February 8, 2021
In any report about the year 2020, it would make sense to focus on the challenges the world collectively faced. As I reflect on this past year, however, it is the blessings that stand out to me. The Lord has been preparing BYU-Pathway Worldwide for many years to continue to serve and provide hope to His children even in — or especially in — tumultuous times.
The Lord prepares the way. Through instruction to Nephi, the Lord reminds us that He knows the path and will prepare a way for us to move forward: “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you…. [Y]e shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”1 2
I have seen and felt the Lord preparing and guiding BYU-Pathway for 2020 in many ways. Even with the year’s obstacles, BYU-Pathway’s growth continued unabated, serving a record 51,583 students in more than 150 countries. BYU-Pathway, with its low-cost, flexible, online programs, was a compelling resource during a pandemic, allowing people to start or continue their education despite all the commotion going on around them.
More than just a degree. But BYU-Pathway has always had more to offer than well-designed education programs. Getting the gospel of Jesus Christ deep into a student’s heart is critical to what we do. Beyond teaching useful job-ready skills, we help students develop faith that they are children of God with unimpeded access to heaven’s help. That knowledge is essential as students take their first steps on their educational journey, especially when that journey begins in a time of such widespread global uncertainty.
Virtual gatherings. To serve as many members as possible, BYU-Pathway is designed to operate everywhere the Church is organized. After years of piloting, we launched virtual gatherings for BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s PathwayConnect, originally intended to help students who were unable to travel to an in-person location. When the pandemic hit, thanks to robust technical systems and our dedicated team of service missionaries, we were able to seamlessly move all groups to an online-only format.
Returned missionary scholarships. In 2019, BYU-Pathway partnered with the Missionary Department to pre-approve all returning missionaries for admission. In 2020, we strengthened that partnership by offering a 25% tuition discount to all returning missionaries, and returned missionary enrollment in PathwayConnect increased by 78% from the year before. BYU-Pathway became a safe harbor for young missionaries displaced by COVID-19, providing them with a way to keep progressing, both temporally and spiritually.
Forward with faith. When encouraging us to embrace the future with faith, our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, said, “The Lord told us how with simple, but stunning, reassurance: ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’ What a promise! It is one that can literally change the way we see our future.”3 I am grateful that the Lord has been preparing the way for BYU-Pathway to serve and for our students to succeed, even in the most challenging of times. I am excited to see what the future holds.
All my best,
CLARK G. GILBERT
President of BYU-Pathway Worldwide