I remember as a child how often my father would tell me that quote. He had such a passion and desire for each of his six children to further their education and receive higher learning. After all, knowledge is the one thing we can take with us after this life. There are so many reasons why I love and respect my dad. But a huge one is that he pushed us to all better our lives and circumstances so that we would be in positions later on to serve those around us.
Growing up we had the unique chance to travel and see different parts of the world, specifically to get to know other cultures and introduce us to the vast opportunities available if we work hard enough. My five brothers and I all started working on our family farm at a very young age. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but what an incredible lesson we were able to learn, not only of the value of hard work, but also the beginnings of money management. After every paycheck we would meet with our mom and dad and immediately put aside 10% of our earnings as tithing for our church. Then we would take another 50% of what was left and put it directly into our savings account for college. The last 40% of our check was ours to decide what we wanted to do with, whether that was saving for a school function, trip, or toys, etc. I remember that saving for college was simply a given. That each of us children were going to go to college, no matter the sacrifices, it was just that important.
Through guidance and an extreme amount of financial and emotional support from my parents, I was able to graduate from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors in Science for Elementary Education and two different minors in Music and TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language.) I was also able to do two different study abroad experiences; one in Mukono, Uganda and the other in Auckland, New Zealand. Along with myself, each of my brothers have also graduated from BYU, except for my youngest brother, Bradley, currently finishing his Bachelors at BYUI. Three of my brothers have also gone on to finish their Master's degrees, with another brother entering his Master's program in the Fall. I think it's safe to say that my parent's wishes of us pursuing a higher education have come true.
What I love most about all of this, are the motives my parents had in these desires. They didn't want us to get degrees so we could own larger homes or fancier cars. Their desires were for us to be financially stable and independent so we could better serve those around us. So our circumstances in life would allow for extended service and resources within our church. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and lessons my parents provided and the importance they placed on getting an education.
Ten years ago, when my dad was released from his calling as a Stake President for our church, he decided to go back to school and finish his degree. After deciding to leave college at BYU a couple years before graduating to help build the family farm, Dad spent many years with a desire to return and finish his education. With the growing convenience of online courses through BYU, he was able to take a couple classes each year while still working full time at the family business. Looking back at the last 10 years of my Dad's journey and all he's had going on in his life, I laugh at the "trials" I had while in college myself; where my main focus was making it to class on time and having a broken heart every now and again. Over the course of finishing his college education this last decade, my dad has had three children go on missions, three children get married, several international and domestic business trips (including one to North Korea), several friends, two of his grandchildren, and his mother have passed away, and he has undergone two different deep tissue brain surgeries. Through it all he's pressed forward with his studies, until this past April 25th when he graduated with his Bachelors in General Studies from Brigham Young University at the age of 63.
To help celebrate this amazing accomplishment, four of my brothers and I flew to Utah to surprise dad for his BYU graduation. We all greatly missed my youngest brother, Bradley, who wasn't able to make it since he had already started his spring classes at BYUI. I was telling my friend, Whitney, how excited I was to surprise my dad, and she mentioned she was wanting to make a trip out to Utah as well to visit her mom. We thought it would be much more fun to travel together, so we made sure we were on the same flight into Salt Lake City. It was so much fun to travel with her and the girls. I was going through serious Daxton withdrawals and loved the chance to help with her kiddos on the plane. Brooke and Macy did awesome quietly watching shows or playing games throughout the two different flights we took. They were perfect travel buddies!