All within the past five years, Jordan Coburn graduated with a double major in sociology and Spanish, worked as an English tutor, had four children and earned her graduate degree in sociology.
Despite all she had going on, Coburn found that getting involved, finding a community and interacting with and learning from mentors have only enriched her experience as a master’s student studying sociology at BYU.
Coburn credits her first undergraduate intro class in sociology as what piqued her interest in the field.
“My first sociology class stretched and broadened my horizons and my understanding of the world,” she said. “Honestly, it made me more of a Christlike person because it helped me to be more understanding and more compassionate for people in their different situations and life courses.”
Coburn has come a long way since that first sociology class and is now preparing to graduate with her master's degree this April. Yet the road leading to her second BYU commencement was not without its difficulties.
Coburn recalls that the decision to come back to school was not a simple or easy one, as Coburn had recently given birth and was tasked with taking care of three children at home, with the help of her husband. She also had also been graduated from college for four years and remembered being nervous that people would not take her seriously or wouldn’t understand her unique situation.
After her first few days back on campus, however, those fears quickly subsided.
“Once I got here, I realized I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone and that everyone was very understanding. The people in my program became some of my biggest cheerleaders.”
She found a caring community in her program, and that support didn’t stop with her classmates. Coburn found encouragement by interacting with other students who also had children, learning from strong female role models and connecting and interacting closely with faculty members.
“My thesis advisor and my professors were also kind and quick to compliment and cheer me on. That really helped me; anytime I felt like I was inadequate as a student, or a mother, I always had people surrounding me and telling me the opposite and encouraging me.”
Even with all she was balancing, Coburn made deliberate efforts to get involved in different extracurricular activities and served as both a member of the Student Advisory Council for BYUSA and as vice president and then president of the Graduate Student Society (GSS). In these roles, Coburn planned events to promote social connection, organized professional and academic seminars and served as an advocate for graduate students across campus.
“I realized there are a lot of things graduate students need a voice for,” she explained. “We tried to make GSS a place where anyone could come and bring their ideas, thoughts and feelings, and we would listen and brainstorm solutions together.”
Interacting with and serving these students provided a sense of fulfillment for Coburn, and her experiences encouraged her to continue to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. Following graduation, she hopes to teach sociology courses as an adjunct professor for an online college or university. Her goal is to inspire others, as she was inspired, to find their path, and expand their worldview and understanding of others.
“I feel like my education at BYU has overall made me a better person. It has made me more kind, compassionate and willing to understand people and their backgrounds and struggles.”
Coburn’s parting advice to fellow students? Determine what you want and don’t let anything stop you from achieving it.
“It is really easy to get caught up in expectations or norms and let your life be guided for you,” she said. “But I have found that it is really empowering to take hold of your own life and your decisions and move forward with those in confidence.”