March 28, 2019
“BYU-Pathway has come in this time so that our brothers and sisters can strengthen themselves and their families, and contribute in a more powerful way to the building up of the Kingdom of God and the establishment of Zion.” 1
— Elder Kim B. Clark
BYU-Pathway Worldwide experienced tremendous growth in its reach and impact in 2018. We are working diligently to build a school in Zion and for Zion by expanding access to education for students throughout the world, strengthening students spiritually, and increasing employability.
BYU-Pathway is also quickly becoming a model of education for a new type of student across an increasingly worldwide Church. We are focused on serving first-generation and non-traditional students — a demographic that makes up over half of the Church. In fact, nearly 70 percent of our students choose between BYU-Pathway or no higher education at all.
Similar to the time of the Nephites, there is great inequality for learning opportunities in the world today — even in the U.S., only 11 percent of students whose parents are in the bottom income quartile will complete a bachelor’s degree.2 Many Church members are faced with the obstacle of finding meaningful work and income without the means to earn an education. BYU-Pathway is creating unique opportunities tailored specifically to their needs. In this sense, BYU-Pathway is reaching toward Zion, as described in Doctrine and Covenants 82:17-19, by helping every member improve their talents through increased access to education.
In November, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and other members of the Church Board of Education addressed BYU-Pathway’s worldwide audience in a special broadcast. Elder Holland said, “[W]e’re part of a monumental moment in Church education. … This is one of those pivotal marks in our history that we won’t fully understand until we look back at it years and maybe decades from now.”
Speaking to BYU-Pathway students striving to overcome difficult circumstances, Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “I’m so grateful that the Atonement, in addition to overcoming death and in addition to overcoming sin through repentance, overcomes all those things that seem unfair in life. I’m grateful that this program is one of the ways that we can partake of the Atonement. …”3
To help our students press on despite their difficulties, we have implemented monthly devotionals to increase students’ faith, motivate them to live the gospel, and help them persist toward their goals. We are also piloting a mentoring program that led to retaining 1,200 students so far. Additionally, we are redesigning the PathwayConnect curriculum, which will better prepare students for further education and future employment. The new curriculum will help students develop life skills, professional skills, and university skills, and seamlessly transition them between PathwayConnect and online certificate and degree programs.
In order to strengthen the employability of our students, significant work has also gone into creating a new online certificate and degree structure, which will take effect this spring. Each program has been thoroughly evaluated to be uniform across the board, stackable, and highly employable. As a result, 13 new job-ready certificates (for a total of 28 certificates) have been created, which will feed into more focused and marketable associate and bachelor’s degrees.
This is indeed a “monumental moment,” not only for BYU-Pathway Worldwide, but for Church education. All of us feel privileged to be a part of it. Elder Kim B. Clark said, “It is a miracle that we can say today that BYU-Pathway is a school in Zion, wherever Zion is.”4 I am grateful that the Lord has directed a school to be established in Zion to bless His children as they build His kingdom and prepare for His Son’s Second Coming. I thank everyone contributing to this great effort in BYU-Pathway.
All my best,
CLARK G. GILBERT
President of BYU-Pathway Worldwide
- ^ “BYU-Pathway Worldwide: A School in Zion,” BYU-Pathway Worldwide President’s Dinner (Oct. 11, 2018)
- ^ Indicators of Higher Education in the United States (2016), 65, pellinstitute.org
- ^ “Special Broadcast with Elder Holland” (BYU-Pathway Worldwide broadcast, Nov. 1, 2018), pathwaynewsroom.org/worldwide-broadcast
- ^ IBID