December 5, 2022
If you told Aaron Eardley two years ago that, by 2022, he would be well on his way to a bachelor’s degree, married to his best friend, and making covenants in the House of the Lord, he never would have believed you. Before Aaron, from Florida, USA, was first introduced to BYU-Pathway Worldwide, he didn’t have a job, was not active in the Church, and was coping with a recent divorce and back injury.
He was at a low point in his life and needed a change. When Aaron decided that higher education was the way to do that, he went for it. But he never expected these four things that he found along the way.
1. Low cost, flexible education
Aaron had never completed university and wanted to try again. He said, “It was the initial desire to finish, the general feeling of wanting to go to college. I wanted to do something to better myself, and I knew getting a degree was going to help.”
Although he didn’t exactly know where to start, Aaron decided to ask his friend Sharline, who had completed BYU-Pathway, for help. “She told me that BYU-Pathway was actually affordable. She let me know it was a legitimate school, I could get a degree, and that this program would get me back in college,” he said. Believing and trusting his friend, Aaron enrolled in BYU-Pathway and loved it!
To his surprise, the course load was manageable and relevant to his life. It helped him gain digital communication skills and confidence in presenting. With the courses being online, he was able to take breaks when he experienced back pain. But what he loved most were the gatherings.
2. A gathering group that loved him
At first, Aaron was nervous to meet his group. He hadn’t been participating in Church for many years and didn’t know how the service missionaries or other students would receive him. But his experience was far different from what he thought. “I didn’t feel like an outcast. I didn’t feel judged, even though I was not active and going through something as ‘taboo’ as divorce. I felt nothing but love and acceptance, and it was a phenomenal feeling.”
Not only did he feel the love from his fellow classmates but also from his service missionaries, Elder and Sister Graham. “They are what made the group what it was. Those missionaries gave us a safe space to be ourselves free of judgment and full of love,” said Aaron.
3. A foundation of faith
By attending BYU-Pathway he knew he would progress in his studies, but he didn’t expect to progress in his faith. “I knew I would have to study religion and scriptures, but I did not expect to feel the Spirit and to become converted myself.”
Aaron started paying tithing, saying prayers, and reading the scriptures. As he looks back now, Aaron realized that God had led him to this point. “I had been feeling the Lord’s hand in my life for a long time, but I didn’t realize it until BYU-Pathway. For years and years, I had been guided, and going through BYU-Pathway made it all click.”
4. To be blessed in every aspect of life
What Aaron least expected when he started his educational journey was to be blessed in every aspect of his life. Now he is working as a business analyst, is married to Sharline (yes, that Sharline!), and, with the support of his gathering group, was able to go through and recover from back surgery while in school.
But where Aaron feels the most blessed is in his newfound relationship with the Savior. Because of that relationship, Aaron was able to go to the temple for the first time, surrounded by his beloved wife and service missionaries. He said, “Because of my temple covenants, I’ve seen a change in myself for the better.”
How has BYU-Pathway blessed your life in unexpected ways? Comment below!