Dr. Nelson to speak at Utah Valley University’s 80th commencement


OREM, Utah (ABC4) – Dr. Wendy Watson Nelson, professor, published author, former nurse, psychologist, and wife of Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will give the keynote address at Utah Valley University’s 80th commencement on May 7.

Dr. Nelson says she is “honored to speak to the graduates of UVU who have already demonstrated their resiliency, courage, and indefatigability, according to a press release from the University.”

University officials say due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commencement exercises will take place in a drive-in format on the main Orem campus, similar to what was done in 2020.

Drive-thru convocations for the university’s individual colleges and schools will be held that same day following commencement, according to the university.

“Dr. Nelson is a remarkable example of what can be achieved when education and learning become a life-long pursuit, an ideal we hold in high regard at UVU,” says Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University.

“I am sure that she will inform and inspire our students and community with words of wisdom drawn from her academic training, research and teaching, service, and life experience.”

As a professor of marriage and family therapy, Nelson is said to have taught for 12 years at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and for 13 years at Brigham Young University teaching doctoral and master’s students.

During those 25 years, she regularly presented at national and international professional conferences while teaching, researching, writing, supervising, and consulting in her field. She also maintained a private counseling practice for 30 years.

Nelson is the author of the books “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” and “Rock Solid Relationships,” and co-authored a landmark book for health care professionals titled “Beliefs: The Heart of Healing in Families and Illness”. She has published many articles, including “Osteophytes and marital fights” and “Is there life after suicide? The systemic belief approach for ‘survivors’ of suicide”. She also produced an educational series titled “Families with Health Problems: Assessment and Intervention”.

On April 6, 2006, Dr. Nelson married Elder Russell M. Nelson, who became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 14, 2018. She holds a Ph.D. in family therapy and gerontology and has served in many capacities in the Church, including stake Relief Society president, stake Primary president, and institute instructor.  She was born in Raymond, Alberta, Canada to Leonard David and Laura Byrde McLean Watson.

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