Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Cambodia Celebrates First PathwayConnect Graduation

21 students complete their first year of the PathwayConnect program

The first generation of 21 BYU PathwayConnect students celebrated their graduation from the program on January 4, 2020.  They are showing students in Cambodia that the Pathway slogan of “Start Small and Dream Big” for a higher education can become a reality. For many Cambodians, dreaming big about higher education has remained just a dream. Compulsory education for Cambodians is offered through grade nine. However, it is common, especially in the provinces, for students to drop out of school before the ninth grade in order to help support their families.

BYU PathwayConnect, an educational program sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is helping many Cambodians revive their dream of higher education.

                                  

Chaoboran Oroum (Boran), 26, is just one example of this "pathway" of change. Boran attended high school, but he said that he was not a good student. He took the national high school exam twice and failed in both attempts. He said this was very discouraging and he began to lose hope, wasted a lot of time, and stopped caring about his plans for the future. However, after being inactive in the Church for several years, Boran came back and prepared himself to serve a mission.

“While on my mission, I came to realize that studying is essential, and being educated was the first thing that I needed to do after I returned home from my mission.”

Just a year after his return home from his mission, it was announced in November 2018, that BYU PathwayConnect had been approved for Cambodia.  This program provides courses designed to help students learn basic skills and gain the confidence and abilities needed to succeed in college and life. Skills learned include: critical decision-making, goal setting, time management, teamwork, collaboration, study skills, budgeting, and career planning.

After successfully completing three semesters of PathwayConnect, students can

  1. Apply to earn a low-cost certificate or degree online from Brigham Young University Idaho, which is an accredited inititution of higher education in the United States.
  2. Consider a local college or university.
  3. Get a new or improved job. 
  4. Pursue a variety of other educational options.

Boran, one of the 21 students who just graduated from the PathwayConnect program, reflected on his experience:

“I had never gotten an A while I was in high school. I always got behind everyone else. Finally, I have graduated from BYU Pathway. Yay! It’s my first time! I am excited to continue my education with BYU – Idaho online. I know there is no coincidence. This is a divine design from heaven.”

He plans to get a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). He will then pursue a bachelors degree in applied business management.

Most PathwayConnect students in Cambodia have full-time jobs, as well as other schooling, family, and Church commitments. A few already have good jobs or university degrees.

                                               

Some have shared that one of the main reasons they are continuing their education is to better serve their Father in Heaven and His children. They recognize that education and self-reliance is the key to helping them do this. Sophea Som, a 29 year-old accountant, shared that,

“BYU PathwayConnect has prepared me to be a better person. It has especially helped me to be what Heavenly Father wants me to be. It taught me what I can do to receive blessings, both temporal and spiritual. It is my first time to study that way. No other way or school has taught me like that. It also encourages me to continue to improve and do my best to reach my goals.”

Sophea is now continuing her education online at BYU – Idaho. She will be studying finance.

For anyone interested in more information about BYU PathwayConnect:

  • Visit the BYU Pathway Home Page (See below in 'Additional Resources')
  • Email:    david.a.johnson@missionary.org
  • Email:    johnson.susan@missionary.org

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