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A Pioneer In Italy

Alessandra is the first in her family to take her path towards a higher education

Alessandra De Martino remembers the first time she learned about Church universities. She immediately wanted to make a Church-sponsored education one of her life goals, yet standing in the way were thousands of miles between her life in Italy and the Church schools in the United States.

Alessandra is grateful for the opportunity she has to pursue her educational goals through PathwayConnect.

“At that time, I did not have enough money to attend any of the BYU campuses, so from that day on, I prayed to Heavenly Father to give me a way to attend,” she said. “And that’s just what He did.”

Pioneering the Path

Although she was surrounded by various low-cost or free educational opportunities, Alessandra felt none of these paths were right for her. Years later, during her ward’s sacrament meeting, an announcement about PathwayConnect in Naples, Italy, caught her attention.

Alessandra felt that PathwayConnect could be her chance to receive the education she longed for. Although she was eager to join, she had some fears about pursuing her education. No one else in her family had received a university degree, so she would be the first to pioneer this academic path. But then one evening, a pair of young sister missionaries shared a message with Alessandra’s family that brought her the answer she was looking for.

I know this is the path the Lord wants for me.

As the missionaries invited the spirit into her home, Alessandra felt prompted to enroll in PathwayConnect, despite her worries. “The peace I felt brought the answer to my prayers; I could not lose this opportunity that the Lord was giving me because of my doubts. That day I gained a testimony that PathwayConnect was my way,” Alessandra recalled. “Whatever the trials, I know this is the path the Lord wants for me.”

In a few short weeks, Alessandra was attending her first PathwayConnect gathering . She knew this was the fastest and easiest way she could obtain a Church-sponsored education, improve her English, and become a better disciple of Christ.

Achieving Lifelong Goals

Through PathwayConnect’s unique online learning system, Alessandra was receiving the gospel-centered education she had longed for — and she did it all from her home country. At the start of her first semester, she set two goals — successfully completing PathwayConnect and improving her English. But over time, Alessandra saw herself achieving more than she imagined.

Alessandra (middle) with her PathwayConnect group and missionaries, who have given her the encouragement to achieve her goals

“In these past couple of months I accomplished more goals than I had set,” she said. “I felt confident speaking English, and I was better able to manage my time and my money.”

But even more than greater self-confidence, Alessandra felt her testimony strengthened. As she grew closer to the Lord by reading talks from Church leaders as part of her homework assignments, she “had the opportunity to ponder on many spiritual questions and overcome the trials in my life,” she remarked.

A Foundation for the Future

When Alessandra finished PathwayConnect in December 2016, her plans to study engineering through BYU-Idaho’s online degree program became a reality. She encourages anyone, especially international students, to join PathwayConnect and work toward their goals.

PathwayConnect is an inspired program

“PathwayConnect is an inspired program,” she said. “It isn’t only an online course, it is an educational program which helps people around the world to achieve a higher level of education and learn English.”

Oftentimes the journey toward the future may look unclear or out of reach. Alessandra learned to trust in the Lord as she overcame many obstacles that Saints around the world typically face — adjusting to life as a new convert, enduring the uncertainties of being a first generation college student, and working toward a gospel-centered education while living in another country.

Alessandra shares, “In Isaiah we read: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord’ ( Isaiah 55:8 ), and I bear witness of this. I testify that when we have faith in God and do His will, our life will be fulfilled.”

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