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December 2, 2019

Trial and Triumph

BYU-Pathway Worldwide was an answer to Valeria's prayers

A great start

Valeria Hawkes

Valeria Hawkes grew up in Manaus, Brazil, with her parents and two siblings. She always valued education and was taught by her parents to love learning. “My parents are great examples to me,” she said. “She knew how to sew, sculpt, paint, and draw. My dad is a genius with math, that’s kind of his thing.” 

Valeria’s parents always encouraged their children to be the best that they could be and to learn as much as they could. Valeria knew that she would have their support in any endeavor.

Trials and stepping stones

When she turned 19, Valeria decided to serve a mission and was called to Boston, Massachusetts. After six months as a missionary, Valeria got very sick. She didn’t tell anyone that she was sick because she didn’t want to have to return home early. 15 months into her mission, her mission nurse demanded that she tell her mission president just how sick she was. 

Shortly after, Valeria was sent home, confirming her fear of returning early. She had served diligently even with a very difficult trial, but all of a sudden had less than a week to inform her parents, pack her things, and return home. 

Valeria with her younger sister and her father

Perfect timing

When Valeria arrived home, she learned that her parents and sister had all started PathwayConnect, and she had arrived just in time to start the semester with them. She’d been accepted to a college in Rio but was too sick to live there on her own, so she was excited that PathwayConnect could be another option for her to move forward.

When Valeria started the program, it was even better than she expected. The courses taught her to be self-reliant, which changed her life. The culture in Brazil is to live with your parents until you’re married. The idea of moving out at a younger age was new to Valeria, but she felt inspired to do it. After the first year in PathwayConnect and when she recovered from her illness, she decided to move to Rexburg, Idaho, to study at BYU-Idaho.

Valeria had attended some college before her mission but enjoyed BYU-Pathway Worldwide so much. She said, “I wasn’t just learning secular stuff. I was learning about the gospel. I was learning about life and things that I will use everywhere.” 

Valeria with her mother and her sister

A new home with new opportunities

Now, Valeria and her sister are both students at BYU-Idaho, and Valeria is studying communication. “I just love it. I absolutely love it!” she said. “I’m here because of BYU-Pathway — I have no questions about that. It’s definitely what gave me the courage, knowing that I’d finished and that I could go to college in the United States.”

At a family home evening activity in college, Valeria met her husband, Brennen. If she hadn’t started BYU-Pathway, she wouldn’t have met him. “It was perfect timing. We’re going to have a family someday. It’s just one thing that led to another — it’s God’s perfect plan that I just didn’t know at the time.”

For Valeria, getting sick on her mission was a terrible trial. At the time, she couldn’t understand why she had to leave her mission early, and she didn’t know what would happen next. BYU-Pathway changed her life. “Now I can say it was a miracle for me to participate in BYU-Pathway,” she said, “and a miracle for everything that happened after.”

Worth it

Valeria knows how difficult it is to achieve higher education and understands that students can get discouraged. She encourages students to focus on “having a goal in mind, knowing that in the end, you’re going to get so much more just for finishing.”

Valeria and her husband, Brennen Hawkes

She continued, “Its a program inspired by God — I have no questions about that. So if God gave you a one-year program that’s going to bless the rest of your life, just remember that it might be hard, but it’s going to bless the rest of your life. You cannot go wrong by finishing it, and you cannot go wrong by participating. It’s an investment for the rest of your life. …Every time someone asks me about BYU-Pathway, all I say is, ‘Do it!'”

The blessings and miracles continue

Valeria was hired as a social media intern at BYU-Pathway Worldwide headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, in September 2019. “It’s another way that I’m being blessed,” she said. “I’m telling you, there are so many miracles one after another, and I link it all back to BYU-Pathway. God is really good.”

What miracles and blessings have you seen on your journey? Share in the comments below!

Comments on "Trial and Triumph"

Walter Wisdom says:

when i pass through difficulties and challenges/adversaries, i always come out a better person…

Patrick, Uganda says:

Great insights here from all of you wonderful Saints!

I love Pathway, I love the Church, I love the Lord. He indeed loves and knows the needs of each one of us.

This is the way to go. Let’s do it!

I’m in for the 2nd second semester and I can’t wait to have fun :).

God bless you all and your families.

Merry Christmas!

Lauren Conrad says:

Thank you, Patrick! Best of luck in your second semester, and Merry Christmas to you as well!

Dunamis Gospel says:

Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you too, Patrick. I love ❤️ your zeal to push it over; keep on pushing it till you get through to the edge of the tunnel. God will supply all our needs according to His richness and glory. Enjoy as you recharge yourself for the upcoming course PC102.

Melissa Anderson says:

Thank you Valerie for sharing your testimony and story on your path toward an education with BYU-Pathway. Congratulations on completing it and landing a job doing something you enjoy doing. My oldest is a missionary in Brazil serving near Belo Horizonté. He’s loving the people, food, and sharing the gospel. I’m in my first semester and I’ve had amazing opportunities to teach others and study the gospel more in depth. I’m excited to continue my education and be a good example to my family.

Aristidis .M.M Kahunla says:

Wow!!! I enjoyed reading the experience of Valerie and her testimony. Though she did not complete her mission, she ended up learning both temporal and spiritual education. She learned to be a happy young lady with a better future. I have come to the end of my second semester. PathwayConnect is much better and affordable, is rich in content, and is detailed. All I want to say is I am acquiring both the things of God and the secular, which will make me become self-reliant. In my second semester, I have learned to be a provident provider by living within my means by proper budgeting. I have learned to be wise in spending with the knowledge of putting God first. Pathway is helping me to gain intelligence on this earth and hereafter. I know whatever principle of intelligence I attain on this Earth shall rise with me.

My prayer is answered through PathwayConnect. I was longing to enroll in university, and now it is at my doorstep. I am going to make use of this blessing.

Aristidis .M.M Kahunla says:

Hello Valerie, your experience and testimony is giving so many hope to continue on this path. Your experience has woken up the weak, especially some of us that think all is lost and no one cares about us. There are so many ways to serve others. A full-time mission is just one way among the many. I can invite a non-member to learn about God and secular things.

Lauren Conrad says:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Aristidis! Congratulations on completing your second semester and learning so many wonderful things.

Maria das Gra;as Peregrino de Sousa says:

Hi Valeria, thank you for your example. I’m Brazilian too. I live in Natal-RN. Being enrolled on the way has been very difficult for me due to my work and other activities, but your words give me the courage to continue.

Peniel Ernest says:

I used to feel very discouraged whenever it comes to schooling, to the point that I feel like school will never be my “thing,” but seeing stories like this will really help people like us. It was very hard for me to finish high school and my diploma. Please help me with prayers and all the help you can offer as I begin 6th Jan. 2020. Thank you very much Valeria.

Emissah Janet says:

Hello, Valeria Hawkes. I would like to be your friend. Thank you for your inspired testimony, I will continue to pray for God to grant me knowledge and understanding in learning.

Thoko says:

Valerie, right now I have splitting headache because I have been trying to figure out variables all last night, and you don’t know what your testimony has just done for me. I really needed this encouragement today. Thank you so much for your courage to overcome. If I had any thoughts of quitting pathway, they are all gone thanks to you. Keep being a shining light to those around you!

Dunamis Gospel says:

Thoko, variables are one of the topics in sum calculation that are very tactical and at the same time very interesting, if only you are following the front end mode when calculating it. You just need to be set up, and when you do, definitely all of us will share in your testimony on this compass. I am proud to have made such an amazing decision. I am inspired.

Valeria Hawkes says:


Thank you for your kind words. You blessed my day with it! The Lord has so much in store for you. You can do hard things! This program will bless the rest of your life if you just keep going and keep enduring. The outcome is greater than math knowledge, trust me. I am proud of you for what you’ve done already. Good luck with your endeavors!

Hi Valeria! I met your parents while they were presiding over a mission here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They were a great example for me.

Indeed, I can imagine how much you have struggled to reach your goals. Thank you for sharing what you have learned along the journey.

In 2015, when my wife and I heard about Pathway, we decided to participate. We had to travel for 3-4 hours just to meet with our classmates every week. It was really worthwhile. Now, our children are doing Pathway 100% online.

I am 50 years old, and please believe me: THE BEST IS YET TO COME! 😉

Valeria Hawkes says:


Thank you for your words of hope! You’re an example to your family and those around you. Rio is a sacred place to our family. 🙂

Ozimy Edward says:

I enjoyed reading through your testimony. I am currently enrolled in PathwayConnect. I love it so much and it has brought great blessings to me and my family. Your story was as comforting sweet music to my soul. I am inspired and uplifted by your great example and diligent work. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of Trial and Triumph!

Valeria Hawkes says:


Thank you for your kind and sweet words. Sometimes is hard to see what’s ahead of us, but if you could go to the future and see the blessings Heavenly Father has prepared for you because of BYU-Pathway, trust me, you would do it all again. Good luck!

Dunamis Gospel says:

Its a great one indeed, the only time one can fail is when one stop trying, it a great encouragement to learn from Valeria Testimony, indeed pathway connect worldwide has really been a source of strength and blessing to so many souls all over the world, indeed I am a part of this testimony. Thanks to pathway connect worldwide. Dunamis

Valeria Hawkes says:


Thank you for your testimony. I’m glad you’re doing well because of BYU-Pathway Worldwide.

Brittany Gotberg says:

This past year has been the hardest and yet best year of my life. Because of the Pathway program, I have started to believe in myself. I’m now active in church again and I have been sealed to my husband. I never thought that I would change so much in a year. I now know what I will be doing for the rest of my life. I know that no matter what might come, I can do it! After the first month I wanted to quit, but my between my husband and my family, I decided that I would not and I continued on. It was the smartest decision of my life!

Lauren Conrad says:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Brittany! I’m glad your hard work and perseverance are paying off. Making positive changes can be hard, but so rewarding!

Valeria Hawkes says:


I hear your testimony and I feel the Spirit. What a great blessing! I am grateful for this program and for the blessings we receive for doing it. I’m glad it blessed your life, now I am sure you’re blessing the lives of many!

Samuel Kanu says:

I like this testimony. Thank you, Valeria, for letting me know the importance of attending BYU. I also like learning. And I will continue to learn even if I meet my partner and get married. Your message just makes me feel happy to continue with BYU.

Valeria Hawkes says:


That’s a great goal! Education opens doors and brings blessings to our lives. You got this!

clement says:

I’m inspired.

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