November 28, 2016
A young girl leaves her parents in Venezuela and travels 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in search of a new life. She moves to the United States without money, educational prospects, or a permanent home.
How does she secure financial security in a new country? How does a recent immigrant afford to attend college? How does she rise above her poor circumstances?
This is the story of Carolina Galvis, a young woman who discovered a way to fulfill her dreams in an unfamiliar place. Through the assistance of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, she went on to become the first university student and graduate in her family and pursue her ambition of helping fellow immigrants in need.
Trials and Tears
Carolina had a rough childhood. When she was young, she transitioned between vastly different countries, cultures, and families. She grew up facing constant uncertainty over what many people take for granted: having a home to call her own, being able to attend school, and living near family members.
“I am an immigrant from Venezuela,” Carolina said. “I came to the U.S. when I was 11. I haven’t lived with my parents since. I’ve been with other families and living by myself. I started working as a nanny part-time and rented rooms from people I really didn’t know.”
Carolina tried to make the best of her situation, always working hard to succeed. But, like many others, she struggled to find a stable job. She was burdened by constant worry that she would never have a chance to change her life.
“I tried to enroll in schools, but financially it was impossible,” she recounted. From a young age, Carolina wanted to attend law school. She had a goal to help other immigrants transition to their new home, but without money to attend a university, this dream seemed unattainable.
Caught in a seemingly endless cycle of low wages and closed opportunities, Carolina gave up hope of improving her situation and abandoned her dream of earning a degree. Adding to this stress were her long hours as a full-time nanny, making her feel lonely, overworked, and forgotten.
“I thought I was never going to be able to get out of it. When you feel you are alone, and you think Heavenly Father has forgotten you, you just hit rock bottom,” shared Carolina. “Not moving forward with anything in my life was extremely frustrating. Everything that could have gone wrong happened. It was hard! I was emotionally exhausted and spiritually starving.”
Carolina did her best to press onward, but the full weight of her hopeless situation eventually got the best of her. Paralyzed by pain, financial burdens, loneliness, and the prospect of never attending university, Carolina decided she couldn’t go on.
“There was one day I got on my knees and told God, ‘I can’t do this anymore. Please stop. Help me, because I can’t do it. I cannot physically do this anymore.’”
A Pathway To Hope
During this dark time, Carolina received a blessing from her bishop. In the blessing, Carolina was promised that “everything [her] heart desired would come soon.” It wasn’t long after that Carolina found PathwayConnect.
PathwayConnect was my road to success. It’s that simple. BYU-Pathway helped me heal.
“When I heard about BYU-Pathway, I was filled with joy and gratitude,” Carolina tearfully remembered. “It meant fulfilling my dreams and becoming the person I wanted to become. Sometimes you think you have already had all the chances in the world, and then you get this amazing blessing out of nowhere. So to me, BYU-Pathway was just the biggest gift I could have ever received. Before BYU-Pathway, I didn’t see anything in my future.”
For Carolina, PathwayConnect was a way to resolve the otherwise impossible challenges being a disadvantaged immigrant presented, so she enrolled in Hingham, Massachusetts.
As Carolina found success in her classes, she began to have hope again. She could see her vision of a successful future once again.
“PathwayConnect was my road to success. It’s that simple. BYU-Pathway helped me heal. It is a testimony that the Lord is taking care of each of His children; He knows our needs and dreams, and He wants us to succeed. BYU-Pathway has given me a future by enabling me to further my education.”
After completing PathwayConnect in 2011, Carolina studied business management online through BYU-Idaho and received her bachelor’s degree in July 2015, presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway. Carolina now plans to attend law school so she can become an immigration attorney to help others overcome the challenges she herself once faced.
“Completing college is something I’ve always looked forward to, and at one point in my life seemed impossible,” Carolina said. “But it is possible. I cannot say how grateful and blessed and loved I feel. This means I’m closer to my dream, to be able to serve people and be their advocate.”
As she moves into the future with renewed hope, Carolina will remain ever grateful to BYU-Pathway for helping her surmount her difficult challenges.
“I am a new person. I am so much happier. I feel I have a future. I am moving forward. I am a new me — a better me. I want this message to be loud and clear: BYU-Pathway is a huge blessing. BYU-Pathway means hope. BYU-Pathway means dreams do come true.”
Start your path to a better life with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and join the thousands of students that have graduated with a degree from BYU-Idaho, presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway. Begin with PathwayConnect, a one-year college readiness program, and work toward earning a certificate or degree online at an affordable price. Learn more and start your application today!