There Was a Plan for Me, Though I Wasn’t Aware of It

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Barbara M. Smith

Associate Clinical Professor, Counseling Psychology and Special Education


The desire for learning was planted in my heart long before I realized it. In my youth I was inclined to ask questions, interact with different people, see new places, learn new skills, and seek more experiences. I loved to read and take classes and participate in groups and projects. I thirsted for knowledge and then wanted to share it with others. As far back as first grade I remember helping my classmates to enjoy learning.

As time went on I was given more opportunities for education. Classes were energizing to me and I excelled. Thinking, pondering, and coming up with new ideas is something I have always enjoyed. Science classes, where I learned about our world, and people, were some of my favorites. I prepared to attend a state college with the goal of becoming a pediatrician, but later I was led in a slightly different direction.

During high school, through reading, studying, and living the gospel, I was converted to the church. My focus became learning the scriptures and words of the prophets. Brigham Young stressed the value of getting an education, especially for women because, he said, they would be the primary teachers of all the children. In recent years President Hinckley has also encouraged women to get as much education as possible. As I have followed this counsel it has blessed my life. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to study and learn. I feel that my education has influenced my life more than anything else except my testimony of the Great Plan of Happiness! It has enabled me to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, etc.

My plan changed and I came to BYU as a freshman where I have had the most wonderful learning experiences. I earned a BS with a double major in Elementary Education and Special Education after which I taught school for three years. During that time I was married and started graduate school. I completed an MS in Educational Psychology a year after my first son was born. For the next season in my life I focused on teaching our five children and worked part time at BYU. When my children were older, and in school all day, I returned to teaching full- time. I still love coming to BYU every day to learn and progress and help others. Now my children are grown and I recently enrolled in a doctoral program and the program is very fulfilling to me. I continue to be blessed as I learn.

When I look back over my life I can see there was a plan for me, though I wasn’t aware of it. God gave me gifts of faith and learning and I am using them to accomplish some of his work. I have been able to contribute in important ways to building the kingdom. My example and commitment to education has had a powerful effect on my children. I have influenced hundreds of teachers and schools and students. I have not always been able to do everything I wanted to, but this has taught me patience and given me a better perspective. I have gained wisdom; I have learned that there are seasons, and time for every purpose under heaven.

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