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Never Out of Reach

After years of waiting, April finally got the chance to finish her education.

Earning a bachelor’s degree was never easy for April Leslie Deal.

After high school, April completed a dual associate degree in arts and science. She planned to continue her education, but life seemed to keep getting in the way.

April and her Kids
April and her sons, Skyler (13) and Xander (8)

First, April was offered a good job at a company that claimed they would help her finish her degree. She took the job, but they weren’t as supportive as they initially promised. She began looking at other options to continue her education, but she got married shortly afterward and her focus shifted.

The more April’s life changed, the more out of reach her education felt. Between working, raising children, moving several times, and struggling with a husband who wasn’t very supportive of April going back to school, years went by with no progress toward her degree. Then, her life changed again — but not in a way she wanted or expected.

Dealing with divorce

April’s marriage abruptly ended with divorce. “My divorce was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through,” she said. “I had a five-year-old and a newborn. I questioned everything in my life, including God. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Despite the questions weighing heavily on her heart, April took a leap of faith and enrolled in a local community college. As a single mother, she felt a new sense of urgency to finish her degree and provide for her two sons, Skyler and Xander.

April enjoyed her classes, but they quickly became a financial burden. “I was so worried about money,” she said. “It was super expensive!”

She had heard about BYU-Pathway Worldwide and its affordable tuition rates, but the PathwayConnect program wasn’t available in her area at the time (before virtual gatherings became available). When a new gathering location opened in Springfield, Florida, just an hour from April’s home, she knew it was the perfect opportunity. It would still be difficult to take online courses and attend the gathering each week on top of her other responsibilities, but she knew the sacrifice would be worth it.

April and her son Skyler
April and her son, Skyler

Turning trial into triumph

“It just seemed like things started to fall into place for me,” April said. “I started to see little miracles and to feel God’s love for me.”

She found a member of her gathering group to carpool with each week, and she enjoyed the lessons in her courses. More than anything, though, April found an unexpected support system in her PathwayConnect gathering group.

During an especially challenging time, April emailed her group members to explain the situation and that she wasn’t sure if she could continue. She said, “Pretty much everyone replied back and said, ‘We got you. We’ll pray for you. We support you. You can do this. We’re with you.’ It was a huge support system.”

Thanks to her hard work and the support she received along the way, April not only finished PathwayConnect but went on to earn a bachelor’s degree online in business management from BYU-Idaho, supported by BYU-Pathway. After many difficult years, she achieved her goal!

“It’s so hard to put into words how much of a blessing [BYU-Pathway] was,” April said. “It was just there when I needed it.”

Receiving and giving help

April’s advice to other BYU-Pathway students is, “You do what you can do. Don’t compare yourself to what other people are doing. Just keep moving forward. Don’t give up.”

April and her kids Building a Snowman
April and her sons love spending time outdoors!

April also encourages BYU-Pathway students to reach out to the people around them. For her, study groups with peers and the BYU-Pathway Online Student Community were valuable resources. “There were people there that were extremely helpful and encouraging,” she said. “Allow people to be encouraging to you — don’t turn away from it.”

Although April isn’t sure what the future holds, her education has given her greater confidence and preparation to face whatever comes. “The blessings have continued for me and my family,” she said. “I know that my Heavenly Father will continue to help and support me. I know that I can do it.”