Making Up the Difference
Rachel Oickle didn’t grow up around many other members of the Church in her home province of Nova Scotia. But when she was 12, she went to Palmyra, New York, to participate in the Hill Cumorah Pageant.
“That was the first time I was around a lot of [Church members],” she says. “And when I came home, I saw the contrast. I love my friends who aren’t members of the Church, but they weren’t always supportive of that side of me. I realized I was happier where I could accept the spiritual side.”
When it came time to choose a college, Rachel wanted to attend a Church school, but she couldn’t quite find what she was looking for at the other Church Educational System schools. “When I was looking into BYU-Idaho, I felt like it was the right thing to do,” she says. “And everything fell into place.”
Though she was surprised by how small southeast Idaho was, Rachel loved how friendly her classmates and roommates were. She loved praying in class, talking about the gospel, and being around others with similar values.
But her BYU-Idaho experience wasn’t without challenges. She served a mission after her freshman year, and when she came home, finances were tight. “I’m the second-youngest of six, so my parents aren’t able to give enough to fund all of our university [educations] and missions,” she says. “I worked all through high school and saved my money. But I messed up my student loan application my first year. When I came back from my mission, I didn’t have any money left.”
Fortunately, she was blessed by need-based financial aid. And now she’s getting closer to finishing her degree in public health and moving on to her dream of someday practicing osteopathic medicine. And although she’s working at school, she’s also had enough time to have a social life and meet her husband.
“I really needed that extra money to move forward—my parents didn’t have any way of helping me,” she says. “Donors’ contributions have made it possible for me to go to school and finish my education at BYU-Idaho.”