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From Pathway to Paradise: A Journey of Resilience for Education

Francis Gomez, a junior majoring in business management from Pasig City, Philippines, describes his long journey to get a quality education, from trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, his enrollment into BYU–Pathway Worldwide, and the fulfillment of his goal to reach BYU–Hawaii.

Portrait of Francis Gomez
Photo by Douglas Ferreira

The “Pathway” to BYU–Hawaii

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gomez and his wife, Pariszia, moved to Iloilo City, Philippines, where Gomez served his mission and where his wife’s family originated. “We decided to do so to get away from the craziness of the pandemic in Manila.” Gomez stated, emphasizing the lack of economic and career opportunities back then. During this time, Gomez became interested in applying for BYU–Pathway Worldwide.

Portrait of Gomez and his wife, Pariszia
Photo by Douglas Ferreira

“My wife had already finished Pathway and was doing BYU–Idaho Online. Since it was the pandemic and we were stuck working from home, I figured that I really had nothing to lose if I enrolled in Pathway,” Gomez said. Speaking about his intentions, he says, “I didn’t really have much of a goal when I started doing the classes except ‘why not?’ But then, eventually, after completing Pathway, me and my wife learned that we had an option to go to BYU–Hawaii. We applied, and luckily, we got accepted.”

One Heart, One Mind

“One of the greatest blessings being on-campus here in BYUH is being surrounded by people of the same faith and general situation in life. Here, there are a lot of people in our age range who are going through the same things in life; school, work, getting married, and starting a family” Gomez said, highlighting the culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ found throughout the campus since most students are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While all students are unique, “all cultures are one” as well through the common experience of college life as a Latter-day Saint.

“When you’re surrounded by people you can relate to, our common goal of continually being better people allows us to be stronger individuals.” Gomez said, enjoying the collectiveness of improving through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He adds, “Back home, you would have the elderly and the young people being at odds on how to live the gospel life, but here at BYUH, everyone is like you. We are all just trying our best and being there for each other makes all our experiences better.”

The Impact of Diversity

Gomez cites the school’s diversity in influencing his life as a student, allowing him to bridge barriers and make connections with different cultures. “In the Philippines, most people are Filipino, and it can be hard making friends with people from other cultures. Being in school here for the past one and a half years allowed me to see, work with, study with, and live with people of different backgrounds and languages, some with cultures closer to mine and some totally different,” Gomez said, experiencing the multitude of over 70 countries’ worth of students that Brigham Young University–Hawaii offers. He adds, “As long as you look for the similarities within different people, you can build relationships with them as one, unified children of God.”

Portrait of Gomez.
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Speaking about the overall long-term impact on himself, Gomez says that “BYUH gave me a greater appreciation and understanding of all of God’s children,” testifying that his tenure as a student has changed and improved his views on his fellow men. Reflecting on his remaining time as a student, he emphasizes one skill that he will take advantage of after he graduates, saying, “After I leave this school, I’m going to use this skill of making connections with people, no matter how different they look or sound. I believe that if people try harder to see and treat others in this way, our world will be changed for the better.”

An Inspiration for the Next Generation

Regarding his plans to give back to Brigham Young University–Hawaii after the completion of his program, Gomez states that his contributions post-graduation will primarily involve being a good example as an individual.

Speaking about legacy, Gomez says “Something that I can give back is building on the legacy of BYUH. I want to show the world in the future that I—a BYUH graduate—am an upright and honest person. I hope my example and BYUH’s legacy inspire the younger generation and future students at this school to be good people. That will be the legacy I want to leave behind. The best thing I can do for BYUH is to be a good person and become that ‘genuine gold’ President David O. McKay envisioned.”

Francis Gomez’s journey from availing the blessings of BYU–Pathway Worldwide to embracing diversity in BYU–Hawaii has been nothing short of inspirational. His divinely led path to getting an education reflects the teachings of Jesus Christ, emphasizing that trials, pivots, and trust in the Lord enable a person to be refined and grow beyond what they plan themselves to be.