Faith and Hard Work Help Chilean Student Overcome Challenges
"I didn't have fifty thousand dollars, but I had more faith than ever."
Adriana “Adri” Reyes Miranda wanted to attend an LDS Church university ever since serving with sister missionaries in her hometown of Constitución, Chile. But that desire was tempered by a devastating earthquake, a rejected college application, a denied visa, and other unforeseen challenges.
On February 27, 2010, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake occurred near Constitución. The quake—the sixth largest ever recorded—trapped Adri and her mother in their bedroom.
“The earthquake was very strong,” said Adri, “and the only thing we could do was cry to the Lord for help. I remember thinking that if a tsunami came, we would have no escape. Soon, a neighbor kicked open our door and told us to run to the hills. We found others already there. A tsunami hit soon after, destroying the seafront and city center, killing 350 people.
For several weeks, Adri worked with ward members and sister missionaries to help people in the city. “My good memories of the tragedy are due to the outpouring of love that followed,” said Adri.
Soon after the earthquake, Adri applied for admission to BYU-Idaho. She was overjoyed to receive a letter of acceptance, only to have her dreams dashed the next day by a letter of rejection. Confused, Adri asked a friend in the United States for help. After some checking, a clerical error was discovered and Adri was admitted to the university.
Adri and her family worked hard to provide the $4,000 required for international students. But when she went to get her visa, she was told she needed $50,000—the estimated total cost of a U.S. education. “That was shocking,” said Adri, “but everyone told me to not give up. I worked harder, spent more time with my mother, helped in my home ward, and continued to accompany the missionaries in their work. I knew I needed to align my will with the Lord’s will.”
In a few months, Adri returned to the embassy. “I didn’t have $50,000 but I had more faith than ever,” she said. “I was willing to submit to whatever the Lord wanted for me.” To her great joy, she was granted a visa.
In September 2012, Adri finally boarded a plane and flew to Salt Lake City. Upon leaving the airport, the car she was riding in was involved in an accident. “Getting to North America had been so hard that I found myself doubting my decision to come,” said Adri. “I felt so vulnerable.”
Relying on the sage advice of her bishop who encouraged her to remember her sacrifices, Adri pressed on. She said, “When I arrived in Rexburg, saw the campus, and felt the spirit that surrounds this university, I knew I was in the right place. That memory will always give me courage to keep going. It reminds me that opposition can be followed by great blessings.”
That memory helped her through the next four months of her inability to get a job. Once again, her hard work and faith paid off. Adri earned a 4.0 GPA and landed a custodial job to help her pay for school. “I had received a small grant for which I am grateful,” said Adri, “but an academic scholarship has been my goal. It motivated me to sacrifice other things for my studies.” Adri must earn high grades for two semesters before she can apply for a scholarship.
“My education at BYU-Idaho is helping me prepare to be self-reliant,” said Adri. “The teachings go far beyond the classroom. They help me rise to my potential—not only at school but wherever I go.”
Adri dreams of making great discoveries in molecular medicine and finding new cures for diseases. She also hopes to be a mother and someday teach at a university. “I know it will be hard,” she said, “but it is possible. Science helps people change their lives for the better. I have learned that difficult things can be accomplished with hard work and faith in the Lord.”
Adri’s grant and future scholarships depend on funding provided by individuals like you. Please visit byui.edu/giving. Your donation of any amount will help bless others like Adri at BYU-Idaho.