North Carolina biology major grateful for Gift of Hope

GOH recipient poses in front of park during Christmas. Courtesy photo.
GOH recipient poses in front of park during Christmas. Courtesy photo.

Growing up on her family’s farm in Stony Point, North Carolina, Summer Lackey enjoyed loving and caring for animals, spending time outdoors and interacting with her family and friends. The oldest daughter of Daniel and Andrea Lackey, Summer has a younger sister named Hannah.

Marvin United Methodist Church and its sister church, Bethel United Methodist Church, have helped me to establish and grow in my relationship with Christ,” Summer said. “Some of its leaders have become important to me in my Christian journey. They have helped me learn more about Christ and have given me important life advice.

As a teen, she added, “I found joy in helping others through my church and community service-related activities. I attended public schools and had the privilege of attending an early college and high school program at Mitchell Community College.” But always having work to do on the farm and being unable to do fun activities with her family or go on vacation proved challenging, Summer admitted.

Today, the Gift of Hope Scholar attends Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. “I love Lenoir-Rhyne,” Summer said, “and feel it is where God wants me to be. I am majoring in biology because I find the complexity of life so fascinating. I hope to attend Lenoir-Rhyne’s physician-assistant school after I graduate.”

Summer Lackey mends a fence on family farm. Courtesy photo. 
Summer Lackey mends a fence on family farm. Courtesy photo.

The high achiever was excited to join the Lineberger Fellows, a campus academic program.  “This program,” Summer noted, “has provided me with connections with amazing peers and professors, shown me ways to better myself and provided opportunities like a recent trip to New York City. I feel blessed by the opportunity to be in this prestigious program.” She is a lab assistant, a course assistant, the publicist for the Lineberger Fellows and a member of the Christian organization CRU.

She considers United Methodist Student Day Sunday an investment in the church’s future. “It is important for current generations to support the hopes and dreams of future generations,” Summer said.

As a physician assistant, she said, she will pray daily for guidance on the best ways to care for patients. “I will also pray for the right words to say if they are concerned or seem to be having a bad day. I want to help people get healthier and cheer them.”

Summer tries to make small differences that might make a big impact – volunteering at the local food closet, doing service activities with her church youth group and going on a mission trip to Oklahoma to rebuild fences destroyed by wildfires. “I also make a difference by raising awareness and informing others about farming-related issues,” she said.

Her goals include graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. “After that,” she said, “I want to attend Lenoir-Rhyne University’s physician-assistant school. I will then work as a physician assistant. I hope to have my own small farm one day and continue to help my parents continue to run the family farm.”

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from 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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