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November 30, 2016

Bridging the Education Gap — Part 3: The Lifelong Learner

Mike DeLuna learned that it's never too late to receive an education

Mike DeLuna

Mike DeLuna, a PathwayConnect student in Ogden, Utah, dropped out of school at a young age. He didn’t see a way back into education, and even PathwayConnect seemed too difficult.

“I never finished school beyond seventh grade. That’s as far as I went, and I just never thought about going back. I worked hard, and I made a good living and provided for myself, and I thought that’s all I needed. So the thought of going back to school was really overwhelming; I just didn’t think I could do it. But BYU-Pathway helped me realize it’s never too late.”

Still, Mike felt that studying for PathwayConnect while working a full-time job would be just too much. However, he soon discovered the pacing of homework to be just right for his situation.

PathwayConnect didn’t jump into the subjects too fast — it prepared me first.

“When I started PathwayConnect, I thought, ‘This is going to crush me.’ But it starts with a program that slowly introduces you to how to study and structure your life so you have time to learn these things. So PathwayConnect didn’t jump into the subjects too fast — it prepared me first,” he shared.

As PathwayConnect eased him back into studying, Mike felt a sense of accomplishment and love of learning as he rediscovered his talent for school. He shared a special moment of success: “I’m almost 50 years old, and I learned how to divide a few months ago. That’s a big achievement. I woke my wife up and it was one in the morning and said, ‘I know how to divide!’ That’s exciting for me to know that I can do what, up until then, I thought I couldn’t do.”

Mike and his family at their home in Ogden, Utah.

Mike and his family at their home in Ogden, Utah

Mike was thrilled as his newfound confidence made him feel intellectually accomplished and more comfortable about his education.

“The most rewarding part for me personally has been that I realized I can do this, that it wasn’t beyond my capabilities.”

For Mike, PathwayConnect created the ideal environment for him to bridge the education gap in his life.

He says, “When you find that home where you belong, it’s just a natural fit, and that’s the way it’s been with PathwayConnect. As soon as I got in, I felt like that’s where I belonged.”

Now, Mike is quick to point to the program’s religious component as the reason he was motivated to keep studying the other subjects.

As soon as I got in, I felt like that’s where I belonged.

“When I started PathwayConnect, I didn’t think it would build my testimony, but it has. The program teaches students they’re disciples of Christ. The first semester was interesting: there was a balance of academic study and religion. And I think that religious piece is what was missing before (I had never had interest in school before). Reading the Book of Mormon at the same time as my general studies built me up and gave me the confidence that I can actually achieve this.”

Mike and his wife now plan to obtain health care administration jobs after graduating with bachelor’s degrees through BYU-Idaho Online, presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway.

How did PathwayConnect help you overcome obstacles to education or career advancement? Don’t forget to come back for next week’s entry, “Part 4: The Father,” the touching story of an unemployed father determined to improve his situation.

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