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School can be Scary, but it’s Better with a Friend

Mother and daughter overcome their fears of starting school by working together


For five-year-old Xelly (pronounced Shelly), starting kindergarten was intimidating. But knowing that her mom, Jonique, was nervous about starting school too, gave both of them the courage to face their fears together.

Getting Back to School

Jonique and her husband, Jacob.

Jonique Beach first heard about PathwayConnect from service missionaries in her ward in Mesa, Arizona. She liked the idea of going back to get an education, but she wasn’t sure if she would be able to successfully balance education into her busy life.

Along with her husband, Jacob, Jonique looked after their family of three children, a dog, and a couple of kittens. Add in her service as a member of her daughter’s school board, the business she was trying to kickoff, and a side job as a massage therapist, and there wasn’t much space for Jonique to work on her education.

Jonique always planned to work full time as a massage therapist once all of her kids were old enough to attend school, but as Jacob finished his master’s degree in 2015, going back to school seemed to be more important. Jonique loved the idea of going to school, but she was not a fan of change or meeting new people. So she needed a little push.

“Jacob knew I needed some encouragement to start PathwayConnect,” Jonique recalled. “With his help, I enrolled in PathwayConnect, and before I knew it, I got an email saying ‘Congratulations on registering for PathwayConnect.’ I could not have done it without the incredible support and encouragement from my husband.”

Overcoming Fear

Jonique started PathwayConnect in September 2015. Even though she knew she wanted to be in the program, she was afraid of the change it would cause in her life. But through the example of her daughter, Xelly, Jonique found the strength to move forward.

“My daughter was having a hard time starting kindergarten. I told her I was also going to school and that I was nervous, too,” Jonique shared. Her words comforted Xelly and soon she grew excited to meet this next big adventure alongside her mom.

Jonique and Xelly.

Often times, when Xelly would bring home assignments, she and Jonique would do their school work together in their home office. If any of her brothers were being noisy, Xelly would say, “Boys, we are trying to do our homework!”

Jonique says that her daughter is her main inspiration for PathwayConnect.

“When Xelly is excited for me, I get excited for myself. I actually end up enjoying class even more,” Jonique said.

Every Thursday Xelly gets her mom excited for the gathering, and says, “We are doing our homework together, huh mom?” or “You will have friends at school like me!” Jonique especially enjoys when her daughter asks about her day at school — Xelly always gets a puzzled look when Jonique tells her they learned about Jesus.

Growing Closer through Education

Despite originally being skeptical about starting school again, Jonique has loved growing closer to her daughter through their academic goals. “It’s hard to pass up an opportunity like this,” Jonique said.

In the future, Jonique would plans to continue her education by pursuing an online degree in web design and development or marriage and family studies at BYU-Idaho. As for five-year-old Xelly, she wants to be a mommy “who teaches kindergarten and lets the kids color all the time,” because that’s how she learns best.