseph Smith Building on Oct. 10. He has a picture of Jesus Christ on his phone to help him integrate the gospel into his daily life. (Natalie Baugh)

Clay Mickelson, a junior studying biochemistry, also enjoys having a gospel perspective as he studies.

“There’s always a factor of (the gospel) in every class and every assignment,” Mickelson said. “We are always trying to increase our knowledge because it’s one of the things we will take from this life.”

Other students said they agree with Mickelson and are glad to have the gospel integrated into their education.

“We are here to learn and grow physically and mentally on earth so that we can be in tune spiritually and, in turn, be better physically and mentally,” Seawell said.

Seawell said he is motivated to continue growing for his future family.

“Being well-educated and involved in bettering myself is going to help me be a better father, and I know Heavenly Father wants me to be the best dad I can be,” he said.

Tyler Seawell studies on Oct. 10. While being interviewed, he talked about constant reminders of the gospel at BYU. For example, looking up and seeing the Christus statue in front of him. (Natalie Baugh)

Mickelson emphasized the importance of recognizing how education and religion can complement each other.

“It’s about balancing school and daily living the gospel and making sure they work hand in hand together,” Mickelson said. “It’s making sure our academics and religious things are supporting one another.”

Religion classes allow students to have religious conversations along with their academic discussions. Mickelson, Seawell and Varney all agreed that their religion classes have been helpful in their daily living of the gospel.

“In religion classes, you’re learning more than you might than by a simple reading of the scriptures. It’s a deeper study, and so when you don’t have that, you’re trying to figure out ways to get that deeper study,” Mickelson said.

Seawell said the effort he puts into the gospel can transfer to the efforts he puts in school.

Amber Varney uses her phone to read her scriptures on campus in the Joseph Smith Building on Oct. 10. (Natalie Baugh)

“I will pray before I study, especially if it’s an intense study session,” he said, adding that he asks for guidance on how and what to study.

Seawell said there are constant reminders to focus on Christ all around BYU, pointing to a Christus statue on the table he was studying at in the Joseph Smith Building.

Like Seawell, Varney said incorporating the gospel into her daily life has been impactful.

“I’m more in control of my life; I have a better idea of what I want to do. I’m more mature, and I have a more adult-like perspective,” she said.

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