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Growing up fast in America

Gift of Hope Scholarship recipient Emma Musto had a somewhat difficult childhood. When her parents divorced, she and her brother were blessed to be surrounded by a loving church family and a strong, loving mother.

Their mother made sure, despite their situation, that they were always involved in church activities. "It was hard growing up faster than my friends," Emma said, "but with my faith in God, I knew all would be good in the end."

Despite the pain in her family life, Emma experienced joy on a Mission of Peace trip to China in her sophomore year of high school.

Through her connection with Lenoxville United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania, Emma blossomed into a strong woman. Attending summer camps since she was 6 years old, she found strength through camp activities to help her deal with challenges in her life.

"Going to church conferences and being a part of the conference council on youth ministries of the Wyoming Annual Conference and the Young Peoples Ministry Committee of the Susquehanna Annual Conference, I learned lot about myself, and those places are where I have my fondest memories."

Her pastor at Lenoxville UMC introduced her to the Gift of Home scholarship. "One pastor and I got really close after a 'God's call' event I attended, and she became a big supporter through my education in high school and college."

While attending Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, Emma struggled with being away from her support system. She found another support system in a sorority. "They have become my family and my best friends," she said. "They support me in all I do. They have brought me closer to Christ by testifying with me."

Emma hopes to become a school social worker or a pastor. "My school has given me so many opportunities to do things hands on in my career fields," Emma said. She has participated in internships and research projects that allowed her to combine her two concentrations: sociology and religion.

Thanks to your gifts on United Methodist Student Day, you have made a significant difference in Emma's life. "This scholarship has changed my life in ways that I could never have expected," she said. "I am eternally grateful for this scholarship because, without it, I don't think I would be able to afford a private education."

She is a strong advocate for United Methodist Student Day.

"The church should support United Methodist Student Day," she said, "because we are the future church. With gifts to United Methodist Student Day, we students can give back to the church that gave us so much."

As Emma contemplates her future, she will use her faith to guide her. "With my social work degree," she said, "I know God will guide me in all the hard decisions, and no matter what happens, he will be there to help me."

Emma participated in a research study to help other students become more open-minded about nontraditional families based on religious attitudes.

By working at day cares and trying to set a positive example for growing minds, Emma gets practice in her field. "Going to school in an impoverished area," she said, "[these] children really need strong role models."

Emma hopes to earn her master's degree in social work and, possibly, attend seminary. "I hope to get my doctorate to be a professor or a missionary," she said. "But for now, my main goal is to keep my faith and serve God every day."

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.

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