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Gift of Hope Scholar yearns to be an educator

Being an older sister is a big responsibility, but Gift of Hope scholar Elie Brantley remembers good times and bad. With a strong father figure and a gentle mother, Elie often was left in charge of her younger brother and sisters.

Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Elie was also surrounded by a loving church family. A lifelong member of Shandon United Methodist Church, Elie was blessed by a supportive congregation. Her close-knit family participated actively in church activities. She and her sibling also enjoyed playing games, building forts, participating in church lock-ins and skiing on the lake.

"I took on a lot of responsibility that I probably didn't need to," Elie recalled. "I felt that it was part of my job as an older sister." Even though she faced some challenges growing up, Elie also remembers that those around her appreciated her. "The joy is the respect that I have gained from my siblings, parents and the adults who [saw] me take the initiative. I also enjoyed having two younger siblings to boss around when Mom and Dad left me in charge.

"I still enjoy this," she admitted.

Thanks to your gifts on United Methodist Student Day, Elie received a Gift of Hope Scholarship and was able to attend a private liberal arts college to pursue a teaching career. At Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Elie continued to receive the love and support of her church family by texts, phone calls, care packages and visits. "I am confident that my church family will always be the wind in my sails," she said.

"Wofford is a United Methodist school that balances the liberal arts education that I have longed for since high school," she said.

At Wofford College, Elie is constantly challenged to exceed her boundaries. The school is "pushing me to think harder, question more and … really understand the world around me," she added.

As a teacher, Elie hopes to bring God and religion into the classroom. "There are too many good works of the literature that can be studied and analyzed that are prohibited in public schools," she said. Elie hopes to empower students to question and explore what they believe and never to stop wondering.

At Wofford, Elie kept herself busy with leadership projects in her sorority and introduced the first dance marathon, raising more than $5,000 for local Children's Miracle Network hospitals. The money helped support the Greenville Children's Hospital's child-life specialist program. "My team and I worked outrageously hard," she said, "to make the event as amazing as possible."

Elie wants to continue to make a difference in the world. "I hope by starting with my own community and those around me," she said, "I can better the world as a whole."

Elie wants to teach on the high school level. "My overall goal would be to get a Ph.D. in creative writing or British literature," she said.

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. 

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