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Working for Religious Freedom

June 2024

Ryan Cheney in his cap and gown after graduation sitting on a bench with his wifeRyan Cheney was born and raised in Orem, Utah.  He completed his undergrad in international relations at BYU before attending BYU Law School. “ICLRS was a big contributor in what drew me to law school at BYU,” he says. “I’m passionate about international human rights and religious freedom.”

During his 1L year, Cheney was an intern for the US Government Accountability Office working on research with Kenya.  “I got to research marriage law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I learned a great deal,” he says. “I also had the opportunity to aid in research and writing for religious freedom trainings and casebooks.” After his 1L summer, Cheney stayed on at the ICLRS  working as a management board member. “Helping in research and writing for articles that professors were writing was very impactful,” he recalls.

One aspect of ICLRS that he deeply appreciated was the center’s moot court opportunities. “They focused not only on US law but also on international law,” he says. “It was a great way to network with people who were also interested in religious freedom. It provided invaluable experience.”

Cheney also volunteered with the ICLRS Annual Law and Religion Symposium at BYU. Through these symposiums, Cheney spoke with many delegates about their backgrounds in law and human rights. “I’m very grateful for the chance I had to participate with the center and contribute to its work,” Cheney says. “ICLRS shaped my career interests. In the near future, I would love to continue working with the center or another organization that’s involved in religious freedom, especially internationally.  ”

The generosity of donors made a large impact on his education. “It was a huge help to me and my family,” says Cheney, a husband and a father of one (with another on the way). “We didn’t have to take out loans and were able to support ourselves while I was in law school. I’m really grateful for the donations that made that possible.”

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