In April 2017, Jeremy Prete and his family attended graduation at BYU—Idaho, where he obtained his degree in Marriage and Family Studies. His educational journey did not take traditional paths nor has it ended.
Beginning an Educational Journey
Jeremy grew up in Cardston as a youth, but in 2000 he was living in Boston, where he enrolled in a psychology program at Framingham College. After successive work related transfers to San Diego and then to Utah, a series of life circumstances led him back to Cardston, where he met, fell in love, and married Sarah in the Cardston Alberta Temple.
For the past 18 years, education has been a major focus of their married partnership. They first attended Brigham Young University (BYU)—Hawaii. School there was easy and beautiful. Days in a classroom and sunsets on the beach made this an extremely memorable educational stop.
This lifestyle changed when they learned that a baby was on the way. They moved back to Canadian soil and more affordable healthcare. A beautiful baby girl was born in Cardston a few months after their return. Jeremy enrolled at Lethbridge College where he hoped to continue his role as a student in conjunction with his roles as a husband and a father.
With hopes of balancing home, school, and work responsibilities, the Pretes jumped at the opportunity to be their own bosses by purchasing a cleaning company. Their business took off, and they were able to live comfortably. The increased workload, however, made it impossible for Jeremy to take a full class schedule. Thankfully, the work was seasonal, allowing him time to focus on school during the winter and summer semesters and complete his college courses.
This enabled Jeremy to be accepted into The University of Lethbridge psychology program. Then baby number two came along, and another beautiful daughter graced their home. This prompted Jeremy and Sarah to re-evaluate their priorities. The business sustained the family; school was put onto the back burner once again.
This pattern continued with the happy family adding two little boys over the next six years. They thrived and were able to invest lots of time into the community. Jeremy coached football, baseball, and basketball. He spent two years on the Board of Directors for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). He was one of the founding members of the Cardston Victim Services Organization and president of Cardston Citizens On Patrol group. Both Jeremy and Sarah have served faithfully in a variety of callings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They especially have enjoyed working with the missionaries.
Education within the Framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
In the fall of 2013, while attending a special Church meeting, Jeremy and Sarah learned about BYU—Idaho’s Pathway Worldwide: a low-cost education program that helps people start or return to college (see https://byupathway.lds.org). The program includes a built-in network support system that involves local service missionaries. Students are counselled to gain “learning, even by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118).
Both Jeremy and Sarah enrolled and began studies once a week in Lethbridge and online each day. The pattern of study focused on goal-setting and spiritual preparation as critical components. These approaches helped them maintain a primary focus on their family.
Jeremy found that he could manage his time and complete school assignments because he included the Lord in all aspects of his life. He explains, “I was able to finish my education because the Lord was on my side, and I was working with Him. The Lord was on my team. It doesn’t work any other way—I’ve tried.”
Sarah agreed, saying, “There have certainly been moments in our lives when the Lord wasn’t our priority, and we never could make getting an education work, but Pathway has helped us make Jesus Christ our first priority, and everything else has found a place.”
Both Jeremy and Sarah graduated from the Pathway program. This enabled Jeremy to continue his degree program with a focus in clinical counselling at BYU—Idaho. In his senior year of university, Jeremy was hired as a seminary teacher, instructing nine classes per week while also continuing to run his cleaning business. Even though he juggled many responsibilities, he was still able to achieve excellent grades until graduating in April 2017.
Since graduating, Jeremy has received certifications in mentoring, peer mediation, life coaching, and recently became licensed as a marriage and family counsellor in Alberta. In October 2017, Jeremy and Sarah sold their company and embarked on a new adventure. In January 2018 Jeremy opened a youth drop-in center and counselling office named EPIC Youth Services in Cardston. It is a resource center for social connections, personal development, counselling and coaching, and vocational and education assistance. After one year of operation, EPIC has had nearly 9000 youth visits and over 4000 hours of community volunteer work. Jeremy and Sarah have endeavored to gain an education and serve others by following the counsel of the Prophet Jacob: “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29).
Can BYU—Pathway Worldwide Help You?
At a special devotional broadcast originating from Salt Lake City on November 8, 2018, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland encouraged youth to not be afraid in overcoming obstacles to their education: “You have divine help. We are all children of God. We have divinity in us. We have potential and promise and covenant and privilege that we haven’t even begun to tap, and there are legions in heaven that are prepared to help you fulfill that destiny” (to learn more read: Marianne Holman Prescott, “Keep Pursuing Education Say Church Leaders during BYU—Pathway Worldwide Devotional” Church News, Nov. 16, 2018).
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