March 15, 2021
“You’re the one,” the job interviewer told him. At that moment, Kevin Barros del Duca became the newest technology teacher at a local private school in Colombia. His friend had told him that the school was looking for a teacher who was fluent in English, and Kevin’s confident response — “Okay, I can do it” — paved his way through the interview.
Discovering talents through service
Kevin first began practicing English for fun with mission companions during his full-time mission in Argentina. After returning home, he saw how the private school that employed him valued his English skills, even while he just worked as a technology teacher. Kevin also quickly realized how much he enjoyed teaching. He had recently completed BYU‑Pathway Worldwide’s foundational courses, PathwayConnect, and was serving again as a volunteer missionary to help other students complete the courses. “I love helping others learn and have fun at the same time,” Kevin said. “I love to see that process.”
This newfound passion for teaching encouraged Kevin to continue pursuing his degree. In BYU‑Pathway’s model, a bachelor’s degree is built by stacking together three marketable certificates and an associate degree that can lead to improved employment long before a student completes their full degree program.
Finding the perfect certificate
As Kevin considered his certificate options, he wanted to pick one that could help him improve his teaching skills. So he selected the Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, commonly known as TEFL (or TESOL) — the perfect fit for an aspiring teacher. It was also a great way to help others receive the same blessings he had experienced from being fluent in English.
Soon after beginning his certificate courses, the school Kevin worked at offered him an improved position as a language teacher. “I started studying to know how to teach a second language and, at that very moment, I got a job to work as a [language] teacher,” Kevin said. “I was working at a real job, applying what I was learning.”
Earning course credits while simultaneously working as a teacher was valuable, but it was only the beginning of the blessings from his certificate. Kevin saw an immediate increase in pay after completing his certificate, as well as new opportunities to teach. He felt especially grateful that he was able to receive the blessings of higher education without having to pay a large amount of money.
“If you want to study TEFL here in Colombia, you will pay a lot of money,” Kevin explained. “I didn’t even have to pay half of what I need to pay here to get a TEFL certification through BYU‑Pathway.”
Exercising faith greater than challenges
Kevin’s experience with certificates and as a service missionary gave him valuable skills and helped him understand students’ experiences better. Kevin knows firsthand the challenges of learning another language. As a native-Spanish speaker, he often felt intimidated or inadequate as he first practiced his English language skills. However, Kevin saw his efforts pay off, and now he can testify that learning another language is possible!
“Don’t worry about your accent or about your culture,” Kevin advised students learning a new language. “Just trust yourself, trust God, and you will get it.”
Taking things one step at a time helped Kevin identify the Lord’s hand in his education. Each step in faith opened a new opportunity. Since earning his TEFL certificate, Kevin has identified an interest in teaching science and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied health from BYU‑Idaho, supported by BYU‑Pathway. Additionally, he is working on receiving a degree in microbiology from a school in Colombia. Juggling work, multiple courses, friends, and family often feels like too much to handle, but Kevin is a firm believer in taking steps toward higher education — no matter the challenge. “Go ahead. Do it,” he encourages. “There will be help if you keep walking.”
Article contributor: Kayloa Gurr