Finally, the Miracles Mounted
From the time he could thin the radishes, Felix Jimenez’s childhood dream was to attend Brigham Young University. But living on a farm as he did in Cusco, Peru, his prospects were dim.
As a young man and a newly baptized member of the Church in 1992, Felix worked with his siblings to eke out a simple existence on a farm. His father was a model of perseverance, a great teacher of morals and personal values who left an impression on the minds of Felix’s four brothers and two sisters to improve their circumstances by improving their education.
Over the years, Felix watched how his parents sacrificed for the family’s welfare, occupying themselves in a variety of endeavors to pay for food, shelter, and education. Despite their finest efforts, the basics of life were scarce, oftentimes insufficient for the large family.
In the coming years, Felix’s deep-seated sense of perseverance would sustain him in his quest for an advanced education. Overcoming a variety of difficulties and setbacks, Felix graduated from high school and started college. Soon he was married and felt the strain of studying while providing for his family.
To improve his chances of finding gainful employment after college, Felix volunteered at a research center, where he was given the responsibility to manage the laboratories and help train the indigenous farmers in the growing of quinoa and amaranth, which are native to the Andean high plains. He also worked in reforesting programs to increase the growth of trees.
“All these activities I did as a volunteer,” he said. “I always hoped that I could be formally hired and work for any of these institutions - but nothing happened. I graduated from college with a diploma and was recognized as an agricultural engineer. Even with a degree in hand, I was not able to find a job in Peru for two years. Living under these conditions was frustrating. It was hard to accept the reality that there was no opportunity.
“I was desperate and didn’t know what to do,” Felix continued. “In Peru I had no career and no hope of supporting my family. I began to wonder if furthering my education abroad would open doors of opportunity. I counseled with my bishop, who said that whatever I did, I should do with my family.”
With the support of his bishop and family, Felix applied to BYU and was accepted, a blessing that in Peru many had suspected would require a miracle.
“This miracle was given to me with the help of Dr. Eric Jellen and members of the Benson Institute,” he said. Still, the challenge was great. “I was desperate trying to look for money for my tuition, borrowing from friends and family. Another challenge was visas. Somehow we managed to renew our visas, . . . which we attribute to the Lord’s hand because we can’t explain how it happened.
“All this time I just walked by faith,” he said.
The miracles continued to mount. “I was accepted into a master’s program in genetics and biotechnology at BYU, which was very challenging for me as a second-language speaker.”
The master’s program was demanding, Felix said. “But I was committed to finish my education by doing my best and walking by faith,” he said. He was quickly accepted into a PhD program, working with Dr. Paul Reynolds in the field of developmental biology and physiology.
“I am amazed how Heavenly Father sends blessings to His sons and daughters through loving and caring people. Having a scholarship means a lot to me and my family,” he said.
“I am confident that with my higher education and after returning to Peru . . . I will contribute to the betterment of life for my family and my countrymen. I know that this opportunity to study at BYU was a blessing of heaven. Money is a gatekeeper for those of us who have less. I am very grateful for the BYU scholarship money because I can finish my education, a dream that I once viewed as unattainable.”