February 6, 2017
Pamela Crouse is a mother of three who dreamt of earning a college degree but knew that money and time put it beyond her reach. Despite the overwhelming demands of caring for a mentally-handicapped son and homeschooling her two other sons, Pam began pursuing higher education through PathwayConnect. What she found in PathwayConnect changed her life in unexpected ways and proved to her that anyone can change — anyone can overcome the hardest of difficulties.
The Refiner’s Fire
For years, Pam wanted to return to college. But as time passed, she felt her opportunity fading away from her. She had pressing home responsibilities that left her with little time or energy for hobbies, let alone college.
Pam described that hard time, saying, “I had not mentioned returning to college to anyone because I felt that the obstacles in getting there were just too great. I was forty-two years old, and it had been forever since I had attended any form of school. My husband worked long hours, and I had three boys at home. My youngest son had Down syndrome and required constant supervision and attention. Not only did I feel it would be extremely difficult to find the time for school, I knew we could not afford it.”
In such circumstances, Pam thought she would never get the chance to further her own education. But then one day a simple invitation gave her hope amid her resignation.
“One day my cousin invited me to attend a PathwayConnect fireside in my area in hopes that it may be something in which my two high-school-aged boys might have an interest. I had never before heard of PathwayConnect, but as I sat through the fireside, I realized that it was the answer for me. I signed up that night,” she recollected.
For Pam, the opportunity of higher education at PathwayConnect’s low cost with the flexibility of online courses was a godsend. What Pam didn’t know that day was that PathwayConnect would eventually change her life in ways she didn’t then imagine.
An Unexpected Realization
Pam’s perseverance to enroll in PathwayConnect and gain all the education she could brought more blessings than she expected. PathwayConnect changed her personal life as well, impacting her personality and lifestyle.
“If you ask me what I think of PathwayConnect now that I’m almost finished with the program, I will tell you that it has very literally changed my life. Sure, it’s great to further your education. However, that’s not all I’m talking about.”
In addition to new academic opportunities, PathwayConnect also presented Pam with unexpectedly profound spiritual blessings, which in turn gave her renewed energy and hope to face her challenges and become more Christlike in her everyday life.
Pam said it all started with an assignment. “In my first semester, we had a project in our Book of Mormon class. It was called the Becoming Project. The objective of the project was to study the different attributes of Christ and choose one to develop to try to become more like Christ throughout the semester. At first glance, I thought it would be an easy project. As I studied some of the attributes, I thought that I could choose something like honesty or faith. I was pretty good at those two.”
But Pam didn’t settle for easy goals. She took a sincere, dedicated approach to PathwayConnect, choosing goals that would stretch her and allow for lasting growth.
She continued, “Upon further reflection of Christ’s character, I decided that I should work on charity, the pure love of Christ. I was now aware that this project wouldn’t be simple; it would be arduous for a person such as myself.”
Pam said her decision to deliberately make her project more difficult was the result of honest introspection.
“If you were to ask someone what I was like when I began the Becoming Project, they would probably say that I was brutally honest, outspoken, and somewhat negative. I could be referred to as abrasive or unfeeling. You might even hear the phrase ‘Ice Queen’ come from a few,” Pam admitted.
With such a challenging goal ahead of her, Pam worked hard to see real improvement. Faced with her challenges of juggling parenting, money, and time, Pam decided to set specific goals that allowed her to accomplish her more general aim of developing charity.
“As I moved through the semester, I did much searching and discovering regarding charity. I set goals which revolved around being less judgmental, looking for the positive, and serving others. I quickly grasped the fact that I couldn’t do this alone. I added much prayer to my goals,” Pam said.
All of a sudden I felt it. I literally felt my heart and my life changing. I couldn’t believe it.
As the semester progressed, God answered Pam’s prayers. She began to see her habits and attitudes change. Her goals became easier to accomplish, and she felt her heart changing at a fundamental level. PathwayConnect was filling her with a light that made the stressful hours, uncertain finances, and distant goal of a college degree all seem easier to manage. She had found her light along the path.
“As I prayed, as I studied, and as I completed my goals, things became easier for me. I actually developed the desire to serve others in the way which they needed. I found myself giving people the benefit of the doubt and noticing good things about them. I prayed daily to feel the love God feels for others.”
Pam still remembers the moment she realized she was a better person: “All of a sudden, I felt it. I literally felt my heart and my life changing. I couldn’t believe it. I had been the same person for forty-two years, and here I was feeling very different. I began to actually like and care about people. I had become a better person. I had become closer to Christ. PathwayConnect has helped me to become a better wife and mother. It has helped me to become far more spiritual, which has helped me in many areas of my role in my family.”
“He Will Fight For Us”
Pam is adamant that anyone who feels hopeless or overwhelmed can receive the kind of help that she did: “We all have challenges and trials. For me, those involve being overwhelmed with not having enough time to get things done, raising teenagers and a son with special needs and living paycheck to paycheck so that I can stay home and teach my boys. None of us can do it alone, but with the help of our Heavenly Father, it can be done. He will fight for us if we ask Him. He will bless us if we remain faithful, obedient and grateful. He will help us through ANYTHING.”
Pam’s experience with PathwayConnect helps her look to the future with faith and hope. Her time with PathwayConnect has given her a new vision of life: everyone deserves to be loved, and God will help.
Pam is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree online through BYU-Idaho in marriage and family studies. She plans to later pursue a master’s degree in counseling and use her newfound charity to help others improve their lives.