Alumni Resources

BGS: Bishops Get Back to the Books


After learning about BYU’s Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program five years ago, Darwin C. Rasmussen, ’04, decided to finish what he started at BYU in 1971.

Being a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ in his Oregon ward and balancing work, home, and schooling turned out to be more of a challenge than Rasmussen anticipated. Study time was an elusive commodity. But with help from his wife, he was able to slowly progress through his course work, finishing one course at a time, sometimes only one or two courses per year. “I remember thinking that if I could just make it through this one class, then I could make it through the next one, too,” he recalls.

The most compelling reason Rasmussen gave for finishing his degree was to show his children—many of whom are also BYU graduates—how much he values education.

Rasmussen received his BGS this spring, and he wasn’t the only bishop to do so. When Jason W. Petersen, ’04, from Payson, Utah, learned about the BGS program, he realized this could be the opportunity for which he had been longing. Though Petersen owned a successful small business, his dream was to go to law school. But going to graduate school would first require completion of his bachelor’s degree, a task that seemed impossible, considering his multiple roles as business owner, husband, father of three children, and bishop.

“I asked my wife if she would support my decision to finish school and become an attorney,” Petersen remembers. “She had heard many different business ideas from me over the years, but I think the idea of me finishing my schooling was one idea she had always wanted to hear.” With this support, Petersen dedicated himself to his studies and was able to complete the credit hours needed for graduation in less than a year. “I felt satisfaction with the completion of each class,” he recalls. “Then I would move on to the next class, knowing that each one would bring me one step closer to my goal. Even graduating is just another step in the process to getting into graduate school.”

Petersen is confident the work he has done to earn his bachelor’s degree will help him as he competes for placement at top law schools across the nation. “I am lucky BYU had this program,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it another way.”