Carrying plentiful dreams and challenges that are legion, twenty young adults from the Iringa Diocese met with the BKB Post-Secondary Scholarship Review Board on July 21.
The board, consisting of leaders from the Iringa Diocese and Saint Paul Area Synod, gathered to interview the first round of students being considered for the new BKB Post-Secondary Scholarship Program. They listened deeply and sat prayerfully with each student as they shared their aspirations and their families' stories.
The students came from across the Iringa Diocese, representing sixteen different congregations - some with US companions already and others without. One-third of those who applied were young women. With interests in subjects like Health Care, Secondary Education, Community Development, and Project Planning and Management, these are highly competent young leaders who seek to be change-makers in the world and in their home communities - individuals that will help the Iringa Diocese to fulfill its mission to serve "people created in the image of God spiritually, mentally, physically, and economically."
Academically adept, these students and their families have worked hard to pursue advanced education and the vocations to which they feel they are being called. In hearing their stories, review board members sought to understand the family situation of each applicant, their involvement with their home congregation, why they wanted to go into a particular field, the scholarship amount being asked for and what capacity the student and his or her family have to pay. One young man described the strong efforts he made in science courses in secondary school so that he'd be qualified for medical studies. The second of seven children with parents who are unable to work, he funded his first year by selling some of his land - a precious commodity. One young woman seeking a degree in education applied for a government loan but did not receive it. The fourth of ten children, she completed Form VI with high marks and thoroughly impressed the committee. And then there was the clinical officer, the pastors's daughter, and more than a dozen others.
Of the twenty students who applied, thirteen were approved for scholarship awards - some for immediate release and others pending the next meeting of the scholarship review board in October. In terms of dollars, $11,000 was awarded. And this is only the beginning...
The Iringa Scholarship and Education Committee set a fundraising goal of $30,000 for post-secondary scholarships in 2017-18. We need your help. Congregations and individuals are asked to make sustained contributions to the Post-Secondary Education fund by Sept 15. Funds on hand at that time will guide the Review Board as they make the final round of scholarship awards for this academic year. If you have any questions, contact your cluster leader
or Pastor Lynda Thompson
, chair of the Scholarship and Education Committee.
On behalf of those who have been involved in developing it, let me say how exciting it is to see this new program come to life. For two years now, leaders in Saint Paul and Iringa have been working closely to address the growing need for post-secondary education in ways that are mutual, inclusive, empowering, and sustainable. While there will undoubtedly be some missteps and lessons learned this inaugural year, we trust that this is the right next step on our shared journey and hope that you, too, will join in.
With joy and gratitude,
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop