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Inspired To Make a Difference

Connor is using his education to work on a project to help diabetics


Connor Behr is a BYU-Pathway Worldwide student in his second semester in the PathwayConnect program. He’s also a scientist! Growing up, Connor always loved science and was particularly interested in physarum polycephalum — a slimelike mold that can reproduce easily. He didn’t know while growing up that this slime mold could potentially help many people around the world.

Connor and his wife, Anika
Connor and his wife, Anika

Connor is from Ogden, Utah, and he and his wife, Anika, love to create art as they enjoy their life together as newlyweds. While they share many similar hobbies, Connor’s primary hobby revolves around his love for science. His science experiments led him to discover that the slimelike mold he knew so much about could potentially help those who suffer from diabetes.

Diabetics are unable to produce an important protein in their pancreas called insulin. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics need insulin daily to live, but it has become extremely expensive.

Connor’s sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when insulin prices had already begun to skyrocket. He thought, “Why isn’t this being fixed? I have some spare time. I’ll fix that.”

In an effort to help his sister, along with millions of other diabetics, he devotes most of his time to this project, which he likes to call the PhyR, or “fire,” project. For the past two years, this project has acted as a full-time job for Connor. This is an ongoing endeavor to produce insulin at a faster rate using the slime mold, which is much more similar to the natural cells in our body, making it better and cheaper for diabetics.

A modified physarum polycephalum specimen under UV light
A modified physarum polycephalum specimen under UV light

He knew that he would eventually have to gain an education to proceed in his endeavors, but like many PathwayConnect students, Connor’s life is filled with time-consuming responsibilities that made an on-campus education impossible. With the PhyR project acting as a full-time job, Connor needed something to help him get his degree in a quick, convenient, and cost-effective way. That’s when he found PathwayConnect.

PathwayConnect has helped Connor earn an education as he progresses in his project and stay close to the Lord. As he works on his education in the morning, he invites the Spirit into his home, which helps guide him in his daily work.

Connor has been able to feel the Spirit guide him to find answers to difficult questions in his studies and research. As he went through the first two semesters of PathwayConnect, he knew the Lord was watching out for him, his education, and his project.

Connor said, “It was definitely the spiritual side of PathwayConnect that reinstituted me into the gospel and still supplements my spiritual diet. It’s very nurturing, and it just feels good. My testimony has definitely grown.”

Connor further explained, “The Spirit has given me peace and direction. I give credit to the Spirit and mostly to the [PathwayConnect] program which has allowed me to carry the Spirit with me throughout the day.”

Connor working on his PhyR project
Connor working on his PhyR project

Not only has PathwayConnect helped Connor spiritually, but it has helped him in his professionalism. Connor said, “Being involved with PathwayConnect has helped [me] receive trust, professionalism, and credibility.” As a scientist, Connor needs to show that he is furthering his education in addition to furthering this project. Connor reaches out to big companies for information and help with this project, and juggling online education while working on this project takes determination. PathwayConnect ended up helping Connor with not only his project, but with his well-being, which he hopes to give back to diabetics.

Connor shared, “[This project] is not about me — it’s about diabetics. It’s about people in general. I know [PathwayConnect] can bless so many other people in so many different ways. When I think, ‘Why should I be in this class?’ I think, ‘This class isn’t about me. This life isn’t about me. It’s about everyone around me.”

What are ways the Spirit has helped you in your education?