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The Undercover Pathway Student — Friendship

Pathway writer Dannielle Hext experienced PathwayConnect’s power to unite as an undercover student


As a writer for BYU-Pathway, I didn’t fully understand the student experience. Every day, I heard stories about how PathwayConnect changes lives, but I wanted to experience it myself. So I went undercover for one semester to see the program through a student’s eyes. This is what I learned…

Lesson 1: Friendship

It was the dead of winter, and once again I was far from my family, living in a new apartment with new roommates, in a town buried in snow and ice.

Hinckley Building on the BYU-Idaho campus.
Dannielle and her fellow students gathered at the Hinckley Building on the BYU-Idaho campus.

I expected the semester to be long, cold, and lonely, but through PathwayConnect, it wasn’t so bad. Through my online course and weekly gatherings, I experienced PathwayConnect’s power to bring people together and unite.

The first lesson I learned as an undercover student is that in PathwayConnect, students are united — everyone is welcome and everyone is wanted.

A Feeling of Connectedness

When I started my online course, I quickly found I would make friends in PathwayConnect. Even on the first discussion board of the semester, I got to know my fellow students. I read about dozens of people — I talked with someone from across the world in New South Wales!

Being part of this online community was a different experience for me, and as time progressed, I began to see these people as more than just my fellow students — I bonded with them as peers. Each person I met was so different, but each added their own unique and valuable viewpoints to the course.

These feelings of unity didn’t just happen with my fellow students. It also happened with my instructor, who always made herself available to talk to. She was very insightful, and always gave personalized feedback on all of my assignments. When I missed assignments, she would contact me to offer encouragement and assistance. What she did helped me feel like I was part of more than just an online program. She made me feel valued and appreciated.

The Best Part of PathwayConnect

Many students often say gatherings are their favorite part of PathwayConnect, and as an undercover student, I was excited to see the gathering in a new perspective. In the end, I learned I could also find friendship at gatherings.

Dannielle at one of her weekly gatherings
Dannielle at one of her weekly gatherings in Rexburg, Idaho

At my first gathering, I was surprised at how much I had in common with the other students. I expected to feel isolated, but I didn’t. We were all able to connect through things we had in common. Being with all those other students helped me realize how connection and support are important and necessary parts of the PathwayConnect experience.

In those short hours, I came to a deeper understanding of how students feel about their gatherings. I personally witnessed the weekly support and interaction that makes PathwayConnect the program it is. I was amazed at how little the gathering felt like a classroom — instead, it felt like being together with a group of friends. It was like we already knew each other. I felt like I could be open without being judged.

Welcome to PathwayConnect

Since finishing the semester, many people from my gathering have told me that my friendliness and comments helped them throughout the semester, and that is what PathwayConnect is all about. As I shared with my fellow students and they shared with me, we all grew together. Everyone comes from a unique background, but in PathwayConnect one thing united us: we were all working to improve ourselves and grow as children of God.

So, if you are looking for support and friendship, you’re sure to find it in PathwayConnect. During my time in the program, I never felt lonely because I knew there were people rooting for my success, and I was rooting for theirs, too.

Dannielle with some of her BYU-Pathway co-workers
Dannielle with some of her BYU-Pathway co-workers

This article is the first part of a four-part series dedicated to the lessons Dannielle learned during her experience as an undercover student in PathwayConnect. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for parts two , three and four of the series!

You can experience the blessings of PathwayConnect, too! Explore what PathwayConnect has to offer, and apply for the program by visiting Pathway’s website .