October 11, 2021
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to fluctuate across the globe, its effects continue to impact people everywhere. This time in the world’s history has brought significant challenges; but for many BYU-Pathway Worldwide students like Marcus Blanc and Elizabeth Meeks, the pandemic also provided significant blessings through online higher education.
Marcus Blanc from Haiti heard about BYU-Pathway from one of his best friends and church mentors. During the last month of his full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he enrolled and started right after he returned home in April 2020.
“Starting BYU-Pathway wasn’t easy for me, I didn’t know too much about it, and I was fresh back from the mission and also in the challenging pandemic period. I encountered so many difficulties and great challenges but — with grace and blessings of the Lord, as well as the assistance of the Holy Ghost — I ended up overcoming those challenges and accomplished this journey.”
After completing BYU-Pathway’s foundational courses (called PathwayConnect), Marcus continued on to pursue a bachelor’s degree online in applied technology from BYU-Idaho, supported by BYU-Pathway. He plans to complete his first certificate in web and computer programming in December 2021.
“It’s a great blessing to be a BYU-Pathway student,” he said. “I recommend it to everyone who wishes to experiment with an online program.”
Finding friendship and support
The pandemic hit right after Elizabeth Meeks, from Arizona, USA, enrolled in BYU-Pathway to pursue a career change and become a marriage and family counselor. When Elizabeth contracted a particularly bad case of COVID-19, she said the people in her weekly gathering group were essential to her recovery.
“Having the connection to a group of people in my gathering, and also the people in my classes from around the world, gave me the support and connection I needed and was a blessing during what could have been such a lonely and painful time.”
Getting through assignments for her marriage, family, and human relations certificate was sometimes difficult for Elizabeth, but when she looked to the Lord for help, she was able to receive the motivation she needed to complete them.
She said, “I experienced what they call ‘COVID brain fog,’1 and yet I would pray to be able to understand what I was studying. I would do the work, and I feel at times like angels were guiding my hands to type what I needed to type.”
Finding the silver linings
During the pandemic, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have encouraged us to find the “silver linings,” or blessings, that have come into our lives because of COVID-19.
President Russell M. Nelson, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ, gave this invitation: “Let us not just endure this current season. Let us embrace the future with faith! Turbulent times are opportunities for us to thrive spiritually. They are times when our influence can be much more penetrating than in calmer times.”2
What blessings have come into your life because of challenges you’ve experienced?