Gift of Hope Scholar gives back

Morgan Murdock's faith has informed every aspect of her life, from her upbringing to her education and community service to her ultimate career path.

"I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a household with both parents very devoted to their faith. My parents have been involved with a church since they were children, and they made sure to keep that consistent with me," she said.

Growing up in Collierville, Tennessee, Murdock's childhood wasn't without its challenges, but she said her faith helped her through even the most difficult times.  

"My faith was the one thing that did and still does help me through it all," she said.

In addition to participating in sports and theater, Murdock was very involved with the Collierville United Methodist Church choir and youth groups. Her time at church also sparked her passion for community service.

"The United Methodist Church engrained in me from an early age that working with your community is very important in spreading Christian love and, ultimately, the Gospel."

In high school, Murdock served breakfast to the homeless each month at a church downtown, exposing her to the needs in her community. When she got to North Carolina State University in Raleigh, she sought out similar work.

The civil engineering major cofounded a local chapter of the Food Recovery Network, a program that works with the school's dining hall to take leftover food to a homeless shelter near campus.

"We are working to fight hunger as well as food waste through this organization, and we are planning to expand this to several dining halls and shelters in the area," she said.

Receiving the Gift of Hope scholarship helped Murdock pay for her education and also encouraged her to apply for other grant and scholarship opportunities to further her community service endeavors.

"One great item that I ended up receiving was a grant to afford more bins to serve a greater amount of food to the homeless," she said.

That same money also helped fund a trip to Atlanta to work with the Medici Project, which connects students with community service groups and encourages them to think about the roots of poverty.

"I was exposed to issues with the elderly, the homeless, the Hispanic community, and inner-city elementary school children. There was so much need in the area, and I realized that education is the core of many issues of poverty. From this, I have valued my education more, encouraged more of my friends to appreciate their opportunities, and helped tutor others in the community," she said.

Murdock urges congregations to continue their generous giving on United Methodist Student Day to support the education of young United Methodists.  

"Through giving on this day, you are reminding and encouraging students of all majors and walks of lives to remain constant in their faith and to continue to uphold the great qualities that The United Methodist Church has instilled in us. The church has shown me so much unconditional love over the years in many forms, and this was a very meaningful form of that love. I was encouraged to pursue more in my community and remember the church that helped make me who I am," she said.

Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, 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.