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May 12, 2017

Motherhood or a Degree?

The world tries to limit our choices, Amber learned she could have it all

When Amber was twenty years old, she dropped out of community college1 to take care of her growing family. She always wanted to return to school and finish her degree, but for years, it seemed that Amber’s only options excluded one of her dreams: she could either return to school or take care of her kids. Amber felt she only had one choice — she could either finish her degree or raise a family.

She chose to put off her schooling and care for her family, trusting that someday she would get her chance to go back to school.

In 2014, Amber found an option that expanded her choices.

After attending her husband’s graduation, Amber felt an urge to do more

Amber visited the BYU-Idaho campus with her husband, who was receiving his associate degree in general studies from the online program. Some of the people she met at the graduation had completed PathwayConnect, and many were in similar situations to hers — working parents with busy lives.

If they could do it, couldn’t she?

“‘Now is the time,’ I thought. ‘What am I waiting for? There are other people that are busy with life and kids and other things, and yet they’re making this happen.’” Amber shared. “I couldn’t doubt it — I felt like this was what I was supposed to do.”

I was showing them that you don’t have to give up when things get hard.

When she returned home to California, she looked into the program more and learned that PathwayConnect empowered her to live both her dreams. She could be a mother and a student — a woman who raised a loving family and a woman who pursued a career. She began to work toward a degree for the first time in years.

Amber and her PathwayConnect group after a gathering.

Support in an unexpected place gave Amber the motivation for something more

Amber’s entire family stepped up as she and her husband both studied — she had her PathwayConnect courses, and he continued taking online classes through BYU-Idaho to earn  his Bachelor’s of Science in business management.

More than the physical help they gave daily, Amber remembers the emotional support from her family.

“My older kids were very supportive and would ask me questions like, ‘Mom, what are you studying?’ In fact, a lot of the math that I was doing was the same math that my children were doing, so we compared notes and studied together.”

After completing the year of PathwayConnect, Amber immediately began working toward a Bachelor’s of Science in university studies through BYU-Idaho’s online degree program, which put her on the path to achieve her lifelong dream of teaching Anatomy and Physiology. It was a dream she had long since abandoned, but she was filled with new hope and ambition by her studies and the support of her family.

Amber proudly holds her diploma after receiving her associate degree in general studies at BYU-Idaho.

After attending her graduation, Amber left BYU-Idaho with more than a degree

Amber finished her associate degree in general studies a year after competing PathwayConnect. Her family accompanied her as she attended the commencement in Rexburg, and they discovered that the spirit they felt on campus filled each of them with a newfound passion for education.

No matter how many university courses they have previously taken, students can incorporate those completed credits into a plan that will move them closer to graduation. What’s more, students can work toward their degree in stackable chunks. They can complete a certificate or associate degree, then build on that foundation to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“Our children were immediately touched by the spirit on campus,” said Amber, “and now they talk about when they are going to attend BYU-Idaho, and what classes they will take, and when they will graduate. It was an experience for the whole family, not just me.”

PathwayConnect meant Amber no longer had to choose

As Amber progressed in her education, she found that small acts of kindness and support from her family carried her through. Despite what the world was telling her, she realized she didn’t have to choose between motherhood and education.

She could be a mother and a student. She could take classes and take care of her family. PathwayConnect made it possible for Amber and it can make a degree possible for you.


PathwayConnect gave Amber the opportunity to be a mother and a student. See how a degree can fit into your life and apply today at pathway.lds.org.

  1. ^ A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries, but usually refers to an educational institution that provides post-secondary education and continuing education. See Wikipedia for more information.

Comment on "Motherhood or a Degree?"

Shella Ferdinand says:

Thanks ladies for good example. You give me the strength that I need to keep on pressing forward.

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