Sydney Pelichet's educational path is a testament to the connectional ministries of The United Methodist Church. Today, the 21-year-old is a rising senior at Dillard University – one of 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) – and a Lina H. McCord intern with the United Methodist Black College Fund.
Her journey started with a few key mentors at church.
Pelichet grew up attending Wesley United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There, fellow church members and Dillard alumnae Juanita Johnson and Betty Johnson first peaked Pelichet's interest in the university.
"It was around senior year in February and I wasn't sure about a school, but they assured me that Dillard was for me and encouraged me to apply," said Pelichet.
A week later, Pelichet and her mother, who also briefly attended Dillard, visited the school. She soon decided that Dillard "was her first and only choice."
Though her mother and church family influenced her decision, Pelichet was most attracted to the faithful, close-knit community at the university. It felt like home to her and she quickly expanded her church community on campus.
"When I was discouraged or stressed out about anything I would go to church for support," she said.
Dillard's chapel is also where she met friends, formed relationships and found a new mentor, Rev. Earnest Salsberry, the university's chaplain.
Salsberry encouraged her to apply for financial support through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church.
"It was because of him that I received Methodist scholarships and other opportunities," said Pelichet.
One of those opportunities was the chance to intern with the Black College Fund (BCF), which is administered by GBHEM. The fund was established in 1972 and supports the 11 United Methodist-related HBCUs. Pelichet recently completed a week-long intensive training in Nashville, Tennessee to become a BCF Lina H. McCord intern.
"I learned so much about the good works The United Methodist Church does for college students through the Black College Fund," she said.
McCord interns serve as goodwill ambassadors for the Black College Fund and its member colleges. For five to six weeks every summer, they travel to numerous annual conferences to promote the BCF and explain its impact to the United Methodist congregations that support it.
As Pelichet begins her summer travels, she is excited by the opportunity to inspire other young students in the same way that her own United Methodist mentors encouraged and inspired her.
Jessica Love, writer and editor, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.