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A Life Transformed by Ensign College

January 2024

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Jonjoe McManus in a city in the streetEnsign College has helped to transform Jonjoe McManus’s life.

From the outside, McManus’s childhood in Manchester, England, seemed normal. He had
many happy childhood memories playing and being kids with his four older sisters and one younger sister. But behind closed doors, he grew up in a broken home, where he was physically and emotionally abused.

In addition to experiencing this abuse, McManus lost his teenage little sister to suicide in 2015, two years after she was diagnosed with a severe eating disorder. Just 22 months after this, McManus suffered another tragedy when his best friend also developed an eating disorder and took his own life. The despair and pain that McManus felt was intense and lonely. This trouble led him to abuse alcohol and drugs.

McManus and his mother eventually left their home to escape the violence. They were on their own, with little money to survive. McManus says, “It should have been the hardest time of our lives, but it ended up being the best. Just two days after leaving my home, I met a missionary from Utah. He preached the gospel to me, and Christ saved me. Just six weeks later I was baptized, and another two weeks later my younger sister was baptized by proxy in the temple.” The transformation in McManus’s life was beautiful. During his conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, he felt more hope and light than he ever had previously.

He had always dreamed of living in America. When he was a child, he used to tell his mother that someday he would buy her a home in America so she could be safe and happy. As time went on, he lost sight of this dream. He also thought it wouldn’t be possible to get a college degree since he had dropped out of college shortly after his sister passed away. McManus understood the importance of having an education to further his goals, but he was worried that his previous substance abuse and trauma would reduce his ability to retain information and to earn a degree. McManus says, “After being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I knew Jesus Christ was beginning to heal me both mentally and physically. And I started to believe that maybe I could someday go to college.”

“All things are possible with Christ. Your kindness in donating to Ensign College helped me to be refined by my past rather than defined by my past mistakes.”
—Jonjoe McManus

Most of the schools in England and the US were expensive, but one of the missionaries who served in Manchester told McManus about Ensign College. Once McManus started researching the school, he felt a light inside himself. He was excited and felt that he could achieve his dream of studying and moving to America. “God blessed me with a determination and a discipline I’ve never experienced before. In my life at that point, I knew I had to get to Ensign College.”

For two years, McManus worked 70 to 96 hours a week and budgeted to live on only $12 of food a week to save enough money to come to America. He explains, “It sounds like it was a really hard thing to go through all that. It was actually one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I learned a lot of lessons from God about sacrifice and allowing God to work with me on my goals.”

One of the best days of his life was when McManus received an acceptance email from Ensign College. He says, “I will never forget the childlike joy that I felt on that day. I also felt disbelief and immense gratitude toward Ensign College for taking a chance on me. I felt as though they accepted me into a new life. I could move on and start this new world. And I cried tears of happiness that day.”

About a year into his studies at Ensign College, McManus received a much-needed scholarship. He recalls, “Just days earlier I had sent all of my savings back to a family member in the UK who had an emergency, and I had no money to pay for the upcoming semester. I was stressed thinking that I was going to have to withdraw from my studies and head back to the UK.”

McManus treasures the opportunity he has had to study at Ensign College. He looks forward to graduating soon with a degree in paralegal studies and starting a career that will help him take care of his family. The gratitude that he feels for those who donate is immense. He knows that your sacrifice has allowed him and countless other Ensign College students to stay in school and to graduate. He says, “All things are possible with Christ. Your kindness in donating to Ensign College helped me to be refined by my past rather than defined by my past mistakes.”

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