The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and Discipleship Ministries, two agencies of The United Methodist Church, have teamed up to host a joint online scholarship application process for international students. Amos Nascimento, associate general secretary of global education at GBHEM, and Michael Ratliff, associate general secretary of Young People’s Ministries (YPM) at Discipleship Ministries, talked with Danecia Jones in the Office of Communications at GBHEM to offer more information about the international scholarship opportunities.
Jones: Tell us about your respective scholarship programs.Nascimento: Through the Grants and Scholarships Program (GRASP) of the Methodist Global Education Fund for Leadership Development (MGEFLD), GBHEM promotes leadership development opportunities for students in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America. GRASP focuses especially on United Methodist-related schools, colleges, and universities and theological seminaries in Africa. We support talented students who come from Methodist churches, and show great promise to have a significant impact in their local communities. By supporting these students, GBHEM helps The United Methodist Church to achieve its goal of preparing a new generation of leaders to serve the church and society.
Ratliff: The Young People’s Ministries’ Self and Smith scholarship funds are restricted to the U.S. As a global agency serving a global church, we felt responsible to provide a resource for international students enrolling in schools, colleges and universities in their home countries. The Global Scholarship Fund (GSF) financially assists United Methodist students who are enrolled in institutions outside the U.S. Need-based, the scholarship fund gives students, who may not have had a chance otherwise, an opportunity to pursue higher education.
Jones:What prompted you to join forces on the joint application process?Nascimento: Through interagency collaboration and the joint online application process, we create greater accessibility for students and have a greater impact on people’s lives. The joint application is our way of optimizing resources while providing more efficient service and using the latest technologies. This also enables each agency and our partners to exchange information about who is applying for scholarships, how they develop and how we can be more proactive in our granting initiatives.
Ratliff: Discipleship Ministries has partnered with GBHEM since the launch of the GSF scholarship, as GBHEM’s Office of Loans and Scholarships holds the scholarship funds on our behalf. As we reviewed the application process, we wanted to make it easier and more streamlined for our students. Discipleship Ministries and GBHEM were targeting a similar audience, so it only made sense to pair the two within one application process. We are providing greater access to more opportunities for our applicants.
Jones: How will the joint application benefit and impact students?Nascimento: Applicants from other global regions, especially from Africa, will have a one-stop shop, where they can find reliable information on available grants and scholarships. The very fact that these applications are available online makes the application process easier and allows a better overview of the process. There is also a pedagogical component because the application requires more responsibility, accountability, and transparency from students, thus preparing them to become ethical and reliable leaders, as well as good stewards in their local communities.
Ratliff: The biggest impact to students within this application process is access to opportunities. The online application opens students to a world that they would not have had access to otherwise. Not only does it open them up to learn about available funding for education, once they are aware of the process, they learn of the many other resources available through our church and agencies. It provides students with an opportunity to pursue higher education, which many times is not available to them without financial assistance.
Jones: Are there other scholarships or programs offered by each agency that would benefit from the joint process? Nascimento: GBHEM offers a series of scholarships through its Office of Loan and Scholarships, many of which are financed through restricted funds. The dialogue involving the joint application is another benefit that will lead to the expansion of services with more flexibility.
Ratliff: We will continue conversations so that we take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Our ongoing communication helps us foster ongoing collaboration, which helps us to maximize our resources and their impact. The need for these scholarships significantly outweighs the resources we have to offer. The church’s giving is vitally important to the scholarship funds and the help we can provide. We need everyone’s financial support to maintain and grow the scholarship funds.
The deadline for the YPM’s Global Scholarship Fund application is March 1, 2017. Students have until March 15, 2017, to apply for GBHEM’s GRASP. Anyone interested can apply at https://aim.applyISTS.net/GlobalScholarships.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.