I’m Kayla Helm, I am 23 and was born and raised in Henderson, Nevada, part of the greater Las Vegas area. I attended BYU – Hawaii from 2013 to 2016, walking in Summer 2016.
What brought you to both BYU-Hawaii and Peacebuilding? How have both of these impacted your present day life?
"When I was six years old I came to Hawaii on vacation and amongst visiting all the tourist sights we visited BYU-Hawaii Campus. I do not think that I knew it even existed prior to my visit but once I did I remember telling my parents that I wanted to go to school there. I think I was struck by the beauty and warmth of the island and for being so young I remember the trip rather vividly compared to other trip I went on and memories I have from that age. As time passed and I came closer to deciding on a school it started to feel lest realistic and it was not somewhere people from my community commonly went without any special ties, which I did not have. I was not of an ethnic background that would add to the diversity, I never had any family attended BYU-Hawaii or serve a mission in the target area but I was meant to be there.
When applying to schools I applied to BYU, BYU-Hawaii, and LDSBC. I was distraught over the pressure of what was going to happen and what decisions I would have to make, so in my prayers I asked to have the wrong paths closed off that I would be put in the right place, so when I was accepted to BYU-Hawaii I knew my prayers had been answered.
Sometime before I came to school my mom and I were looking at the majors on the website and when we came across the Peacebuilding Emphasis my mom said that it could be something that I might be interested in. I looked more closely at the requirements and was almost deterred by the language requirement but as before I must have known the Lord would make a way for me because that’s what I ended up doing. While on the website I also read about David O. McKay’s vision and, “That from this school, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.” These things must have had an impact because that summer I bought a bunch of T-shirts with peace signs on them.
Peacebuilding had a few big drawls for me. I wanted to go into a field that would put me where I would be of services to others. It was also important to me that the course of study I chose would remain pertinent through several career and life changes, especially since I did not know what my passion were other than learning about peacebuilding and did not know where life would talk me. I the biggest thing to me though was how personal peacebuilding can be, it has something to offer in that way other disciplines do not. I know education is a big key to accomplishing anything and I wanted the key to establishing peace in my life and peacebuilding has certainly helped me along this journey."
What have you been able to do with your degree?
"After graduation I did my internship with Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation where I was able to work in their hospital classroom that provides tutoring for the makeup work kids have to do while they are in-patient. I also spent two weeks of my internship at Camp Cartwheel, their summer camp for patients and siblings, as a camp counselor. I then nannied and after that I worked at job and day training sight for adults with intellectual disabilities. I am currently at The Rape Crisis Center, Community Action Against Rape, (RCC) where I work as our victim advocate at the Family Justice Center. At the Rape Crisis Center, we provide crisis intervention through our hotline and hospital visits, where we help with safety planning, information on sexual assault kits (an exam with the options of STD treatment, Plan B contraception, collects DNA, and documents and treats injury that might have been sustained during the assault) and emergency assistance with items such as clothing, cell phones, and transportation. We also with our advocacy provide guidance with the court process, victims compensation, navigating other resources and we also offer free counseling to all clients, and support with separating perpetrator and victim when they are fellow students. The other side is prevention, education, and outreach where we work on the social issue side of Rape and rape culture. Under this we train night clubs and the community how to spot sexual predators and intervene and assist school kids to be cognizant of what is acceptable. I am based at the Southern Nevada Family Justice Center (FJC) which we just had our grand opening for on March 1st. The FJC is operated by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in collaboration with partnering agencies to provide domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking victims, resources in a manner that meets their needs. As a partner here I am able to offer clients all the services I talked about plus work with other partners to provide U-visas, protection orders, legal aid, emergency shelter, file police reports, etc. Last year I was accepted to University Collage London’s Social Justice in Education but decided against it and have also have applied to UNLV’s Higher Education Masters and have been accepted for this program."
How has Peacebuilding remained a part of your life?
"Peacebuilding has remained a part of my life through my career and personal life. I use it identifying core issues of the topics I strive to tackle at work but I also use it to collaborate with my colleagues to foster an environment where we can meet each other’s outer triangles. I have also been able to use skills from mediation with to clients ask the right question in order to understand their needs and help them into a better head space regarding their internal conflicts. It is the same my family, friends, and those in my stewardship. I am on the compassionate service committee in my ward and I often do not have much to offer but that, but that is what is usually need the most. I use it for understanding my personal conflicts too. I have had struggles where I have had worldview conflicts where I had justified negative experiences in the past in order to cope and then had to realize what was happening in order to overcome it. Times like those cause strain with loved ones so there are instances where I have had to use peacebuilding theory and practical skills understand and address issues pertaining to my own personal conflicts."
What do you wish you would have known about the application of Peacebuilding or the Peacebuilding Program?
"The things I wish I had known or want to share are. Learn a few marketable skills that are non-people professional skills. Peacebuilding is not a cookie cutter field so most jobs in the field are not ready set jobs that that a degree and a word in a search engine will get you. Having some complimentary skills that are concrete in nature can help get you in the door as an entry level employee, think computer systems, graphic design, language skills, something people know they need then you can show them why they need peacebuilding too. I would also advise being involved on a number of projects throughout your time at BYU-H. Seeing how things play out in real life can help you fine toon your skills, along with show you your weaknesses. It also helps to get an idea of what others have done with there peacebuilding background and how they got there. The last thing I would add is don’t rush your time at BYU-H. Take the number of credit you need, put quality time into your classes but also allow yourself time to enjoy the island and the people around you, if that means slowing down the rate you are going through school, slow down."
Words by Kayla Helm