May 12, 2017
As Amber Thompson drove to her gathering with so much still left undone at home, she felt conflicted — why wasn’t she with her family more? Was she abandoning them? What more could she do?
Hours later, with the “mom guilt” heavy on her shoulders, Amber walked back through the door of her home, but something was different.
“My ten-year-old daughter had cleaned my whole room, made my bed, and put away all the laundry,” Amber shared. “She wrote me a note that told me how proud she was of me for going back to school and working so hard. It was so good to see that I wasn’t letting my kids down. I was doing the opposite; I was showing them that you don’t have to give up when things get hard.”
Family or education?
When Amber was twenty, 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 18 years later, she still had not earned a single new credit.
For years, it seemed that all of Amber’s options excluded one of her dreams: she could either return to school or take care of her kids. She could have a career or 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.
Then, she found an option that did not ask her to choose. In 2014, Amber visited the BYU-Idaho campus with her husband, who was receiving his associate degree in general studies from the online program at BYU-Idaho. At a dinner for online students, she heard speakers bear testimony of their studies.
Some of the people she met had completed Pathway. Many were in similar situations to hers — working parents with busy lives.
If they could do it, could she?
“I left that dinner feeling so strange,” she said. “I thought, ‘Now is the time. What am I waiting for? There are other people that are busy with life and kids and things, and yet they’re making this happen.’ 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 registered for Pathway and began to work towards a degree for the first time in years.
As many had discovered before her, Amber learned that Pathway 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. Pathway began to bless her life and the lives of her children in ways she could not have imagined.
"What did you do in your Pathway class, Mommy?"
Amber’s entire family stepped up as she and her husband both studied — she had her Pathway courses, and he continued taking online classes through BYU-Idaho to get his Bachelor’s of Science in business management.
Amber’s weekly gathering was over an hour away from their home, so everyone had to work together to get everything done around the house. But 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, ‘Oh, 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.” Even her four-year-old would ask, “What did you do in your Pathway class today, Mommy?”
The support Amber received from her family strengthened her as she finished Pathway. The opportunity to attend and excel in the program changed everything about her outlook. “I gained so much confidence from the experience because I remembered that I was capable of a lot of these things,” she said. “It was so good to realize that I didn’t have to hang up my hat — I had a lot of game left in me.”
After a year of Pathway, she immediately began working online toward a Bachelor's of Science in university studies through BYU-Idaho, 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.
A New Spirit and a New Passion
Amber pushed forward until, after a year, she finished her associate degree in general studies. She and her family decided to make the trip up to Rexburg to attend commencement and receive her diploma in person. Her family accompanied her, and the spirit they felt on campus filled them all 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 two-year degree, then build on that foundation to earn a four-year degree.|
“They 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.” The trip taught them all of the good influence education can have on any family.
From small acts of kindness and support — like folded laundry and notes of love — to a trip that would change all of their lives, Amber Thompson and her whole family have been blessed by her studies in Pathway.
Amber’s confident example continues to impact her children as she now continues on to earning her bachelor’s degree, giving her children a powerful reminder that “you don’t have to give up when things get hard.”
How has Pathway blessed your family?