Music therapy is the career goal of Julie Nitkowski, a Gift of Hope Scholar attending Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. The young woman, from Mickleton, New Jersey, has fond memories of attending weekly worship at Trinity United Methodist Church, Mullica Hill, Pennsylvania, with her parents and sister.
“My life growing up,” Julie recalled, “was possibly the best someone could ever ask for. I have very loving parents who support and love me, and my sister is my best friend. They all push me to be the best I can be, and throughout my whole life, they have always been there for me.”
She has appreciated having her family present on every step of her life journey.
“A challenge would be them pushing me,” she said. “For me personally, it’s hard to push myself and step out of my comfort zone.”
Her church has long provided “a sanctuary in which I was able to be active in a flourishing youth and Sunday school program,” Julie added. She participated in five mission trips with more than 30 other youth.
As Julie began considering higher education, she researched the United Methodist website and found various scholarship offerings. She was thrilled to receive a Gift of Hope Scholarship, supported by United Methodist Student Day offering.
“This scholarship,” Julie said, “has helped me so much by giving me the resources to attend college. [It] has been a blessing that has set the path for me to attend Elizabethtown College and not only be part of a great music therapy program, but also attend a school with many faith- following students.”
As a first-year student, Julie was surprised to be allowed to observe clinics conducted by music therapy students. “It is very powerful,” she said, “something I won’t forget.”
She noted that her “school is very much preparing me for my future career of being a music therapist. They are already putting us into sessions with clients, even providing us with activities in the community that are involved with our career. The school has made me feel very prepared and ready for the future.”
Julie’s faith played a big role as she considered a future vocation.
“I believe God has blessed me with the talents of serving,” she said. “I love children and music. I will be able to use my faith and commitment to God, along with my experience in The United Methodist Church, to serve those in need with music therapy.”
She hopes to make a difference in the world through music therapy. “With this,” Julie explained, “I can heal people with music, not just medicine. Music is so powerful and can help someone’s needs and goals be accomplished in a therapeutic setting.” She is especially interested in working with adults or children with Down syndrome or autism through music therapy. She also hopes to be fully be involved with a church.
“The church,” Julie said, “should support United Methodist Student Day to allow students who may not have the resources to attend college while supporting others who are struggling in the environment. We also should support United Methodist Student Day to extend spiritual hope across the world.”
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.