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Ethnic Minority Scholar focuses on 'paying it forward'

Kaelin Travis strives to live as if every day matters. The student at Alcorn State University, Lorman, Mississippi, is grateful for her "extremely supportive family" who constantly motivates and pushes her to succeed. She is the oldest of two daughters.

"I am very passionate about whatever I get involved in. At times," Kaelin admitted, "this causes me grief because I want others to be just as passionate as I am, and this is not always the case."

Her home congregation at St. Paul United Methodist Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, provides lots of encouragement and guidance. In fact, Kaelin said, '"one of my church members and close family friends told my mother about the Ethnic Minority Scholarship and suggested that I apply.

"I still have church members connecting me to people who help further my studies and opportunities while at Alcorn," she added.

The Ethnic Minority Scholarship, Kaelin said, "lessened the financial burden on my parents and allowed me to continue to concentrate on my studies."

She loves traveling to different places and meeting new people. Among Kaelin's most memorable college experiences were the opportunity to study in Costa Rica, joining the university cheer squad and becoming a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Also active in Girls Coalition, Manners, Future Farmers of America and the National Society of Leadership and Success, Kaelin has worked on projects with each group throughout the school year.

"I volunteer at cheer camps hosted by my cheer squad," Kaelin said. "I also participate in various community-service projects hosted by my sorority as well as the other organizations of which I am a part."

She is thankful for the United Methodists who give generously on World Communion Sunday.

"Supporting the World Communion Sunday offering," she said, "helps students like me realize our educational aspirations. Knowing there are people out there willing to give to help students like me is truly a blessing."

The future soil conservationist is majoring in agriculture.

"My professors really care about me and my success," Kaelin said. "They constantly expose me to real-world situations that will, no doubt, help me once I graduate from college. Working as a research assistant in the biotech lab helps me gain hands-on experiences and gives me a firsthand view of how my major can make a worldly difference."

She continued, "Sharing with the less fortunate has been instilled in me for as long as I can remember. I believe my faith and caring nature is the reason so many people have been willing to help. I believe in paying it forward and look forward to the day that I, too, can support up-and-coming college students."

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, United Methodist Communications retiree

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, World Communion Sunday calls the church to reach out to all people and model diversity among God's children. The special offering provides World Communion Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.

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