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Renaltho's Journey: From Earthquake to Education

In a world filled with adversity, some stories stand as beacons of hope and determination — Renaltho's is one such story


Higher education was always a big part of Renaltho Claude’s life plan, and he dreamed of becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. However, his life took a drastic turn in 2010 when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, leaving the country — and his home — in ruins. Life became much more challenging, and the future that Renaltho had dreamed of seemed impossible.

“We couldn’t go to school. We couldn’t go to work,” he said. So he and his younger brother moved to Brazil to help support their family.

Promptings to progress

A man in a suit stands in front of a photo of Jesus Christ.
BYU-Pathway helped Renaltho realize that everything was possible.

Living as a refugee, Renaltho’s dream of a college degree was moving out of reach with each passing day. After working for a few months, Renaltho felt the desire to serve a full-time mission. However, that meant he would have to stop supporting his family in Haiti, who depended on him financially. Despite his fears, Renaltho took the leap of faith and served in the Canada Toronto Mission.

When he returned home, Renaltho’s bishop introduced him to BYU-Pathway Worldwide, and some faithful members helped pay his tuition. However, starting college wasn’t easy.

“I left high school almost 10 years ago, and I didn’t have the skills to learn and get a college degree,” he said. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it.”

From the beginning to a bachelor’s

A man holding his graduation certificate.
Having other students his age helped him not feel alone.

When Renaltho enrolled in BYU-Pathway, his instructors and friends in his gatherings helped him build his confidence and feel like he belonged.

He said, “Throughout the program, I felt I wasn’t alone and that there were other people going through the same thing as me.”

After completing foundational PathwayConnect courses, Renaltho worked toward an online degree in international studies from BYU-Idaho, including a certificate in business administration . And on July 20, 2022, he graduated, becoming the first member in his family to earn a university degree.

“BYU-Pathway helped me realize that everything was possible. I could do it, and the only thing I needed to do was dedicate myself,” Renaltho said.

Life after graduation

A man next to a woman
Renaltho and his wife

After moving from Brazil to Iowa, USA, for his wife’s job, Renaltho was hired as an intern at FamilySearch, managing projects, developing training materials, and researching in French and Portuguese. Using the multi-language skills he’d learned through his travels, he also translated materials from English to French and Spanish to Portuguese.

Post-internship, Renaltho is preparing for graduate school. He said, “I have received many offer letters with great salaries. My education has been a great blessing to me and my family, and I’ve been blessed with countless opportunities because of it.”

Looking back to the start of his journey, he said, “BYU-Pathway prepared me with all the skills I needed to be successful. I am eternally grateful for this program; it made what seemed impossible a reality. BYU-Pathway changed my life and helped me become a successful student with great blessings ahead of me.”