February 4, 2014
Education. Self-improvement. Empowerment. Intelligence. Capability. These are not just tools to build a career or provide for a family; they are principles at the core of modern living and a vital part of the gospel.
Fifty-eight percent of PathwayConnect students are women, and many of them can testify of the renewed confidence, strengthened sense of purpose, and closeness to Heavenly Father that education can provide. Strength, self-sufficiency, and an increased capacity to serve all await the woman who educates herself.
Sister Mary N. Cook, a former counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, advised the young women about education. She said, “[God] has a work for you to do. To accomplish this work, you have an individual responsibility to seek learning.”1
As children of God, we chose to come to this earth so that we could reach our fullest potential. As we pursue opportunities to learn, we become more like our heavenly parents, who “comprehendeth all things.”2 There is nothing more important in this life than striving to reach our divine potential.
Serving and Providing
Education is not just for our own growth and progress. Fabiola Popuchet, from San Antonio, Texas, discovered that education plays a vital role not only in becoming self-reliant, but also in serving others. As she attended PathwayConnect and fulfilled her role as a single mother of two teenage daughters, her capacity to serve was increased.
“Education is important regardless of if you are a woman or a man,” she said, “because it enables you to support yourself, and then you can help other people. My first goal is to be able to help others, and an education gives me more of an opportunity to do that.”
My first goal is to help others, and an education gives me an opportunity to do that.
Lauren Bone, from Kearns, Utah, realized she could be a blessing to those she loves as she learned to provide for her small family. PathwayConnect opened new doors for her to take care of those she loved when her husband was unable to find full-time work.
Lauren already worked, but her studies in PathwayConnect gave her opportunities to learn, improve her confidence, and prepare for an interview at work that won her a promotion. At the interview, she felt like she had been well-prepared by her PathwayConnect courses. She said, “All the candidates that I was up against were amazing — I don’t think there was anything that made me more desirable than them, other than that I had taken these classes.”
But a promotion at her job was not the only blessing she received. Lauren knows that her education will help in the eternities, too. She said, “I’m never going to lose that knowledge. I am going to take it with me.”
Not only will our knowledge continue with us after this life, but we can also pass on our knowledge to children and friends. That eternal perspective has consistently appeared in the lives and teachings of Church leaders. In the past and present alike, prophets and apostles have stressed how important it is for women to obtain an education.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in 1975 that “a mother’s vital teaching responsibility makes it even more important to have educated mothers than to have educated fathers.”3 Teaching children by example about the value of learning inspires them to pursue their own educations.
JaNae Christensen, a PathwayConnect student from Utah with a family of her own, has certainly seen how her education blesses her family. She does not know if she will be looking for a career after earning a degree, but she has seen that PathwayConnect is not only for those who want to start their careers. “I’ve learned a lot more about how to be a teacher,” she said. “I’m also digging into the scriptures deeper than I have before. I can share the knowledge I’ve gained.”
Something For Everyone
Women from all walks of life, single and married, young and old, inexperienced or accomplished, need to stretch their minds and continue the eternal process of learning and self-improvement.
To accomplish this work, you have an individual responsibility to seek learning.
Christy Rutherford of Sequim, Washington, was not sure how PathwayConnect could help her — she had plenty of life experience that seemed to negate the need for a formal religious education. “I’ve taught seminary for 14 years, I’ve taught Gospel Doctrine, and I’ve taught in Young Women’s… I thought, ‘What in the world can I learn at 63 years old?'”
She soon found that her PathwayConnect experience provided her ample opportunities for growth. “Time management, finances, budgeting… those things I thought I knew everything about, I really didn’t.”
“If I’m going to become like God, I’m going to have to know everything. I might as well get started!”
Those eternal blessings we gain from pursuing education apply to nearly every part of our lives. Women can and should make education a priority, for all the good they can do themselves, their families, and their communities.