March 31, 2022
“We believe in the divine potential of all of God’s children and in our ability to become something more in Christ,”1 said Elder Clark G. Gilbert, the Commissioner of the Church Educational System. BYU-Pathway Worldwide similarly seeks to develop disciples of Jesus Christ and to help students learn the self-reliance they need to “become something more.”
Most BYU-Pathway students do not follow the typical starting path to education. Patrick Antwi, CJ Patracone, and Ann Peterson, for example, learned how to overcome the challenges they felt trapped in and improved their lives through BYU-Pathway.
Growing up in Ghana, Patrick not only lost his mom but also his aunt who had been taking care of him. Although Patrick found a way to finance secondary school and serve a mission, he thought, “How will I continue my education? Who is going to help me? Because the people that helped me complete school are no longer in my life.”2
Several thousand miles away in Texas, USA, CJ hit a roadblock in his career when he realized he couldn’t progress unless he got a degree. When the missionaries told him about BYU-Pathway, he knew it was his chance. But although he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, CJ hadn’t attended church in a while and was hesitant about the religious aspect of the courses.
Then in Utah, USA, Ann struggled to find the support she needed to continue on to college. On two separate occasions, she was told, “maybe you just aren’t college material,” and later by a college professor, “maybe you shouldn’t be here.” Doubtful and heartbroken, it took Ann over 17 years to summon the courage to look into returning to school.
Analogy of the slope
In the October 2021 General Conference, Elder Gilbert addressed challenging starting situations, like the ones Patrick, CJ, and Ann have experienced. Using a basic graph, Elder Gilbert explained how the y-intercept, or a point on a vertical axis, could represent someone’s starting point in life. Some people are born into favorable circumstances, whereas others’ may be more difficult. This is certainly true within BYU-Pathway, which serves students in 160 diverse countries.
Elder Gilbert said, “We all have different intercepts in life — we start in different places with different life endowments. … Our future will be determined far less by our starting point and much more by our slope.”3
Lifting their slope with BYU-Pathway
Students lift their slope by following the Savior, which is not limited only to the spiritual possibilities of what they can achieve; remaining focused on the Savior will also bless their education, career, financial, and relationship goals.
BYU-Pathway maximizes these blessings by pairing traditional academic courses with gospel principles and institute. By learning how to apply the gospel at work, in the home, and in the community, students discover how lifting their slope toward heaven is related — not separate — from other aspects of life. Pointing their slope toward Christ is not a competing priority; it influences and benefits all other areas of their lives.
Finding a way out and a way up
Patrick, CJ, and Ann were able to discover this as they began to lift their slopes through BYU-Pathway. Despite his challenges, Patrick focused on directing his life upward. When a friend invited Patrick to join BYU-Pathway, he jumped at the opportunity and is currently pursuing a degree in applied business management.
Reflecting on this experience, he said, “I can say with certainty that, besides making the decision to go and serve the Lord for two years of my life, enrolling in BYU-Pathway is the second-best decision of my life.”4
While improving his education and career simultaneously, Patrick has realized the blessings that come as he lifts his slope to God: “[The Savior] repaired my broken heart. He brought happiness into my heart and peace and took away my burdens.”5
“The Savior repaired my broken heart.”
Despite CJ’s hesitations about spiritually based education, he was intrigued by the flexibility and affordability of BYU-Pathway and decided to apply. At his first gathering, CJ felt comfortable being open with the other students. “I’m not normally like that …,” he said. “I just felt comfortable telling [them] where I was in my relationship with God.”6
Because of the spirit he felt in the gatherings and the things he was learning in his courses, CJ gradually began to pray more often and eventually returned to church too.
CJ, who is currently pursuing a degree in applied technology, said, “I will not quit this time. I’ve tried too many times to go to college to give up, and it’s more exciting that I’ve gotten further in this little bit of time than in 20 years [with God’s help].”
And confronting her past with education, after Ann’s husband mentioned BYU-Pathway, she looked into it and decided to enroll and was surprised at how much she enjoyed her first year, especially the support she received from her gathering group. She even enjoyed her classes so much she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree from BYU-Idaho, supported by BYU-Pathway.
But her challenges weren’t over yet. She said, “My first semester at BYU-Idaho brought a math class…. One day, I tried to create a formula in Excel but couldn’t figure it out. I reached out to my class peers, my old gathering group, my husband, [and] my sister,” but no one answered. Determined to not let her doubt control her, Ann continued to work the problem. It took awhile, but she did it! “I burst into tears, knelt [down], and thanked Heavenly Father.”
Still working toward her bachelor’s degree, Ann gained the confidence to achieve her goals because she lifted her slope toward the Savior.
Like many BYU-Pathway students around the world, Patrick, CJ, and Ann all faced challenges as they sought to improve their lives. But rather than allowing their circumstances to define their potential, they found a way to lift their slope toward Christ through BYU-Pathway.