March 12, 2019
Josh Williams, the epitome of a classic southern boy, was born and raised in Mississippi. Growing up, he never gave much thought to pursuing a college degree. “It just wasn’t in my family or community culture,” he said. “I never saw it as a priority for me.”
That is until he met Catherine Brett, the new doctor in town — and his future wife. “I knew she’d be the best I’d ever have,” Josh said. “She’s kind, thoughtful, sweet, and everything in-between.”
Catherine was also raised in Mississippi, and upon completing her medical residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., she decided to come back to her rural hometown to better serve the women there.
Catherine was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Josh was not. His father was a Pentecostal preacher, which made it difficult for Josh to consider joining another church. But after months of dating, mingled with missionary discussions, Josh decided to marry the love of his life and be baptized.
“It was like two huge blessings came right out of heaven,” he said. “I found the love of my life, and through her, I was introduced to the true Church of Jesus Christ.”
Of Josh, Catherine said, “I’ve never met someone so patient and compassionate. And he always knows how to make me laugh!”
In addition to the big changes Josh was making in his life, he decided to make one more: to pursue a college degree.
“When discussing how we would provide for our family, I realized I needed to get my degree,” he said. That decision was the first step in Josh’s journey toward higher education.
Growing temporally and spiritually
After hearing about PathwayConnect at church, Josh enrolled in the program. However, there were a few things that didn’t come naturally to him as he began pursuing his education. Public speaking had always been a challenge for Josh, so leading lessons and discussions at the weekly gatherings took some extra preparation.
Also, the closest local gathering was in Memphis, Tennessee, four hours away from where he lived. But the time spent traveling was nothing compared to all he was learning from the other BYU-Pathway students.
During the long drive home, Josh would have in-depth gospel discussions with Catherine, who accompanied him so he wouldn’t fall asleep. “He was more open about discussing spiritual things,” she said. “Through those weekly meetings, he was learning gospel principles in class and gaining an even stronger testimony.”
With each semester, it was easy to notice the changes that were taking place in Josh, both in his confidence and his love for the restored gospel. He and Catherine also saw improvements in their marriage when Josh started PathwayConnect. He was stepping up as a leader in their family, both spiritually and at home, which touched Catherine’s heart. Suddenly he was doing household chores without being asked and taking the initiative to lead family home evening.
“Because of the way I saw him trying to gain an education for our future, I was able to trust in his ability to be the head of our home and lead our family,” Catherine said.
“The closer I got to God, the closer I felt to Catherine,” said Josh. “It’s true that when you’re closer to God, you’re closer to each other.”
Enduring to the end: The gospel in action
After one year of weekly eight-hour drives, challenging coursework, and a new habit of daily scripture study which led to innumerable spiritual experiences, Josh completed the PathwayConnect program. PathwayConnect not only helped him gain temporal skills for the workplace, but it also helped him deepen his relationship with Jesus Christ.
“My faith in Christ is strengthened because of this experience,” Josh said. “I’ve learned so much more about Him through this process. I feel like I’m doing what He wants me to do.”
Josh is currently working on earning his social media marketing certificate as he works toward a BYU-Idaho online bachelor’s degree, presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway.