March 12, 2020
In 2005, Kim B. Clark took the reins as president of BYU-Idaho just five years after it became a four-year university. In his inaugural address, he spoke of three imperatives that would bless the school, one of which would be to make higher education available to many more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — including those beyond the Rexburg, Idaho, campus.
“I see little girls and boys sitting in Primary classes in this country and, indeed, all over the world,” President Clark said. “These children will make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord. I believe the Lord desires to bless them and, like the army of Helaman, raise them up as a righteous generation of disciple leaders all across the earth. …[M]ost of these young people will never come to BYU-Idaho. But they will be blessed by what we learn here about learning by faith and delivering a high-quality education at relatively low cost.”1
Just four short years later in 2009, his vision became a reality with the pilot of the Pathway program. Fifty young adults gathered in three U.S. cities, taking BYU-Idaho courses — online — and at a significantly reduced cost from campus tuition prices. And now, 10 years later, the little boys and girls President Clark foresaw are college age, enrolled in BYU-Pathway’s programs, all over the world.
When President Clark first shared his vision of Primary children, Juliet Deletsu, who was just eight years old at the time, was not sitting in a Primary class — not yet, anyway.
Missionaries visited her aunt’s house in Ghana. For years, Juliet attended church with friends, was baptized as a teenager, served a mission, and then immediately enrolled in PathwayConnect upon returning home.
“I always say BYU-Pathway is a God-sent gift to answer my prayers after my mission,” Juliet said. “It is really helping me know what to do in the future to become self-reliant. I am getting a high-quality education with a low cost, which I never thought would happen any time soon.”
Juliet will complete PathwayConnect this year and currently serves in a Relief Society presidency and as a self-reliance specialist in her branch in Ghana. Having the opportunity to receive a gospel-centered education in her own country has strengthened her faith that Heavenly Father has a plan for her.
“The Lord is mindful of all His children. And He has plans for me.”
In the Philippines, 26-year-old Rey De Guzman was experiencing health challenges and family problems that prevented him from working or physically attending school. In early 2019, he searched for “online education” on the internet and found BYU-Pathway. He knew nothing about the Church, but he thought PathwayConnect looked convenient and affordable.
As Rey participated in PathwayConnect, he also learned more about the gospel. He met with the full-time missionaries and decided to get baptized.
“PathwayConnect is a really great experience for me,” Rey said. “It has lifted me from a downward spiral. It opened the gate for me to excel, little by little. I have a pathway for improvement in life.”
Now in his final semester of PathwayConnect, Rey has started his first certificate in computer programming. He plans to complete a BYU-Idaho online degree in applied technology. Rey hopes that his education and career improvement will enable him to support his daughter and teach her the gospel.
“I’ve realized that even [before I was baptized],” he said, “I had the prompting that education was what I should do to pursue growth.”
Disciple leaders all across the earth
Reflecting on the impact of BYU-Pathway in 2018, Kim B. Clark, then the commissioner of the Church Educational System, said, “We live in a day of miracles…. I believe BYU-Pathway is one of those miracles. It has a role to play in strengthening the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion.”2
The increased faith and testimonies of BYU-Pathway students regularly strengthen the families, stakes, wards, and branches of the Church. Juliet and Rey are just two examples of the many righteous individuals hoping for an education and yearning to know God’s plan for them. Like President Clark foresaw in 2005, a BYU-Pathway education has been and will continue to be a gateway for Heavenly Father’s children all over the earth to make and keep sacred covenants with Him.