How one U.S. college is using a radical new program to reach students around the world

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26 2013 8:40 p.m. MDT

While the program was initially designed to instill hope in younger students, this semester, 54 percent of Pathway students are over the age of 30.

Like Dennis Nesbit, 69, and his son, Dennis Nesbit Jr., 39.

The father-and-son duo have similar stories, decades apart. Both went to college before their LDS missions, then returned and got married. As children joined their families, they veered into full-time work and formal education got pushed aside. Now, they're studying together to finish their degrees.

"When he wanted to do it, I couldn't not come with him," said the junior Nesbit, looking over at his dad. "It's definitely a sacrifice, but I think my kids know what I'm doing, and if nothing else, it teaches them how important it is to just get it done, because you'll benefit from it later."

Earl Bolton, 67, is already benefitting from his classes, and it's only been a few weeks. He's learned that his study habits need some massaging — like bigger chunks of time devoted to single subjects instead of a varied study hour.

Like many others, Bolton never finished his degree as a young student, opting to stay in a job that had just given him a pay raise and offered a comfortable career — not really possible today without a college degree or other training, he acknowledged.

"I thought it might be good for the grandkids if I finished," Bolton says, "give them an incentive to go to college."

As class in the high school seminary building finishes, the older students pack their bags and begin filtering out.

Cruz sits for a moment longer in her desk, almost hesitant to leave.

"It's still a challenge for me ... a struggle to communicate," she says, her eyes growing misty. "But I feel so blessed to be here."

Editor's Note: This article originally stated that in Mexico students were charged $40 per credit hour. The story has been changed to reflect the correct amount, which is $35.

sisraelsen@deseretnews.com

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