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August 17, 2017

We Are About a Great Work

President Gilbert reflects on his experience of meeting with recent online graduates

As I look back on an opportunity I had last month to meet with former PathwayConnect and BYU-Idaho online graduates, I want to share a few thoughts.

On July 18, more than 550 online degree-seeking students completed a degree or certificate from Brigham Young University-Idaho, with nearly two-thirds beginning their journey through the PathwayConnect program. Inevitably, many online students choose to make the journey to the BYU-Idaho campus to attend graduation ceremonies in person. This last July was no exception, as 184 graduates traveled to Rexburg, Idaho, to commemorate their great sacrifice and achievement in receiving their degree.

Meeting with PathwayConnect students in Ogden, Utah, in 2015

One graduate I met recalled a visit I made to her PathwayConnect location in Utah as the President of BYU-Idaho just two years earlier. There was a sister in the 31+ group who sat at the head of the table with a puzzle piece for everyone in the room.

“Everyone in this room,” she said, “has been a part of this puzzle. We have made it this far because of each other.” She then turned to me and with tears in her eyes said, “Thank you. Thank you for all you do to make this program possible.” It was a powerful testimony of the strength we see when we gather together and serve one another. The sister who was graduating looked back thoughtfully on that day and shared her appreciation once again for the doors that have opened up to her thanks to both PathwayConnect and beyond in the online degree program at BYU-Idaho.

I met a mother and a daughter who started PathwayConnect at the same time and were graduating together. They had cherished their year together in the program and the support they felt from each other during their commutes to the weekly gatherings and then throughout their online degree programs. It’s remarkable to see how entire families are answering the call to improve their lives through the blessings of education.

Ele and Marie Thompson started PathwayConnect together and were able to both graduate last month.

Among the graduates were a brother and sister with families of their own. They also started PathwayConnect at the same time with one in Hawaii and the other in Texas. As they moved on to their degree programs, they encouraged each other to finish their business management degrees and were at long last graduating together. The brother was from Texas and the sister lived in Hawaii, yet they had worked through the program in time to graduate together. The sister even held up a sign that she was launching her very own business that day.

Patricia Maples and her brother David Ellington encouraged each other from nearly half a world apart.

As I talked to so many of our students, it just took my breath away. I was grateful for who they were, the commitment they have, their grasp of the gospel, and what this program has done in their lives. I was grateful for so many who work so hard to achieve their goals.

We are about a great work! I know the Lord is guiding this path forward in this work and in the lives of our students.

Visit pathway.lds.org to learn more about how PathwayConnect and the online degree program can help you reach your goals.

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