Mentoring others is a big part of Alexis Bazydola's life – and she's good at it, it seems.
The native of middle Tennessee is a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "I currently serve as a supervising teaching assistant with our First Year Experience program," she said. "This allows me to prepare other students to ease the transition to college for first-year students. I've been in their shoes, and I want to help make our campus a place of unity where everyone feels welcomed and safe to be themselves. I am able to share my story and help ease the transition to college that can sometimes be scary and tumultuous.
"The people in my department and in my mentoring program have taught me when to ask for help and how to empower myself to be a stronger leader."
Bazydola was baptized and confirmed in The United Methodist Church, and her home congregation is First UMC, Lebanon, Tennessee. Church, she noted, "has always been a big part of who I am. This was where we would come together as a family with friends and our community.
"The church has given me a community of supportive and strong leaders that inspire me to work hard to achieve my goals. I know that if I stumble, they are there to pick me up."
The young woman has always been on the go, and she is grateful that her stay-at-home mom helped her balance the various activities in which she wanted to participate. "I was fortunate," she said, "to have a supportive family that always looked to help me pursue my dreams. The challenges were absolutely figuring out how to get to my dreams and the path I wanted to take."
Applying for financial aid through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Bazydola received a Gift of Hope Scholarship, supported by the annual United Methodist Student Day offering. "This scholarship has allowed me to go to college and not worry about my finances," she said. "I'm able to graduate debt free because of this generous gift.
"Being a student and figuring out your life is very difficult sometimes," she admitted. "By allowing students a space where they … can be themselves without judgment, we can better equip them for their future."
Bazydola's dream is to become a general manager in a National Hockey League organization. Her faith, she said, will continue to play an important role in her life.
"In my career, there will be lots of challenges," Bazydola said, "but I know I am stronger with God on my side. He has a plan for me, and, with his grace, I will be able to see it through."
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, United Methodist Communications retiree
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.