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Dreams Coming True in Peru

Through dedication, Gloria reached her goal of a university degree, and now she's giving back

Moving forward, making plans, and receiving what God has in store

As a top student in her high school in Lima, Peru, and with a goal to get a university degree, Gloria met with a guidance counselor. Based on her interests and abilities, her guidance counselor encouraged her to study business management, communication, or to become a monk!

Gloria, her younger brother Alonso, and their mom
Gloria, her younger brother Alonso, and their mom

After that, Gloria knew she wanted to get her degree in business management at one of the renowned universities in Peru. With the support of her family, including her parents and brother Alonso, her dream was within reach. “It was going to be a big effort for my family to help me get this degree,” she said. “We did it, and I got a scholarship!”

Before beginning her university studies, Gloria had the opportunity to do a six-month internship with Proctor and Gamble in Panama. As she worked, she realized she wanted to get her business management degree in English. Following her experience in Panama, Gloria visited the United States, where she felt prompted to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With great faith, Gloria acted immediately to fill out her papers and was called to serve in Trujillo, Peru, a city about nine hours north of her home in Lima.

One choice and one opportunity can change a life

After returning from her mission, Gloria continued to pursue her goals of higher education. To her despair, the university she had previously been accepted to revoked her scholarship because of her time away for her internship and mission. Without the scholarship, it was extremely expensive for Gloria to attend the university.

Gloria Cornelio
Gloria Cornelio

Gloria worked very hard, but she couldn’t take all of the courses she wanted with the limited money she had. She recalls, “I remembered [my mission president] said there was a pilot program [for PathwayConnect] beginning and that we were going to be able to get a bachelor's degree online, so I went to the website and ... applied.”

In 2011, BYU-Pathway Worldwide launched its first international PathwayConnect site in Lima, Peru. Even though she technically missed the application deadline, this didn’t stop Gloria. She tried again and ended up being accepted. “Don’t give up,” she said. “For me, that was my barrier. But I tried again.... So just don’t give up. You can do it!”

Sacrifice and steady progress brings success

When Gloria started PathwayConnect, there wasn’t a gathering location nearby. She traveled almost three hours — alone — to her gatherings.

Gloria’s graduation
Gloria’s graduation in 2017

Each trip required her to take two buses and a moto-taxi each way. But her motivation allowed her to keep going, especially when the journey was hard.

Gloria loves PathwayConnect for how it helped her grow. “It’s a blessing for everybody in the world,” she said. “It allowed me to be a better person and disciple of Jesus Christ. I wanted to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to serve in a better way. So I thought business management would help me develop the skills I needed to achieve that.”

Gloria has always loved managing, planning, creating, and designing projects, and she especially loves working with and talking with people.

After PathwayConnect and her BYU-Idaho online degree program, presented and coordinated by BYU-Pathway Worldwide, Gloria graduated in April 2017, earning a bachelor's degree in business management and a minor in communications. She was the first international student to earn a BYU-Idaho bachelor's degree through BYU-Pathway.

Referring to her journey with BYU-Pathway, Gloria emphasized the importance of staying organized and choosing classes that you’re really interested in. She also said, “Everything you are getting through the program, you need to return in some way, serving other people.”

Finding joy in service and sharing, Gloria is giving back

Gloria’s example inspired her younger brother, Alonso, to participate in PathwayConnect, and her parents have started learning English!

Now 29 years old, Gloria uses her degree working for the Church, overseeing the welfare and self-reliance programs for Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador. She also serves as a service missionary assigned to BYU-Pathway Worldwide in Peru with a group of nine students.

She said, “BYU-Pathway students should look for the opportunity to be service missionaries now and help others join, learn more about the program, and become more self-reliant.”

Gloria with BYU-Pathway President Clark G. Gilbert and Ismar Vallecillos
Gloria with BYU-Pathway President Clark G. Gilbert and Ismar Vallecillos, the area manager over Peru

As a service missionary, Gloria expressed the joy she finds in seeing her students improve each week when she said, “I am very amazed and happy and excited to see how they improve… They can communicate with each other in English and their pronunciation is better each day. I am very happy to see their progress, and I can see that they are going to be the future leaders of the Church here too.... When I see them, I can see that our Heavenly Father is happy.”