CLEVELAND — As Brandon Long sits in a theology class at Truett McConnell University, Georgia Baptists are there at his side. When he’s having dinner with a faculty member, congregations are standing in the shadows as the mentoring progresses.
In these and dozens of other collegiate encounters, Long and many other young Georgia Baptists are underwriting a small portion of their higher education.
State Missionary Support Pam Schildecker, who oversees the processing of the applications for Education Commission scholarships, noted that now is the time for pastors and other church staff to consider which high school seniors they want to nominate in the fall for the Georgia Baptist Student Achievement Award.
This fall, 22 Georgia Baptist freshmen will began their studies with financial support of the Cooperative Program-funded scholarship. Recipients receive $1,000 each year for up to four years while enrolled at Brewton-Parker College, Shorter University, or Truett McConnell University. Students should apply early and do not have to commit to attending Georgia Baptist colleges.
A campus visit made all the difference
That was the case with Long, who had pretty much decided to attend Georgia Tech as an architecture intern. But that took a turn when he made a campus visit to the university tucked away in the mountains of north Georgia.
His pastor at the time, Tony Samples at Pickett’s Mill in Dallas, saw his potential and nominated Long for the scholarship. That simple gesture changed his academic pursuit and his career choice.
“Dr. Caner had spoken in my home church once so he remembered me when he saw me on campus and we had a good visit. I took a tour during my high school year and it really changed how I viewed the university.
“I can’t explain how impressed I was with the faculty and staff I met … it just felt so natural to think of myself there as a student. It did not take long before I knew this was the place God wanted me to be,” he adds.
The decision was easy from a spiritual point, but it came with an initial financial hardship.
‘Money does not matter in God’s timing’
“I knew it would cost me more to attend college there in the long term, but money does not matter in God’s timing.”
Now he knows he’s on the right campus because of his calling to pastoral ministry and his selection of a Christian Studies major.
“The faculty and staff have been amazing and have affirmed this was the right decision. I have enjoyed supper in their homes on several occasions and our relationship has evolved from professional to personal,” he states.
Then he pauses to give an example of his mother’s struggle with cancer.
“Every professor and even the president have been there to help me, encourage me, and pray with me, even after I’m done with their classes. They treat me like family, not because I’m anything special, but because I matter to them.
“They’ve even made special accommodations so that my mom can attend my band performances in a sterile environment so she doesn’t get sick. That’s going above and beyond.
“That is what I like the most about Truett McConnell.”
And that’s what other students say about attending Georgia Baptist’s three colleges – Truett McConnell, as well as Shorter University in Rome and Brewton-Parker in Mount Vernon.
Nominations open July 1, close on Nov. 1
The process begins next month – in early July – with the nominations. The Education Commission office then sends applications. Finally, a statewide committee reviews the received applications and selects recipients in January. Academic achievement is a primary consideration, but, church and community involvement also factor into the process.
Nominations may be made by downloading the nomination form at the Georgia Baptist Education Commission website. An Index story will announce when the web link is active. A downloadable, printable form will also be available in the link for those preferring to mail or fax nominations.
For more information call Schildecker at (800) 746-4422 x240 or (770) 936-5240.