March 25, 2014
Scholarships, life coaching, job shadowing — these are terms that aren’t typically associated with PathwayConnect. But for the students in Prescott, Arizona, these aids are readily available thanks to a unique local partnership.
Today, the Arizona Prescott Chapter of the BYU Management Society is offering PathwayConnect students — as well as local young adults, recently returned missionaries, and high school seniors — a variety of meaningful services, including professional networking, access to life coaches, and career mentoring. Students can apply for scholarships on a semester basis, and each continuing semester, scholarship recipients are expected to utilize the numerous services provided by the chapter.
“One reason this has all been so effective is because there are a lot of professionals here who are willing to support in any way possible,” says Byron Jackson, president of the chapter. “BYU-Idaho does a tremendous job advising the PathwayConnect students, but it’s also important to have someone local — a professional to provide mentoring, go to lunch with, and shadow for a day.”
So what motivates Byron and his team to shepherd PathwayConnect students in this way? After learning about PathwayConnect as a bishop in a YSA (Young Single Adult) ward in Spokane, Washington, he knew this was something he wanted to be part of.
“I was able to see PathwayConnect in action and learn what a blessing the program is for both YSA and adults,” said Byron. That inspiration lingered as he and his wife, Nancy, moved to Prescott and determined to continue to help young professionals who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Blessings to Students
Julie and James Crockett are two such individuals who have been blessed by the chapter’s service and resources.
The Crocketts have five children between the ages of 4–15. They decided to pursue PathwayConnect, hoping to earn college degrees and open more doors of opportunity professionally. Both were awarded scholarships that cover approximately 30 percent of their PathwayConnect tuition.
“It’s been a huge blessing,” said James. “We run our own business, so every little bit helps.”
The scholarships awarded by the chapter typically come with various requirements. One of the requirements of students who receive a scholarship for their third semester of PathwayConnect is to meet with one of the chapter’s life coaches.
“It was great,” shared Julie. “The life coach came and met with us in our home. After giving us advice, he also encouraged us to mentor other students in the future.”
These life coaches have been trained to support PathwayConnect students in making important college and career choices.
“Developing a life plan with specific, attainable goals will enable students to move forward in their personal lives, become an asset to the community, and be better able to provide for their families,” said Byron Jackson.
This is the type of collaborative synergy that the Arizona Prescott Chapter is trying to instill in the lives of its members and the PathwayConnect students. Each time the chapter gets together for a social event or a fundraiser, they invite the students. This interaction helps blossom relationships and trust between students and chapter members. The chapter has already hosted multiple College and Career Nights, where chapter members mentor and share personal experiences with PathwayConnect students.
Derek Pereira is another student who has greatly benefited from the scholarships and services provided by the chapter. Before moving to Prescott from San Diego, Derek attended a community college. However, after the move, Derek didn’t know how he would be able to continue with his schooling.
“The traditional route wasn’t working for me,” Derek shared. “The cost was out of my price range, and I didn’t want to move to the BYU-Idaho campus. I wanted to continue my life in Prescott but still work on my education with flexibility. PathwayConnect fit that. It’s nice to have the opportunity provided by chapter members who are personally interested in my development.”
Spiritual Growth Through PathwayConnect
The services and scholarships offered by the chapter are indeed significant. But, perhaps more importantly, they act as a launch pad to help students more fully embrace the spiritual and temporal blessings that PathwayConnect and increased education provides.
“Right now I am taking PathwayConnect’s English course, and my instructor frequently posts spiritual messages and applies them to the teachings,” said Derek. It’s great to involve the Spirit in my education and learn from other classmates who feel that same Spirit.”
“PathwayConnect has given me more confidence,” said James Crockett. “I know that I have the ability to do school, and I’ve been remembering things I learned before.
The students aren’t the only ones benefiting spiritually from PathwayConnect.
Elder and Sister Nieffenegger serve as missionaries at PathwayConnect’s site in Prescott. Eleven years ago, the two presided over the Texas Houston South Mission, so they are both accustomed to interacting with aspiring young adults.
“PathwayConnect has been one of the greatest experiences in our lives with the Church,” Elder Nieffenegger shared. “We quickly grow to love the students. It is as if we have 75 children. No matter how old they are, we’re involved in their lives. We see how their lives are changing. We see the difficulties when there is a death in the family or if a financial crisis comes along. Their issues become our issues as well.”
Byron and Nancy Jackson interact with PathwayConnect students every Thursday as institute instructors. As a crucial part of the entire PathwayConnect experience, Nancy believes that “spiritual development is key to maintaining a change of heart and deepening commitment to living a productive and fulfilling life.”
The effects of PathwayConnect can be everlasting — benefits that extend far beyond the year of courses or pursuit of a college degree.
“There are a handful of people in our group who were not very active before PathwayConnect,” shared James Crockett. “Some of these people have now gone through the temple, partaken of those ordinances, and are now very active and incredibly happy.”
The Powerful Combination of Temporal and Spiritual Support
Something very special and unique is happening in Prescott, Arizona. It is remarkable that the chapter members — individuals not even affiliated with BYU-Idaho — have sensed an opportunity to use their talents and serve aspiring, local Latter-day Saints. Those in Prescott have effectively infused professional and individual mentorship at the local level with the hope and spiritual growth that PathwayConnect offers. The result is a spiritually-cultivated partnership that uniquely blesses the lives of all who are involved.