The third semester in PathwayConnect is a special time for students and missionaries alike. It’s a time full of mixed feelings — excitement for the future, sadness for the end of the program, and gratitude for the lessons learned and friends made.
With such emotions, an abrupt end to the final semester can feel odd. Some groups around the world have started incorporating something known as a completion celebration to bring a feeling of closure to students who are finishing the program.
After going through so much together, many students want to celebrate their journey together and finish the program with a bang. A completion celebration honors students’ hard work, friendship, and future goals.
Sister Atwood, a service missionary in Mesa, Arizona, explained it like this: “The goal is … [for it] to be a student celebration after the completion of the PathwayConnect year. It’s an opportunity for students and leaders to share their testimonies of education and growth based on their individual experiences.”
Completion celebrations also provide a special opportunity for students to share their PathwayConnect experience with others who might not know about the program.
Many people find joy in the students’ success — supportive friends, encouraging family members, and even local priesthood leaders. They probably know about PathwayConnect, but might not understand its role in students’ lives. Attending a completion celebration can provide them with a better understanding of PathwayConnect’s purpose.
How to Plan a Completion Celebration
Missionaries and students can always collaborate if a group decides to hold a celebration. While it is not necessary to hold a completion celebration, here is some general advice missionaries and students have found helpful to get the most out of the experience:
Planning in Advance
Select the date, time, and location where the celebration will be held. Since they honor the completion of PathwayConnect, many have the celebrations toward the end of the semester. Anytime is okay, as long as it is not during a PathwayConnect gathering. Consider reserving a time at the building where gatherings are held.
Sometimes programs are prepared for those who will be attending. They can be similar in style to any Church meeting agendas, which include an opening and closing prayer, the names of the people who will be speaking, or anything else included in the celebration. Programs are not required, though — completion celebrations can be as formal or casual as the missionaries and students desire.
It may also be a good idea to know how many people are planning to attend. One way to do this is for students to create and pass out invitations to friends, family, and ward members. They could also create an event invitation on a social media platform like Facebook.
Participation from Priesthood Leaders
In some locations around the world, leaders like to know about the celebration during the planning process. This helps them to provide insights on how the celebration could be run. They are often curious to hear from students in PathwayConnect who have completed the program and may want to attend the celebration to learn about their experiences and the PathwayConnect program. Having local leaders’ support and participation during the celebration can be an important part of its success.
Inviting one or two completing students and a local priesthood leader to prepare comments or a short talk can be a great addition to a completion celebration.
“Speeches about experiences in the program can have a strong impact on those who are there,” said Ismar Vallecillos, a BYU-Pathway area manager. “As those in attendance listen to the testimonies of the students and see the way the students love and support each other, they will feel [PathwayConnect’s] power.”
Speeches provide students with an opportunity to share their experience and the lessons they learned during PathwayConnect.
Consider choosing speakers whose conviction and testimony might inspire and help others. Some common topics are as follows:
How PathwayConnect Changes Lives
Love and Fellowship in PathwayConnect
The Importance of Education
Why Enroll in PathwayConnect
Decorating and Refreshments
Many groups decorate and share refreshments to have a fun social event at the end of the celebration. Students and missionaries can both help decorate and volunteer to bring refreshments. If everyone brings a few treats to share at the end of the celebration, there will be enough for everyone.
The Most Important Part
For everyone involved, completing PathwayConnect is a significant milestone. It not only marks the achievement of academic goals, but also shines light on future opportunities students will have to continue their educational journeys.
Regardless of how the celebration is done, make sure to have fun. Completion celebrations are just one way to uplift and inspire students as they take their next big step. However it’s done, celebrating the completion of the PathwayConnect experience will help students feel encouraged, hopeful, and determined to continue to reach their potential and achieve their goals.
Students in PathwayConnect from Puebla, Mexico, gathered together for a completion celebration.
Does your PathwayConnect site hold completion celebrations? Students and missionaries can discuss the possibility of having one and work together to make preparations. Feel free to share your advice or experience in the comment section below.