October 21, 2020
Gene Hayes, BYU-Pathway’s international area director, grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was raised by his mother and grandmother. “My mother is the greatest individual I know,” he said. “She’s strong in the gospel, hardworking, wise, and loving. I came from a very good family.”
After graduating from Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), Gene met a beautiful Puerto Rican woman named Beverly and started a good family of his own! Together, they have raised five children. Their calendar over the past few years has been filled with graduations, a wedding, and mission farewells and homecomings. Gene’s calendar also often features a scheduled game of squash, which he passionately describes as being the “single greatest sport on earth.”
If you were to sit down to have a conversation with Gene, you would probably get the chance to hear about his many experiences traveling the world. “I like cultures, I like languages, I like to see the good in different people and cultures,” he said. “I think traveling really teaches you more than almost anything in life.”
Traveling would be a key part of Gene’s preparation to eventually work with BYU-Pathway Worldwide, along with a plethora of other experiences. Receiving an MBA from BYU, teaching online graduate e-business classes for the University of Phoenix, and working as an international director for the Apollo Education Group are just a few examples of the rich experiences Gene has enjoyed in his career.
Every opportunity led to another, until eventually Gene found himself looking at a job posting for a BYU-Pathway international area director.
“I really could say without a doubt that I met every single requirement,” he said. It was the perfect opportunity to combine all his experience and passion for helping provide education.
Gene discussed the opportunity with his wife and decided to apply. He was offered the job, and he and his family moved to Rexburg, Idaho, in 2010. Gene is still passionately working in the position 10 years later, but he and his family have since relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah.
As international area director, Gene is primarily responsible for managing BYU-Pathway’s team of international area managers, who oversee the organization’s operations throughout the world. He also works with local Church and government leaders worldwide to establish PathwayConnect and tuition rates in different countries.
For Gene, the most rewarding part of his job is “seeing how education and the gospel change lives.” Over his many years with BYU-Pathway, he has seen many students in challenging circumstances improve their lives through hard work and education.
“Education is an investment,” Gene said. “It’s hard, but it’s a sure investment. It always pays off … not only because it’ll give you a better job, but because it changes who you are. It changes how you view problems. It changes how you can serve others.”
Gene’s advice to students is, “Keep at it! Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf says, ‘For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea — it’s a commandment.’1 The commandments are tied to blessings, so don’t take the easy way out. Even if it takes you longer than you want or anticipate, keep at it. Don’t give up.”