“BYU-Pathway Worldwide: ‘A Monumental Moment in Church Education’” Ensign, August 2019
For more than a century, hundreds of thousands of Church members have pursued higher education on the campuses of Church-sponsored colleges and universities. But for millions of other members, attending one of these universities—or any university, for that matter—feels like an impossibility. Tuition costs, competitive admission requirements, geographical distance, and a host of other obstacles discourage members from even applying. Given the Church’s doctrinal focus on education, these obstacles can leave members feeling discouraged and hopeless.
BYU-Pathway Worldwide was created with those members in mind. This new educational initiative—composed of the PathwayConnect program as well as online certificates and degrees offered in partnership with BYU-Idaho—allows members to pursue higher education wherever the Church is organized at a fraction of normal tuition costs. Last year alone, over 40,000 Church members in 100 countries participated.
Speaking to this tremendous growth, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “We’re part of a monumental moment in Church education in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is one of those pivotal marks in our history that we won’t fully understand until we look back at it years and maybe decades from now.”1
BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities. It does this by helping students grow in their testimony, adopt practices of effective learning, and gain the skills and direction they need to lead and support their families.
This pursuit of education and self-reliance has always been an aspect of our discipleship. In 1833, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, “I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:3).
Elder Kim B. Clark, Commissioner of the Church Educational System (2015–19), said: “Zion is everywhere the Lord has established His Church. Brothers and sisters, it is a miracle that we can say today that BYU-Pathway is a school in Zion, wherever Zion is.”2
Like many returned missionaries, Hyrum found the transition from missionary life in Australia to his home life in Utah, USA, to be difficult. Mission life had given him structure and purpose and direction. But what was his purpose now?
BYU-Pathway Worldwide gave him the structure and purpose he was seeking. In his weekly gatherings in the PathwayConnect program, Hyrum felt motivated by the encouragement and perspectives of his fellow students. His assignments in his religion classes kept him reading the scriptures and seeking the Spirit each day. Other studies with BYU-Pathway helped him identify the career path he wanted to pursue.
“BYU-Pathway provides many resources that help returned missionaries continue their spiritual and temporal education,” Hyrum said. “Through PathwayConnect, they’ll be able to polish the skills they learned on their mission to help prepare themselves for their future.”
Hyrum completed PathwayConnect and is now enrolled in an online degree program. His goal is to earn the prerequisites to qualify for a radiology degree at another university.
“BYU-Pathway instigates that drive to progress and figure out what your next step is. It gives you a guide—a compass and a course—for where you want to go next in life.”
BYU-Pathway Worldwide pre-approves all young returning and recently returned missionaries for admission to PathwayConnect who meet the English language requirements. See details at byupathway.lds.org/returnedmissionary.
As a single mother of three children, Ashley desperately wanted to provide for her family. But educational opportunities in Montana, USA, where she lived seemed expensive and ill-suited to her busy life as a mom. Trusting in the Lord, Ashley prayed for guidance. A few months later her prayers were answered when she discovered PathwayConnect, a one-year online program that teaches students basic skills in how to succeed at home, at work, at church, and in school.
Through weekly gatherings with other students, coupled with her online coursework, Ashley learned how to be a better mother and developed a newfound love of the scriptures.
“I don’t think a change of heart happens only once or twice in our lives,” Ashley said. “It can happen over and over again. PathwayConnect taught me that. It changed my heart and helped me become more of the woman I’m meant to be.”
After PathwayConnect, Ashley earned a bachelor’s degree online through BYU-Pathway’s partnership with BYU-Idaho and is now enrolled in a master’s degree program in Montana. Ashley also recently remarried and was sealed to her husband.
“[My degree program] has been such a blessing for me, and more than simply academically. The same spirit I felt through my PathwayConnect courses continued in my upper-level courses as well.”
For years, getting an education seemed impossible to Michael. He couldn’t afford to quit his job and enroll in school full-time. But after hearing about PathwayConnect, he realized his goal of becoming a software engineer was more attainable than he’d thought.
“I started PathwayConnect with a very limited knowledge of English,” Michael said. “Week after week, I gained the necessary confidence to keep moving forward and improve.”
After PathwayConnect, Michael started an online degree program in the technology field. As he began the first certificate of his degree program, he started networking and was offered a position he couldn’t pass up.
“It was the biggest opportunity of my life. After a while, they liked my work so much that they offered me a promotion.”
Because of his education through BYU-Pathway Worldwide, Michael was able to quadruple his income and get a job as a senior user-interface engineer in Brazil.
“Without knowing how to study, without English, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere,” he said. “BYU-Pathway has given me everything I have.”
Carolina grew up in Venezuela but at the young age of 11 moved to the United States. She dreamed of earning a degree and becoming a lawyer, but the burden of paying for school made her dream feel unobtainable.
“I had no money. I could not afford school. I felt I had no choice but to give up on my dream.”
Caught in a cycle of low wages and limited opportunities, Carolina struggled to find a stable job and make ends meet. When Carolina heard about BYU-Pathway Worldwide, she knew it was an answer to prayers.
After completing the one-year PathwayConnect program, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management. “Completing college always seemed impossible. But now I know that it is possible. I’m closer to my dream than I’ve ever been. Soon I’ll be able to serve people as their attorney and advocate.”