Erin is graduating from the master's in school leadership program and a juris doctor (JD) degree this December. Photo by Brad Slade.

BYU student Erin Cranor is no stranger to stepping up to the plate. Not many would take on the challenge of pursuing both a juris doctor (JD) degree and a master’s in school leadership separately, let alone together. However, Cranor finds joy in pursuing both because of her constant interaction with educators and peers and the opportunity to influence future generations. “I saw the importance of education policy and law in the lives of individual young people and their hopes to reach their potential and wanted to become better equipped to help in the work of both great policy and navigating and influencing education law.”

Cranor built a distinguished career prior to coming to BYU, working as the director of development for Boys & Girls Clubs in Las Vegas and consulting for many youth development organizations. She wrote grant proposals, designed and implemented outcomes measurement tools, reported on grants, and maintained donor relations. She has served as the president of the Nevada Association of School Boards. Cranor was also the first female president of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA), the governing board for high school athletics in Nevada. A lot of her work involved developing and implementing K–12 policies around sexual orientation and gender identity. During her time on the NIAA, she helped develop Nevada’s first transgender athlete policy. Cranor attributes such success to the collaboration among her board members: “There’s a joy that comes from working together and creating something.”

Family is central to Cranor’s life, and a BYU education has been central to her family. Her husband, Bud, a 1995 BYU alumnus with a BS in public relations, is Cranor’s enthusiastic mentor, companion, and support in every adventure. This fall, their daughter Erin, a BYU alumna who graduates this week with an MBA from Idaho State University, will be starting law school at BYU. They will be studying together–it will be the daughter’s first semester, and the mother’s last. Their oldest son, Tanner, graduated from BYU last year and now lives with his wife, Rebecca, and son in Minnesota. Cranor’s two youngest children, Lauren and Jimmy, also attend BYU, and Lauren is pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s in athletic training. Jimmy aspires to work in the medical field and is majoring in food science. It’s expected that Erin, Lauren, and Jimmy will all graduate in 2023, at which point their family will have earned a total of 11 BYU degrees, each a blessing in their individual lives with hopes to “go forth to serve.”

Erin at a Clark County graduation with her daughter Erin, son Jimmy, and their high school teacher and student council advisor Ramiro Martinez. Photo courtesy of Bud Cranor.

On top of being a student, Cranor is a mentor for first-year law students, a member of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies Management Board, and a law clerk for BYU’s general counsel office. Her experience as a law clerk helped her cultivate a passion for education law, she said, helping her learn more about the subject than she could have imagined. “My love of education and sense of its fundamental importance is strengthened, and I often experience joy both in learning and in my part-time work in education law,” Cranor said.

Cranor also works on the BYU Education and Law Journal. She refers to it as “a highlight” of her life. The Education Law Journal is a peer-reviewed publication that generates scholarly discussion concerning important education issues. Cranor works with a team of graduate students and faculty from both the BYU law school and the McKay School. Working on the journal has sometimes been a challenge because education and law have traditionally been distinct, Cranor says, but there is hope that the two will come together more closely to influence education policy and law. “I hope for great results for many years in the lives of young people because of much better education policy going forward.”

As she prepares to graduate in December, Cranor reflected on her appreciation for all those with whom she’s interacted in the program. “Our professors at the McKay School foster this amazing creative culture by treating us as colleagues as well, learning together with us while leading us with talent, skill, patience, and love for us and for the students whose lives we hope to bless in the future.”

One of the biggest takeaways for Cranor from her time in EdLF is the level of effort that she, her professors, and her peers put in to help people reach their potential. “It’s a community that encourages change for the better. Expect to be supported. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be changed.”

Writer: Cameron Hussein

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922