North Carolina college student Lucy Kennedy learned a lot from her mother growing up: the value of hard work, the importance of an education and the need to persevere with a positive attitude, even during difficult times.
Money was often tight after her parents' divorce, but she continued to look on the bright side.
"My mom always says we are rich in health and happiness, which are priceless elements in life," Kennedy says.
She says her mom's work ethic pushed her to focus on her own education and service to others. She worked hard to maintain good grades, while also finding time to get involved in her community, school and church. She credits her "family" at Jamestown United Methodist Church with strengthening her values and beliefs.
"When I became a member in sixth grade … my heart was opened up to the incredible love of the entire United Methodist congregation. Through all my joys, JUMC has celebrated my accomplishments. Through my hardships, my church family has embraced me and continued to show me that God has an amazing plan in store for me."
That plan has led her to High Point University, a United Methodist-affiliated institution in North Carolina, where Kennedy is studying to be an elementary school teacher.
She says she is "deeply appreciative" of the United Methodist Student Day Gift of Hope Scholarship she received to help pay for her education.
"I am forever blessed for the benevolent hearts that have provided the funds for this scholarship. … In an ever-evolving society where financial resources are essential and also limited, I call upon Benjamin Franklin's words regarding education, 'An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,' " she says.
"I vow to represent the United Methodist Church as an ambassador of God's goodwill."
Kennedy already is doing that with the groups and activities she is involved with at High Point, including her work as president of the university's Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, which participates in public service projects, and tutoring fellow students. She plans to continue on that path after she graduates.
"I want to instill in children the love of learning and knowledge that I was taught as a child…," she says. "The heart of a great education is God. As Jesus taught others about Jesus, it is my duty as a Christian to teach children about God and his incredible works through my actions and my genuine interest in seeing each student succeed."
She says the church has fueled her passion to teach by giving her opportunities to work with kids in the nursery, at vacation Bible school and sports camps and through local school programs.
"I have had the best blessing in my life of being raised at such an amazing church. The vast age range of the members, from infants to 90-year-old elders, has taught me the true value of what a church should be. I am so grateful to call myself part of God's United Methodist Church."
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, 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.