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The Unspoken Dream

Read about Joseph's incredible 23-year journey to a degree

Joseph Kemper and his wife

When I was 10 years old, a dream was planted deep within my heart. Then, when I got my patriarchal blessing, that dream became a commandment: “I bless you during your continued educational and growing up years, that you will learn all that you can about the various secular subjects that you study.” My dream was to get a degree. I never told anyone how much this dream means to me.

A couple on their wedding day
Joseph and his wife on their wedding day.

My first three attempts to get a degree ended in an expensive bicycle wreck, unemployment, and a serious illness. The third time I dropped out of school again, I gave up any hope I had left of seeing my dream come true.

In the 23 years I’ve been actively trying to get my degree, the journey has become a parable of the many struggles I’ve faced — the many things that have held me back. My journey has become a symbol that tells me, when I have finally gotten my degree, I will have also conquered all those things that have held me back for my whole life.

The degree I will be getting today (in December 2023) is the final step in a sacred journey, commanded by God, that has transformed my life in more ways than I know how to count. I look at the man I am today and am shocked at just how much I’ve changed.

That diploma means that, no matter what comes my way, I will be able to win. The day I get that degree will rank with only two other moments in my life: the day I got my mission call and the day I got married.

Joseph Kemper graduated from BYU-Idaho.

I’ve spent more than 10,000 hours studying to get my degree, battled through every single personal weakness that tried to stop me from moving forward, and literally redefined myself and how I view myself. The only reason I am here now, within tasting distance of my dream, is because I chose to not let anything get in my way. And each time I hit my end, I had to find strength — a strength I did not know existed. And through that sacred journey, I have gained a testimony that I can do all things through Christ, who has always been there gifting me with strength I did not know I had.

Looking back at my journey, I see why God wanted me to struggle so much. I see what He wanted me to learn. I see a taste of the man He is still trying to help me become. I am going to focus on this dream, 23 years in the making. My dream has only been made possible through BYU-Pathway, an experience I will fondly remember for the rest of my life: for I truly believe that it was a blessing and miracle God brought into my life. Seeing a goal I have been working toward for 23 years fulfilled, having faced all I have in the process, is a miracle.

Contributor: Yessica Cardona