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April 14, 2015

Answer to a Prayer

Malivahn found PathwayConnect and took control of her education

“We must also find ways for this college to serve young people whose needs are shaped by a great variety of cultures and situations, and who may not be able to come to this campus…. We will find direct ways to move the blessing of education…from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.” (President Henry B. Eyring, Ricks College Inaugural Response, December 1971)

When Malivahn McGill, a then 28-year-old single mother, heard these words during an informational presentation by service missionaries assigned to BYU-Pathway, she was brought to tears. 

You have no idea — this is the answer to my prayers. It is exactly what I need in my life.

“I was bawling my eyes out,” she said to the missionaries after learning about PathwayConnect. “You have no idea; this is the answer to my prayers. It is exactly what I need in my life.”

Before PathwayConnect

Malivahn dreamed of attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. But after a rough senior year in high school, poor grades made it nearly impossible for her to be accepted. “I was ashamed that I wasn’t an honor student,” she said.

Malivahn decided, instead, to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead. Though she loved it there and met people who would be “lifelong friends,” she couldn’t help feeling that something was missing.

“I remember opening the door into my apartment my sophomore year of college and taking a moment to ponder about my life choices. I thought to myself, ‘This is my life now. I’m in Minnesota, attending a non-Mormon school, and dating a non-Mormon guy.’ It was weird to me because my goal from 9th grade was to go to BYU,” Malivahn shared in her blog.

Malivahn never finished her degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead and instead returned home to Lakeville, Minnesota, where she got married and gave birth to her daughter, Mallory. A few years later, after her marriage ended in divorce, Malivahn decided to go to beauty school so she could find a way to provide for herself and her daughter.

Malivahn McGill and her daughter, Mallory

Malivahn McGill and her daughter, Mallory

An Answer to a Prayer

After graduating from beauty school and finding a job as a hairstylist, Malivahn still felt the need for higher education.

“I registered at a local technical college, feeling very excited about it, yet feeling like it was the wrong decision at the same time. I prayed about it for nights, still not sure what the right choice was. Then one day, I woke up in the morning and had this very strong impression that I needed to go to one of the BYU schools.”

She researched what it would take to attend BYU or BYU-Idaho on campus. When she couldn’t find any possible way to attend either one, she almost gave up. It was then that Elder and Sister Abrahamson, her former seminary teachers (and now service missionaries) presented PathwayConnect to Malivahn’s ward.

“The Lord sent the Abrahamsons to my ward that Sunday so that I would know that it is absolutely possible for me to do what He wants me to do as long as I am willing,” she said.

Though life didn’t immediately fall into place, Malivahn felt like things “just worked” as she went through the program. She met her future husband and managed to juggle a relationship, work, and her duties as a mother.

After PathwayConnect

Now that she has finished PathwayConnect, Malivahn hopes to continue her education by earning a bachelor’s degree in marriage and family studies online through BYU-Idaho, presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway. 

PathwayConnect creates opportunities for people like Malivahn, opening doors she and others thought were closed forever.

With 289 operating sites around the world, PathwayConnect is truly helping to fulfill President Eyring’s promise that “we will find direct ways to move the blessing of education…from this campus out into the lives of men and women everywhere.”

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