Despite being told she couldn’t reach her dreams, Ann Peterson had the courage to join BYU‑Pathway and prove her doubters wrong
In my last year of high school, I had a meeting with my counselor about college. She informed me that if I wanted to get into my dream university, I needed a nearly perfect score on my ACT. When I got my less-than-perfect test results back and we met a second time, the counselor said, “Well, Ann, maybe you just aren’t college material.” I was devastated, and the idea of attending college seemed far out of reach.
Giving college a second try
After that, I worked several jobs until I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere in life without an education. I enrolled in classes at a local college, including a basic computer course. I had never used a computer before, and on the first day of class, I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. When I told my professor, she replied, “If you don’t know how to do this, maybe you shouldn’t be here.” I quietly gathered my things, cried the whole way home, and unenrolled from all of my classes.
I got married two years later, and my husband was heartbroken when I told him my story. He insisted I was very smart and could succeed in college, but at that point, I was too afraid.
Fifteen years later, my husband and I had six children, several of them with special needs. I spent many hours in meetings with administrators, therapists, doctors, and district officials. I’d become an advocate for my son with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Autism. I was well-versed in his disorder, but people often didn’t take me seriously, and saw me as “just a mom.”
Discovering BYU‑Pathway Worldwide
My husband came home one day and told me about BYU-Pathway Worldwide's PathwayConnect and encouraged me to enroll. At first, I shied away from the idea, but then let the thought tumble in the back of my mind.
Months later, I found the courage to look at the BYU‑Pathway website and learn about the program. I soaked in every word. I even filled out the application, thinking maybe I could do it. After a little hesitation, I finally told myself, “Just do it” and pushed the button!
My husband was so excited when I told him. He assured me he would do whatever possible to help me in my journey. He cooked meals, helped kids with homework, and entertained them so I could study.
Things went well for that first year of PathwayConnect. I was still terrified, but my gathering group was a saving grace. They supported and encouraged me. We became a family. They helped me so much that, when I finished my year at PathwayConnect, I didn’t hesitate to enroll in an online degree program from BYU-Idaho. I decided to get a degree in family sciences and psychology* so I could help other families with special needs kids.
My first semester at BYU-Idaho included a math class. I went in with the confidence built from my BYU‑Pathway family, even though I knew I would hit hurdles. One day, I tried to create a formula in Excel but couldn’t figure it out. I reached out to my class peers, my old PathwayConnect group, my husband, my sister — anyone I could think of, but no one answered.
I thought about how the Lord helps in times of despair and began to pray — but still, no one answered. My doubts began to creep back in, but I pushed them away and worked with renewed vigor. I was going to figure it out!
It took a long time, but I did it. When I finally made the formula pop out the correct answer, I burst into tears. I had done it myself! I knelt and thanked Heavenly Father for this experience to teach me to have faith in myself.
That was a turning point for me. I haven’t finished my degree yet, but I’m chipping away at it. The doubt never wins. I still get overwhelmed sometimes, but I have faith that I can get through it now. That’s what BYU‑Pathway has given me. For the first time in decades, I believe in myself. I will achieve my goals!
*Currently available online degree programs are listed on BYU-Pathway's