June 17, 2019
A much-needed support system
Research shows that students who have a solid support system in their life excel in their studies more than those who don’t.1 Students are even more likely to succeed in their studies when they find support within the classroom, such as a friend, a supportive teacher, and so on.
Sister Sharon Eubank said in a recent BYU-Pathway Worldwide devotional, “Friends make a huge difference in our confidence. BYU-Pathway is part of the great gathering that is happening in our time. It connects people from many different places around the world to education, progress, and the blessings of the gospel.”2
This is the story of James and Martin, who despite their different locations, cultures, and ages, formed a lasting friendship through BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
Before he had ever heard of BYU-Pathway, James Clarke started working toward his degree at a local college in his home state of Utah. But when he and his family were involved in a serious car accident, he decided to put his education on hold.
“It was at that point I decided I wanted to focus on watching my kids growing up. Now I think it was just an excuse to quit college,” James said. For years, returning to college was never on his radar. But when he heard about BYU-Pathway Worldwide, he felt it was time to finish his education.
Friends make a huge difference in our confidence. BYU-Pathway … connects people from many different places around the world to education, progress, and the blessings of the gospel.
During this same time, but across the world in Uruguay, Martin Cornelli had a passion for programming but didn’t know where to study it. He had served a full-time mission in Argentina and now had a family to provide for but wasn’t sure where to start.
Martin said, “I didn’t know what to do to be honest — I was out of ideas. But I did notice that I liked technology, even though I had tried programming and it seemed hard to me. It was still what I liked, so I had to give it another try.”
Just a few short years later, an opportunity presented itself to Martin: “A member of the Church told me about studying software engineering [at BYU-Pathway], along with certificates that I could earn in a short time. So I was like, I gotta try that!” And he did!
The beginning of a friendship
Though they lived 6,000 miles apart, BYU-Pathway Worldwide sparked a new friendship between James and Martin. They were both studying programming online through BYU-Idaho, with certificates and degrees presented and coordinated through BYU-Pathway, after completing the one-year PathwayConnect program.
“We were assigned together for a group project, and it just started from there,” Martin said. But group partners weren’t all these two would wind up becoming. “Through WhatsApp, we started talking about schoolwork, but then we also started talking about everything and became good friends. James was a great support and helped me to keep going when things were hard.”
Their friendship grew and not only brought joy to their lives, but also to their schooling. They even began taking the same class schedule each semester so they could continue to help each other with their courses.
Problems and solutions
James and Martin would talk over the phone about assignments and figure them out together. When one had a question, the other would reach out and ask for help. James said, “If we had a problem we couldn’t solve, but we pushed each other enough, eventually one of us would find the answer.”
When neither of them could find an answer, they would turn to Heavenly Father for guidance. Martin suggested they pray before every meeting to invite the Spirit, and immediately they were given the help they asked for.
Martin said, “God is the greatest programmer of them all! It strengthened my testimony. There was power in the course itself, aside from the academic program. It was a spiritual power.”
James also felt the power that came from his classes. He said, “I love the program; it has been such an amazing thing to be a part of. My certificates gave me the confidence to perform specific programming skills I needed in my work and keep me motivated to continue my efforts to the next level.”
Having a classmate as your support system in higher education can make all the difference in earning your degree. Martin shared, “[Our friendship has] made this experience so much richer while we both complete our education. I couldn’t have done it without James’s help, and of course, with God’s help.” Without BYU-Pathway Worldwide, James and Martin never would have had the chance to meet from halfway across the world and forge a lifelong friendship.
Do you have any friends or family members who could join you on your journey of higher education? Share this article with at least one friend, and invite them to participate in courses next semester!