Continue his education or accept a mission call was the decision Winston had to make.
A Message from President Clark G. Gilbert
In a worldwide broadcast to BYU-Pathway students in 2018, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “We’re part of a monumental moment in Church education in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is one of those pivotal marks in our history that we won’t fully understand until we look back at it years and maybe decades from now” (byupw.org/speech/special-broadcast).
There are likely many reasons Elder Holland made this statement. Part of the impact of BYU-Pathway is how it is developing leadership throughout the Church. Students who participate in BYU-Pathway’s programs are better prepared temporally and spiritually to serve in the Church. Another impact of BYU-Pathway is how it is creating a Zion-like culture as many more students have the opportunity to access higher education. In 3 Nephi 6:12 we read, “And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning.” Through BYU-Pathway, “chances for learning” are increasing in unprecedented ways across the entire Church.
Many of us know someone—a family member, friend, or ward member—whose life situation would improve by receiving additional education, but because of financial reasons or a lack of confidence, they remain stuck where they are. More than half of Church members in the United States do not have a college degree, and we estimate that number jumps to more than 85 percent for the international Church.
We often refer to this group as “the hidden many.” They represent millions of Church members. Many of them believe that a university education is not for them, and many are struggling to progress—both spiritually and temporally. BYU-Pathway was created to specifically serve this group.
BYU-Pathway focuses on providing access to affordable education. We also work to give students the tools and confidence they need to complete a degree. Students start by earning job-ready certificates that stack into a high-quality, marketable bachelor’s degree. After earning their first certificate, 72 percent of BYU-Pathway students seeking better employment report immediate job improvement. What’s more, students who complete a certificate are significantly more likely to continue toward a bachelor’s degree.
In order to reach the hidden many, BYU-Pathway must be embedded in the Church’s structure. Last year the Church Board of Education and the Missionary Department approved a letter to be sent to every missionary, preapproving them to study in BYU-Pathway. This, along with generous donations to a returned missionary scholarship fund, has led to a dramatic increase in returned missionary enrollments in BYU-Pathway.
BYU-Pathway also works closely with our partners in Welfare and Self-Reliance, Seminaries and Institutes, the Missionary Department, BYU-Idaho, and the rest of the Church Educational System. In 2019 we served more than 44,000 students. And while that is a staggering number of people, I believe it’s not even the start of where we will go. By serving the hidden many and by operating everywhere the Church is organized, BYU-Pathway will continue to fill the entire Church.
Brothers and sisters, I am grateful for you and your willingness to support BYU-Pathway students. Through your support, we are providing access to affordable, highly impactful education for every member of the Church. More important, we are providing hope and opportunities to those who have never believed an education was possible for them. Thank you for the impact you are making, and thank you for being part of this important moment in Church education.