Over 1700 dedicated volunteers worldwide have fostered the phenomenal growth of the BYU Idaho Pathway Program from just 50 students in 2009 to over 14,000 students this year. Pathway is designed to help adults of all ages and circumstances achieve a college education. As the demand for the program grows, so does the need for leaders and facilitators. For members passionate about helping others achieve their educational dreams, Pathway offers several options for service.
One-half hour per week and a computer with Skype capabilities are the basic requirements to serve in this capacity. Many Pathway students have limited English abilities and as part of their coursework need the opportunity for authentic language experiences with other English speakers. A friendly, guided conversation once each week provides practice and confidence for the student and the opportunity for new friendships around the world or in the local community. Guidelines, videos and details about registering as a Speaking Partner/Mentor are available on the Pathway Website at https://pathway.lds.org.
Church Service Missionaries, the backbone of the Pathway program, average 5 to 20 hours per week as they assist with a variety of on-site needs in the program.
Generally, one couple is called to serve as site leaders, such as Elder Edward and Sister Trish Eaton of the Arizona Glendale Pathway site. They work hard to build ties with local Priesthood, Relief Society and Institute leaders.
“Pathway has proven to be a very effective tool in re-activation, new member development, and improving members’ ability to provide temporally for their families,” says Elder Eaton. Site leaders also coordinate classroom space, organize cohort groups, and facilitate training provided by BYUI.
Other missionary couples may be assigned as facilitators who oversee and mentor weekly gatherings.
“Our biggest challenge is developing a close relationship with the students,” says Sister Cookie Overson of the Arizona Show Low Pathway site. “We want very much to be there for them and to get to know them….We conduct meetings, work with the lead students and try to visit with them each week a little before and after the meetings.” To bond with the students, facilitators remain with their group throughout the year and continue to provide support as needed.
Rural areas like the reservations require a special kind of support for issues such as poverty, frequent power outages and slow Internet. Elder Louis Van Orden and his wife Claudia oversee the Arizona Chinle Pathway program.
“All learning benefits mankind,” she explains. “These students are required to sacrifice money, personal and family time…some driving 1.5 hours to come after working all day. Yet, it improves their knowledge, their self-esteem and they become committed to helping others succeed.”
In spite of these challenges, Sister Van Orden says, “I am always touched to hear the students thank the Lord for their Pathway missionaries…We have our reward in the wonderful friends we find in our students.”
Religion courses are made available to Pathway students through CES for transferable credit. These instructors build relationships with the students and service missionaries, provide Internet and facilities support during the weekly gatherings and assist in finding potential students.
Online instructors in math, English, and life skills (general studies) are provided through BYU Idaho. Requirements for qualified adjunct faculty are found at firstname.lastname@example.org.