"I use my faith every day in the way I treat other people and in the way I live." That's the philosophy of Gift of Hope Scholar Elizabeth Varnum, a student at Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Your gifts on United Methodist Student Day, enables The United Methodist Church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge.
Elizabeth grew up going to church every Sunday, first in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut, then at Woodbury (Connecticut) United Methodist Church, near her family home.
In her close-knit family, Elizabeth recalled, "Faith was always the most important thing in my life. I always did very well in school and loved my church family. I sometimes struggled socially, and I suffered with scoliosis.
"The church provided a second family and gave me many opportunities to lead. I was on the leadership council for youth group and did a lot for the youth and adult choirs. All of the people at church supported me and continue to be a very important part of my life."
In high school, Elizabeth was recognized both academically and for her strong character and citizenship. "What made [the awards] so special," she said, "was that I developed wonderful relationships with many teachers and worked very hard to attain success."
The young woman is grateful for the financial aid she received for her education. Her grandmother, an ordained pastor and the director of music at the Newtown/Sandy Hook United Methodist Church, told her about the scholarships supported by the annual United Methodist Student Day offering and encouraged her to apply.
"This scholarship helped to lower my monthly payments," Elizabeth said, "and made it easier for me to attend the college of my dreams. Colleges are more expensive than ever, and these scholarships truly help young Christians."
At Bentley University, she is part of the women's leadership program, which meets regularly for workshops and presentations by guest speakers. Her school, she noted, is "empowering me to be confident and strong as I learn to be an effective leader." She also plays piano for worship.
"I am part of a Christian group that meets weekly as well as a small Bible study. My faith will always be the most important priority in my life, and I will be a kind, honest business leader with integrity."
Elizabeth strives to be "a supportive person who is there for people who need a good listener," she said. "I am not materialistic; I don't drink or party, and I think that my confidence in and reliance on Jesus stand out to other people in a very positive way."
Still deciding on her path after college, she said, "I love accounting and might major in it. I plan to stay at Bentley University for a master's degree and will pursue career opportunities in the Boston area."
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.