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Clemson student focuses on bioethics and health care education

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

“The United Methodist Church,” said Kendra Gordillo, “has helped me grow into a more powerful leader and a more faithful version of myself. Most of my biggest leadership opportunities have been through the church. The UMC has inspired a fight for justice in myself, and I hope to do that through bioethics and health care education.”

Now a Gift of Hope scholar at Clemson University in South Carolina, Kendra grew up in New England. She is a member of Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The Gift of Hope Scholarship is supported by your gifts on United Methodist Student Day, enables The United Methodist Church to supports the Gift of Hope Scholarship so that students can prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge.

Kendra described her formative years as “pretty stereotypical.” She spent lots of time outdoors exploring and enjoyed summers at the beach. As she neared high school graduation, the young woman began seeking scholarship opportunities through The United Methodist Church. “I went looking for scholarships I thought I would have some sort of connection to, and the church has been a huge connection for me,” she said.

She continued, “I have always been fascinated by science, a field where a college degree is a bare-minimum requirement. Clemson was one of my top choices, mainly because of the unique genetics major. However, it was also one of the most expensive. Adding in mandatory labs, the cost jumped quickly.

“This scholarship has allowed me to pursue my dream school and dream major with a decreased burden, and I am forever grateful for that.”

In South Carolina, Kendra is active at Clemson United Methodist Church. She co-coordinates Clemson Wesley’s biggest weekly worship, Evensong, which regularly draws more than 80 people. She is also part of the Wesley Foundation board that oversees Clemson Wesley.

Investing in students is one of the best ways to invest in society, Kendra believes. “Going to college will open doors and broaden horizons,” she said, “and for some people, this seems more like a dream than reality. Helping students go to college, or making college more affordable, will encourage everyone to get an education and grow in their understanding of the world. They will be able to give back to the church once they have graduated, and then be able to invest in the next generation of leaders, creating a positive cycle of education, prosperity and giving.” 

Kendra has big plans for the future. She wants to go to graduate school for a master’s in bioethics and, possibly, earn a juris doctor law degree. “I am hoping to be involved in policy and translate this work to The United Methodist Church as well, since global health has been a priority for the church for decades,” she said.

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Student Day calls the church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. The special offering provides scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants. 

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