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Writer: Stephen Flander
Andrew Merrick had to find answers to all of these questions and more as he was finishing up the Academic Start portion of the Pathway Program in late 2011. Andrew and his wife, Stephanie, had both been part of the program and had attended the Huntington Beach, California, site together. He discovered the Pathway Program because of an assignment from his bishop. He was asked to find out more about the program for his singles ward and report back. Little did he know at the time that this assignment would change his life. The Merrick's experience through the program was rich and rewarding, and Andrew wanted that experience to continue.
"We knew we were receiving a quality education and it was the first time that I had ever prayed before a class lesson. It was a spiritually uplifting experience and although it was a great sacrifice for us, we looked forward to going every week."
Would he become a permanent online student or would he come to BYU-Idaho campus? Both Merrick and his wife were working full-time in California. Merrick was set up to receive a large promotion in his company, but his passion wasn't there.
Merrick explained,"During one Pathway class, we learned that when we 'put off education, we reduce our agency.' That stuck with me all week. I prayed about what I should do."
Prayer had become the guide for Merrick during his Pathway experience. "As I have sought to have Him in my life, I have found magnificent blessings and I have been able to reach my goals."
Merrick came to the conclusion that his family was supposed to come to BYU-Idaho. He and Stephanie welcomed their son, Tanner, into the world in February of 2012, and shortly after were accepted to be on-campus students at BYU-Idaho. "I prayed about what I should do. After a few months and discussing with my wife, we decided we should apply to BYU-Idaho...that's apparently what the Lord wanted also," Merrick said. "I have found a passion for teaching. I plan to get my degree in English Education and become a high school English teacher."
Merrick loved his Pathway experience. He credits much of his success to his Academic Start gathering group. "We developed such close bonds and friendships in the program. Our missionaries have become like parents to us." He has a bit of advice for current Pathway students, "Don't let your Thursday meetings be something you 'have' to do. Make it life changing. Get to know people in your group. When someone doesn't show up, give them a call. Have a pot-luck. It might be a class, but you are also brothers and sisters. Be that person who does small things to impact the lives of others."