Marriott Alumni Magazine

Fall 2020

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Page 35 of 51

BYU–Pathway's partnership with BYU–Idaho was recently expanded to Ensign College (for- merly LDS Business College). Other Church- supported programs include online seminary and online institute; EnglishConnect, which teaches English as a second language; BYU Online; and BYU Independent Study middle and high school courses, which now can cul- minate in a high school diploma through the new BYU online high school program. "No matter where you live, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have access to a high-quality, affordable, spiritually based education," Gilbert says. Stephanie Allen Egbert, a 2020 BYU Marriott MPA graduate, associate in the Office of the Commissioner of Church Education and director of the Church's Global Education Initiative, an education support effort for youth in developing countries. "I can give you all the reasons, from a corporate perspective, that a company would want to do an online- learning program, such as cost savings and return on investment," she says. "But truly, when I talk to people in Church programs, they say, 'We just want to reach more people. We just want more students to come and be blessed with the gospel of Jesus Christ.' " By helping the hidden many explore online- learning options, he says, BYU–Pathway and other Church-affiliated learning programs are tapping into an underserved popula- tion: those who may not be able to partici- pate in the traditional college experience, for reasons including academic confidence, financial concerns, disability, extracurricular activities, mental health issues, work con- flicts, or family responsibilities. To better serve these students, BYU–Pathway employs innovative techniques including predictive analytics, remote-student mentoring, and a certificate-first program that offers a creden- tial after only one year of schooling, creating immediate value should a student be unable to persist to the bachelor's degree. 9 By nature, the program can be considered a social entrepreneurship venture, as it has a strong mission that dramatically impacts lives and is financially stable and scalable. "About 55 percent of Church members in the United States and 85 percent of members internationally have no associate's or bach- elor's degree," Gilbert says. "We're trying to make this as affordable as possible for the student while still providing a high-quality education." STEALING THE GLOBAL SCENE Onnastasia Cole struggled to graduate from high school because she grew up in an unsta- ble environment lacking necessary academic support. She didn't initially consider college as an option, but the Pathway program pro- vided her an accessible entry point. "Pathway definitely helped me build the confidence I needed to succeed in the class- room again," Cole says. "The hybrid learning format was great for me because it gave me plenty of time to study—plus face-to-face interaction with my peers once a week. I'm grateful that Pathway was an option because it opened so many more doors than I thought possible." She graduated with a certificate from BYU–Pathway in 2015 and with a BA in professional writing from BYU–Idaho in 2019. Students such as Cole are one of the pri- mary motivations behind the many Church- supported, distance-learning programs, says Rather than devaluing classroom education, distance learning complements it by providing another vehicle to reach the same learning objectives. 34 MARRIOTT

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