November 8, 2017
It might be hard for us to see our progress while enrolled in PathwayConnect, but our friends and family members have a front-row seat to the many improvements we make. Beth Kirby, a student from Annandale, Virginia, felt lucky to have her dear friend Robyn Price witness the dramatic changes she made in her life while taking courses through BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
“Hi Beth, I’m Robyn. How are you?”
I smile and stretch my hand down toward Beth, who is sitting on the couch. She nervously reaches up from her sofa and shakes my hand.
Our eyes meet for a split second before Beth loosens her grip and drops her gaze back down to the floor. It’s clear that Beth feels uneasy and fearful around me and the members of the Relief Society presidency I’m visiting with.
Neither Beth nor I realized at that time how close and personal our friendship would eventually grow. It was through this friendship that I witnessed a phenomenal change in Beth’s life as she pursued a BYU-Idaho online degree provided through BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
Returning to Church
Beth battled issues of extreme anxiety for much of her life. She felt “painfully shy” in front of others, and experienced panic attacks from time to time. With help from ward members, however, she soon gained the courage to return to Church activity.
I became one of Beth’s good friends after being called as her visiting teacher. She soon opened up to me and shared her goal to return to school, but felt highly discouraged because of the cost.
After hearing about PathwayConnect at a fireside, however, Beth quickly enrolled. In the following months, she became more involved with the program, and I began seeing the many positive changes in my dear friend.
Those changes were huge in my eyes.
“I began seeing the many positive changes in my dear friend.”
The Transformative Power of Education
As she was returning to church, teaching in front of others was nearly impossible for Beth. But in order to complete her assignments, she went outside her comfort zone and taught others each week the principles she was learning in her PathwayConnect courses.
After a few weeks, Beth started feeling more comfortable around others and reached out to other students on her own — even outside of gatherings. As she moved steadily through her PathwayConnect and church activities, Beth’s fellow students and our ward members noticed how her confidence steadily grew.
Through this time, Beth courageously fought through her weaknesses, and always did a great job in her courses. She learned that she was capable, competent, and in her words, “not stupid.”
Beth became the chorister and later a teacher in our ward’s Relief Society, fulfilling her calling very well. With the help of the Lord, she left her anxieties at home and joined me at church activities throughout the week — something she never would have done months previously.
As a Relief Society teacher, she was genuine, connected well with the sisters, and tried to engage everyone. Some of the sisters even seemed surprised when she first began to teach, not realizing how far Beth had come.
A semester before Beth earned her associate’s degree, her mother passed away. Dealing with the stress of her mother’s passing and working full-time nearly made Beth want to quit. But she wouldn’t give up. After a brief break, Beth faithfully returned to the online program and earned her degree in web design and development.
The Source of Strength
Beth constantly expressed her gratitude to Heavenly Father for helping her get through her challenges and responsibilities. I truly believe that she gained spiritual power through her studies as she learned to rely on Heavenly Father. Most importantly, she told me that she felt His love, which was something she hadn’t felt in a long time.
Beth made a decision from the beginning of PathwayConnect that she wasn’t going to give up. Her close friends and loved ones are proud to see how her life has changed so dramatically.
I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to witness this remarkable change in Beth. Coming back to Church, enrolling in PathwayConnect, and earning her degree is just the beginning for her.
Just like many others, Beth has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more information on PathwayConnect, visit byupathway.lds.org.