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June 8, 2020

PathwayConnect is Better With a Friend

When disaster hit, Savannah and Ashlynn chose education and friendship over fear

When hardships arise, we may need the help of a friend to guide us to success and help us move forward. Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy said, “All of our interactions are made more enjoyable and productive when they are accompanied by genuine feelings of friendship.”1 Those feelings of friendship encourage us to aim high and reach our goals.

Savannah and Ashlynn — two friends from Gilbert, Arizona — demonstrate how a friendship can bring joy and success. Even when their original plans went awry, their support for each other led them to a brighter future through PathwayConnect.

Savannah: Abrupt Endings

Savannah Goodman preparing to serve in the Florida Orlando Mission

Savannah Goodman served seven wonderful weeks as a full-time missionary in Orlando, Florida, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Unfortunately, her time as a missionary was cut short when the COVID-19 crisis hit the United States. Savannah said, “It was just a lot of shock at once. I got a call from the mission president on a Friday saying we were going home. Then, that next Wednesday, I was already on a plane heading back to Arizona.”

Savannah returned home feeling as if all her plans had fallen apart. That’s when she received an email notifying her that tuition for BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s PathwayConnect program was 25% off for returned missionaries. This seemed like an answer to her prayers. She immediately enrolled in the upcoming semester. Savannah said, “Joining PathwayConnect was a huge blessing. It’s great that I’m not just sitting around doing nothing, and having religion classes really helps me feel near the Spirit.”

Getting started with BYU-Pathway Worldwide has blessed the lives of many returned missionaries. Savannah, like many others, said, “The transition from the mission to normal life is hard.” As returned missionaries begin to focus on education — paired with religious instruction — purpose floods back into their lives.

This difficult transition can also be made easier by inviting a friend to participate too! Not only is this true for returned missionaries, but for all students. Elder Dieter F. Uctdorf said, “[We must] help each other to become the best we can be.”2 We are much more likely to reach success when we have a good friend to be accountable to. Through their encouragement we can achieve our goals.

Savannah is lucky to have the kind of friend who inspires her to be her best; Ashlynn Casselbury had always been a loyal, true friend to Savannah. Because of this, Savannah invited Ashlynn to begin PathwayConnect alongside her.

Ashlynn: The Friend Who Made All the Difference

Ashlynn Casselbury as a senior in high school

Ashlynn had also been suffering due to cancellations related to the COVID-19 global pandemic. She was a senior in high school when schools suddenly shut down for the rest of the year. Ashlynn couldn’t sing in the choir she had been a part of for six years or attend her graduation ceremony.

In this time of disappointment, Savannah excitedly told Ashlynn about PathwayConnect. She said to Ashlynn, “You could do this with me. You want to go to college anyway, and we could help each other!” Ashlynn decided it would be a great idea to get a head start on college and enrolled.

New Beginnings

Having a friend by your side to support you through PathwayConnect makes all the difference. Savannah said, “Ashlynn comes over and we work on homework. It is great! Now, I have a set time to do my classes and I don’t put it off.”

Ashlynn and Savannah plan to continue supporting each other in their educational dreams. Both women will apply to the Disney College Program this August, and they plan on pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Applied Management in the coming years.

Savannah said, “I would like to get a business degree so I can manage my own wedding decorating business!” Ashlynn also has dreams of being a small business owner and setting up her own photography studio.

Savannah and Ashlynn share their love for Disney

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “Actively participating in the opportunities given by the Church will help us be better prepared for life’s changing circumstances.”3 In a world full of unknowns, education prepares us to confront whatever comes our way. The help of a friend in those hard times may also be what we need to continue forward.

BYU-Pathway’s PathwayConnect and online certificate and degree programs are available completely online. Applications for new students are currently open, so invite a friend today!

How have your friends helped you on your educational journey? Share in the comments below!

1 ^ Marlin K. Jensen, “Friendship,” Ensign, Apr. 1999
 2 ^ Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Believe, Love, Do,” Ensign or Liahona, Oct. 2018
 3 ^ Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come and Belong,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2020

Comments on "PathwayConnect is Better With a Friend"

A student in my institute class messaged me at the beginning of my first PC semester. She is from Georgia, the country. I didn’t know where it was either! At first she needed help with the English and then we started studying the scriptures together. It has been so rewarding! She has taught me that late nights and early mornings are sometimes necessary to do a good job on assignments; and to not be afraid of reaching out for help. Her testimony has inspired me to be positive and grateful too.

Lauren Conrad says:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Jenny! It’s really cool that you’ve been able to create a friendship across the world through PathwayConnect, and I’m sure you’ve inspired her as well.

Naaua says:

Thanks for sharing. And I do believe that that as we continue to read our scriptures, we can change ourselves for the better.

James Momo says:

Thanks so much for supporting each other; may the Lord be with you. Also thanks to all who decided one way or the other to be part of this great PathwayConnect.

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