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The Wait is Over

After decades of waiting, PathwayConnect helped Lillian achieve her educational dream

Fifty-two years. That's how long Lillian Croft waited for this opportunity — the chance to get a university education. She dreamed about it for decades, and now, thanks to PathwayConnect, her dream has become a reality.

One thing after another

It wasn’t easy for her, though. Lillian, like many PathwayConnect students, went through her fair share of obstacles over the years. But unlike many students, she started her educational journey in the program at seventy years old.

“Always waiting seemed to be my motto,” she said. “Waiting for the kids to grow up, waiting for the finances to be manageable, waiting for time in my schedule, or waiting for a university to be closer to where I lived. But as long as I can remember, I have wanted an education.”

Always waiting seemed to be my motto, but as long as I can remember, I have wanted an education.

She never went to university in her youth. Growing up in Colorado, Lillian was one of nine children dependent on the income of their father, a self-employed painter, to take care of their basic needs. With everything to provide for, there simply wasn’t enough money for school.

When disaster struck her family early in her life, Lillian’s hopes for a university degree were completely put aside.

“My father died two months before my seventeenth birthday,” Lillian remembered. “There I was with no father, no money for a university education, and on top of that I was a convert to the Church.” Faced with those difficulties, Lillian decided to do what many other people do: she moved on. “I did what was expected of me,” she said, “I married and I raised my seven children.”

But even then, Lillian never forgot about her dream to someday earn a university degree.

New hope

Decades later, while she and her husband were serving a mission in Russia, some students told them about PathwayConnect. Lillian thought it sounded fantastic, but not knowing the program was offered in the United States, she dismissed the idea of attending herself.

Lillian and her husband Bob on their senior couple mission in Russia.
Lillian and her husband, Bob, served a senior couple mission together in Russia.

All that soon changed.

“Shortly after coming home from our mission, we moved to Boise, Idaho. One day, while walking down the hall of our chapel, I noticed a PathwayConnect flier pinned to the bulletin board. I could not believe my eyes! I wrote the information down and called the missionaries over the program in my area.”

Lillian enrolled as soon as possible. After so many years, she found herself once again chasing her lifelong dream of earning a university degree.

Learning is an adventure for all ages

Now through PathwayConnect, Lillian finds herself on her academic journey. Although it has been exciting, she was a little nervous in the beginning. She said, “Before starting the program I was worried about keeping up with the younger students.”

Her fears, however, were quickly settled as she began her classes.

“I was greatly surprised that the program was not as difficult as I thought it might be,” she responded. “The feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem you gain far outweigh the learning curve.”

Plus, Lillian always gets the help she needs. “There are people who help you every step of the way,” she explained. “There is additional help and tutoring if you need it.”

Lillian loves how students help each other through inspired gathering meetings.

“One of the beauties of PathwayConnect is we all support each other. My heart was softened as I sat in my first class and saw and heard the life stories of my fellow classmates. I was not alone. Our paths were different but we all wanted the same thing: an education.”

“Never too old…”

When Lillian joined PathwayConnect, she left behind her old mentality of “Always waiting.” She has seen many blessings come from pursuing her dream. The program has been an inspiration to her.

“PathwayConnect motivates me,” she said. “It motivates me to study my scriptures each week, motivates me to be held accountable for what I studied, motivates me to change myself by becoming a better disciple of Christ, and motivates me to start obtaining Christlike attributes.”

She teaches her children and grandchildren through her example as she presses on toward earning her degree. Through PathwayConnect, her family has grown closer together.

Lillian with her large family
Lillian with her large family at a family reunion in Fresno, California

“My family has been blessed,” said Lillian. “I have heard such positive comments from my children and grandchildren. I thought I might hear comments like, ‘Good for you, mom,’ or, ‘Take it easy, don’t overdo it,’ but what I got was, ‘I am so proud of you.’”

Spiritually, she now better understands her relationship with God. She said, “My testimony has deepened. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I truly feel like I am a daughter of God and He loves and cares about me.”

You are never too old to learn.

More than anything, Lillian is grateful she could be a part of it all. For years, her dream seemed far out of reach, but now she is witnessing it all come true. Lillian has adopted a new life motto: where once she said she was always waiting, thanks to PathwayConnect she now proudly proclaims, “You are never too old to learn.”

Bob and Lillian are now service missionaries assigned to BYU-Pathway and Lillian is earning an associate degree through BYU-Idaho online.

PathwayConnect empowers people of all ages to chase their dreams. If you have found yourself in a position of “always waiting,” don’t be afraid to make something happen.