Pathway Spirit a Plus for Bianka Martinez
by Andrea Bradley
Bianca Martinez participates in a class discussion during the Thursday night “gathering” of Pathway in Monterrey, Mexico. In the gathering, students review homework, prepare for tests, and teach each other.
When 18-year-old Bianka Martinez sat down to take her English proficiency exam as part of her application to Pathway, she expected business as usual. She would be handed material, receive test instructions, and a timer would be set.
Instead, Bianka was pleasantly surprised when Pathway missionary Elder Rodriguez started with a group prayer. Having recently graduated from high school, Bianka was used to saying a personal prayer for strength before an exam. Now she was in a unique classroom environment where fellow classmates joined in prayer to mutually invite the Spirit.
Furthermore, Elder Rodriguez encouraged students to pray during the exam if they needed additional help. He promised their pleas would be heard. Bianka felt empowered. She recalled thinking, “This is the kind of program I want for my life.”
This impression was merely a first glimpse of the enriching environment that Pathway would offer. On one occasion, Bianka fell ill and feared she would miss the regular Thursday gathering where students lead each other and participate in discussion groups. Knowing she needed to keep the gathering a priority, Bianka began her routine one-hour commute via bus, subway, and foot to arrive at the Anahuac Stake Center in Monterrey, Mexico.
When Bianka arrived, Elder Rodriguez could see she was sick and struggling. He offered her a priesthood blessing. Knowing that her leader and classmates could give her a blessing on the spot, in a school setting, was an experience that would leave a lasting impression on her.
Pathway students like Bianca study online at home. Then once a week they gather together for a student-led teaching experience and for an institute of religion class.
“It’s not just the program that helps you,” Bianka said. “It’s the people around you who believe in what you believe. These are the types of classmates I always want to have.”
The Pathway approach to learning English was also a refreshing change. Bianka learned vocabulary, verb agreement, and conjugations through the words of prophets, hymns, and scriptures. This method, coupled with peer teaching and the steadfast support of online instructors and speaking partners, helped land her an impressive job.
Bianka began working four months ago as an English-speaking customer service representative for a telecommunications company. She credits her English fluency to her online instructors in Pathway. “They are available and unconditionally supportive whenever I have a question or concern,” she said.
Bianka also built a strong bond with her first speaking partner, a resident of Boise, Idaho. Speaking partners commit to spending 30 minutes a week talking online to a Pathway student - helping them improve their English skills. That partner is now a close, international friend and the two love to connect and catch up with each other.
Bianca Skypes with a speaking partner from the United States 30 minutes each week. More than 1,500 people volunteer for the speaking partner program to help Pathway students with English as a second language and to exchange cultural ideas.
English aside, the purpose of Pathway in Bianka’s life runs much deeper. “Not only does the program help improve your skills,” she said, “it helps you be more like Jesus Christ. It helps with not only secular matters, but spiritual matters.”
Bianka is an inspiring example of the blessings when one puts one’s life, timing and plans into the Lord’s hands. As someone who had always wanted to serve a church mission, receive a quality education, and have a family, the announcement in 2012 that worthy 19-year-old females could now serve missions was a direct answer to Bianka’s prayer.
“My Heavenly Father has given me everything,” said Bianka. “I asked what I should do, and He helped everything work out in the best way.” she is in her third and final semester as a Pathway student and is currently waiting for her mission call.
After her mission, Bianka plans to pursue an online degree from BYU-Idaho. “I credit so much to being involved with the Pathway program,” she said. “It completely changed my life. I see life differently now. I value things I didn’t value before. I know what will give me the best life possible.”