Gift of Hope Scholar combines faith and counseling

Growing up in a loving and supportive family, Cassidy Awalt learned to be responsible from her parents who worked hard to make sure her and her brother had everything they needed.

As a child, Cassidy enjoyed school and tumbling, a sport she began at age 3. She loved her home in the country and playing outside with her best friend who lived in her neighborhood.

In the fifth grade, Cassidy was injured in a paintball accident that left her with limited eyesight in her right eye. Fortunately, she had a strong faith to lean on in challenging times.

"I have always been supported, held accountable and lifted up in prayer by my fellow church members," Cassidy says of her "faith family" at Centenary United Methodist Church in Effingham, Ill., where she was a regular at Sunday school and vacation bible school and participated in the kids' choir.

Because of this loving environment, Cassidy decided to pursue a career in counseling.

"I am always in remembrance of God's grace that the United Methodist church has taught me…," she says.

Thanks to her associate pastor, Cassidy learned about the United Methodist Student Day Scholarship. "I was grateful to find out that I had received the scholarship to help with my schooling funds. It was a financial relief."

While attending Greenville College in Greenville, Ill., Cassidy was able to travel to Israel with a group of students and faculty. The trip allowed to her see firsthand the land where Jesus walked. "The experience has furthered my knowledge on the Bible and my faith in Jesus. It was an amazing opportunity that I reflect upon daily."

When asked why the church should support the UMSD, Cassidy replied, "When baptizing someone, the church agrees to help the person grow in his or her faith. Members also agree to uphold the church through their presence, gifts and prayers." 

Cassidy credits her school for preparing her to be equipped in her chosen field of counseling. With hands on experiences in her field of study, she is confident that she will succeed in her chosen career. "Something that I will take away into my future career is how to incorporate faith and the Bible into counseling".

Cassidy plans to pursue her master's degree in counseling and become a licensed counselor.

"Whether I am working in a Christian or secular environment, my faith will impact myself as a counselor in regards to how I carry myself and interact with people," she says.

"I love working with children and youth. My hope is that God is using me to minster to those younger than I and help them all grow in their faith and knowing the Lord."

Lladale Carey, web content producer, United Methodist Communications

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. 

When you give generously on United Methodist Student Day, you support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. Give now.