Highlights from BYU colleges: Dance alumna overcomes injury and starts a coaching app


College of Fine Arts and Communications

BYU dance alumna Kaley Jensen started an incredible career even before graduation, overcame a horrific injury and has now launched an app to coach dance classes. (Kaley Jensen)

A BYU dance alumna showed resilience in reaching success, overcoming an injury and redefining her purpose as a dancer. Kaley Jensen is a 2015 graduate and spent all four years of her undergrad performing with the BYU Theatre Ballet company. Afterward she performed with illustrious groups including the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Ballet North Texas, Bruce Wood Dance and Ballet Dallas. 

In June 2016 Jensen was a newlywed, studying postgrad at University of Arizona and was accepted into the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, when she and her husband were hit by a drunk driver on an unlit highway. Her husband suffered only minor injuries, but Jensen’s back was broken. Jensen had to wear a brace 24/7, could only bend at the waist and required help getting dressed. 

Through physical therapy and her own hard work Jensen could return to performing in February 2017. Jensen said her months of recovery and downtime led to a great deal of reflection and appreciation.

“I really just tried to focus on the ‘What am I to learn from this?’ because what happened, happened,” Jensen said. She was inspired to create an app that allows her to coach dancers virtually. The program launched in spring 2020. Jensen chooses to keep her variety of classes small at 10-12 participants per session so she can develop individual relationships with all students. Her program is called “Mind to Movement” and teaches Pilates, dance, body movement and nutrition.

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering

BYU graduate student Andrew Eyring won first place and $1,000 in a prestigious manufacturing design competition. (Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering)

BYU graduate student Andrew Eyring won first place and $1,000 in the 2021 American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Student Manufacturing Design Competition. The June 22 competition featured eight total competitors, among whom were Eyring and another BYU graduate student, JT Frandsen. This was the first time in BYU history two students have made it to the final round at the same time. 

Eyring’s award-winning project, “Analysis of a Closed-Loop Digital Twin,” uses a dice demonstrator to analyze data in sorting and production. This innovative project lets manufacturers make predictions of how their machines will function. 

Professor Yuri Hovanski and the BYU smart manufacturing research lab assisted Eyring in his research. Eyring’s wife also supported him and provided tips for presenting his project.

“I am feeling confident in my research,” Eyring said. “I think people are really starting to understand the importance of what we are doing here at BYU in terms of advancing research in smart manufacturing.”

School of Communications

Communications professor Pamela Brubaker and four graduate students won the Boston University Award of Excellence for their paper on the psychological effects of COVID-19. (School of Communications)

A communications professor and her graduate students won the Boston University Award of Excellence for their article on the psychological effects of COVID-19. Pamela Brubaker worked with students Jesse King, Audrey Halversen, Olivia Morrow and Whitney Westhoff. Their paper focused on how Twitter users formed communities at the start of the pandemic, providing support and resources for those who were struggling. Their research uncovered a correlation between rising COVID-19 cases and conversations referencing depression, PTSD and psychologists.

“People became more aware of their need for psychological help as well as their own personal difficulties with social isolation,” Brubaker said of the pandemic’s toll. 

Brubaker and her students hope their research will help readers continue to address mental health issues in more positive ways in the future. 

“Not everyone actively reaches out and seeks help when they are struggling,” Brubaker said. “We have a responsibility to actively use social media to lift others by regularly offering kind words and expressions of gratitude. Our online actions can go a long way in uplifting others, whether or not we are in a pandemic.”

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