As I joined my classmates for our final Thursday night gathering I found it hard to believe that this stretch of road has come to a close. For the last year my Thursday nights have been spent with this group of people as we have navigated our way through three semesters of schooling. I joined Pathway for the purpose of beginning my journey toward earning my Bachelor’s degree. I knew it was a smart decision and that by choosing this path I would be able to earn a degree in an affordable way that works for my family. I had no idea that this journey would end up being so much more than that.
This past year has been life changing for me as I have experienced exponential growth in a myriad of areas. Much of that growth I attribute to my Pathway experience. It wasn’t an easy journey, especially in the midst of an especially challenging year. Trying to consistently carve out the hours necessary each week to complete the readings and assignments required for the classes I was taking could be challenging, but I was always able to get the work done and I know that it was thanks to Heavenly Father’s hand in this experience. He is the one that called me to it and He is the one who walked me through it.
The prompting to sign up with the Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho began early last summer. At the time we were on a path that seemed to be leading us to add another child to our home…and a 17-year-old boy at that. Anticipating and bracing myself for the challenges that would come with that life change, I was surprised when God started whispering that after 21 years of being a full time wife and momma, it was time to go back to school and get my degree in preparation for the future plans He has for my life. On paper it made no sense to begin this now, when life was so complicated and so full, but the more I questioned the timing the more the Spirit testified of its accuracy. I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first semester of school in two decades. My hope was that my years of homeschooling helped prepare me for this next big challenge and that teaching my children helped keep those concepts fresh that I would need for my own academic success.
In September of last year I showed up at my first Pathway Connect gathering with 15 other students from the Pittsburgh area. At that first gathering we were told that while strangers now, by the end of the year we would be more like family. I had no idea how true that would be. We gathered every Thursday evening for a year, learning together, sharing our lives, teaching one another, learning from each other’s example, laughing and sometimes crying our way through the challenges of the Pathway experience. And as a result of those Thursday nights I gained a second family whom I’ve came to love dearly.
For this reason I found myself struggling with a wide mix of emotions on Thursday night. It was our final Pathway Gathering and graduation night, and as much as I’m looking forward to a break from daily schoolwork, studying and assignments, I will miss seeing my Pathway family every Thursday night and the special spirit that accompanied this experience.
This Thursday’s gathering deviated from “typical,” as it was our graduation night. Because of this, we were encouraged to invite our families to come out and celebrate as we crossed the finish line of Pathway. I was blessed to have Toby, Tyler, Molly, Grace, and my soon-to-be son in law, Zach join me. (Rusty and Braden had to work)
The turn out by all those who came out to celebrate this special occasion was touching.
The agenda for the night began with a shortened version of our usual classes. I was the lead teacher this week for our religion class and kicked off the night with a discussion about our final project for class.
Then we had a 15 minute discussion to fulfill our Pathway Gathering requirement for English class, before moving on to our graduation ceremony.
We were each presented with our Pathway Connect certificate,
And had the opportunity at the end to share some thoughts about our experience with Pathway.
It was with tears in our eyes and conviction in our words that my classmates and I shared our testimonies of the divinely inspired and divinely developed Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho.
The night ended with treats and a celebratory party with our friends and family.
It was an amazing ride with amazing people. I am forever grateful God called me to walk this road at this time. It was life-changing and testimony building. I said “yes” to this path expecting to grow, expecting to learn, expecting to work towards my degree…
But never expected that the greatest change in my life would be the conversion that would occur within.
This fall my educational journey will continue as I begin taking degree-specific classes online through BYU-Idaho (the same school Molly will be attending in person this fall). Onto the next phase of this exciting adventure!