Last year the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education Ministry awarded more than 2,100 students a total of $5 million in financial assistance. The students ranged from first-year freshmen to doctorate-level students across the denomination.
Some of the scholarship funding comes from United Methodist congregations supporting United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday, and Native American Sunday. The remaining funds for these awards come from gifts, annuities, and endowments GBHEM has invested and administered for decades.
One of the recipients was Magdalyn Carlson. She was raised in Peculiar United Methodist Church, where her parents sing in the praise band, and she does too, occasionally, when she’s home from college. She chose to attend Truman University because she liked the size of the school, and it fits well with her interests. She is majoring in biology with a minor in Spanish. She will graduate in the spring and has been accepted into A.T. Still University in Kirksville, where she plans to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
“I want to do mission work, and I think practicing family medicine and learning Spanish will prepare me to serve in that way,” she said.
Support from parents and scholarships have helped pay for school, and by working as a student advisor in her dormitory, she gets room and board for free. The church is a big part of her life. She has had good models for that at home.
“Mom teaches Sunday school classes and fills in preaching sometimes,” she said. In addition to singing, Carlson helps with the audio/video needs in church when she’s home.
Her advice for fellow students is to get involved in organizations early on to quickly meet people but do not get too overloaded. Her advice for parents is to give their kids some grace.
“Be understanding when plans change, like majors,” she said.
Also at Truman is Megan Acklin, a scholarship recipient from First United Methodist Church at Cole Camp. A teacher at her high school who was also Methodist encouraged her to apply for a scholarship from GBHEM, sharing that her son had received one.
Like Carlson, Acklin likes the size of Truman University and of Kirksville. She’s a freshman, currently majoring in biology, and is considering work in research or as a nutritionist. She’s still active in church at Cole Camp on her visits home. While on campus, both Carlson and Acklin are active with the Campus Christian Fellowship.
Acklin advises high school students to do a good job of preparing for the ACT and to choose their college wisely.
“Choose a college that lines up with your moral values, don’t just go for the social aspect,” she said, noting that a reputation for a party school shouldn’t be a selling point.
Mason Bartholomew’s grandfather encouraged him to apply for a scholarship through the United Methodist Church. His grandfather has since
passed, and Bartholomew is grateful for the advice and the model of his grandfather being a very active member of their church at Lamar. Bartholomew is now majoring in business at Crowder College, and scholarships have been helpful in paying the bills.
“It’s close to home, and I thought a junior college would be a great place to start my degree,” he said.
Some of the recipients of the scholarships didn’t stay as close to home. Claire Southard, a member of La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau, is a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I chose MIT because I was excited by the seemingly endless opportunities the university would provide me,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math), and MIT is one of the highest-ranked schools in the world for those disciplines.”
She’s majoring in computation and cognition (a combination of computer science and neuroscience), with an expected graduation date of May 2025.
“I plan on attending graduate school and then working in either medicine, technology, or a combination of both. Regardless of the field I ultimately find myself in, I intend to use what I’ve learned to teach and empower others,” she said.
For advice for others who are preparing for college, she urges flexibility.
“Allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by a class you didn’t expect to enjoy or new friends you meet along the way,” she said. “College is an incredible opportunity, and you’ll get the most out of it if you go in with an open mind.”
The scholarships aren’t just for undergrads. Gizel Compton of Oakton UMC has received a scholarship for Asbury Theological Seminary. She’s
originally from Texas, and El Valle District Superintendent Laura Merrill told her about the scholarship opportunity. Asbury got her attention with their motto, “The whole Bible for the whole world.”
“Their goal to train, prepare, and send us out repeats the Great Commission,” Compton said. “They show quality education rooted in a desire to dig deeper into what God’s word is.”
Compton is working on her Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. She is currently the part-time children’s director at Oakton, but this school year, she has been student teaching under the high school Biblical Studies teacher at a Christian school.
“I want to continue to pursue teaching at a high school or collegiate level, but I’ll be patient for the doors God opens,” she said. “I have a passion in my heart to show others how God uses the beauty and wonder of His word and its history to show us His grandness and love for us.”
Compton urges all students to remember where they came from.
“Through this season of change, don’t let your walk with God be put on the back burner. It’s easy to do so with the list of things to get done and the new stuff to adjust to,” she said. “Remember whose guidance and wisdom you’ve leaned on this far. He’s watching you. He’s proud of you. He loves you.”
Students who are members of The United Methodist Church may apply for a Fall 2022 GBHEM scholarship online between December 15, 2021 – March 24, 2022 at www.gbhem.org/scholarshipapplication.