Fellowships Aid Students on Spiritual Paths

April 17, 2012

The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) has accepted two Mary Baldwin students into its undergraduate fellowship program, recognizing, among other qualities, their commitment to the church, ability to connect personal faith to larger concerns in church and society, capacity for healthy engagement across cultures, communication and critical thinking skills, and personal integrity.

Holly Johnston, a sophomore from Danville, and Myriell Tyler, a junior from Suitland, Maryland, will each receive a $2,000 stipend from the Atlanta-based organization. The duo will also travel, all expenses paid, to Nashville in June for the FTE Leaders in Ministry Conference.

FTE supports gifted young leaders who are exploring ministry as vocation with both financial help and a network of support during a student’s junior or senior year of college.

Holly Johnston

College Chaplain Katherine Low nominated Johnston (at right), citing the student’s academic performance in her religion courses; her extracurricular activities, including her membership in the interfaith student group, Quest; and Johnston’s “emotional maturity and ability to express her call to ministry in the United Methodist Church in a confident, clear, respectful, and reflective manner.”

“The fact that her fellow students admire her for her personal integrity and her ability to connect her faith with the larger society informs my decision to wholeheartedly nominate Ms. Johnston for this important fellowship,” Low wrote on Johnston’s behalf.

Rev. Andrea Cornett-Scott, associate vice president for student affairs and inclusive excellence and pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, spoke on Tyler’s behalf, highlighting her involvement in both her home church and Christ Our Redeemer in Staunton, particularly her work as president of the church’s Women’s Missionary Society.

“As her freshman advisor, I watched her wrestle with how her faith commitment fit into her life as a college student,” Cornett-Scott wrote. “Her powerful witness of this journey has made an indelible mark on both her college and church communities.”

Myriell Tyler

Tyler (at right), who is majoring in psychology, hopes to earn a PhD in Christian counseling. Eventually, she wants to have her own practice and “engage in research topics pertaining to religion.”

“I am delighted and honored to be accepted as a FTE fellow,” Tyler said. “I feel like I am taking a big step onto the right path for my future, one that will open many doors and give me the opportunity to change the world.”

A double major in political science and religion, Johnston said she’s looking forward to incorporating her faith into her other passions: politics and international justice, whether that path leads her “behind the pulpit or behind a desk in a corner office.”

“I am excited about being an FTE undergrad fellow because of the opportunities that it will give me for being able to explore all my ministry options,” Johnston said. “When the word ministry is thrown into a conversation, one of the first things that pops into someone’s head is that you want to be a pastor, and within my own faith tradition, that you want to be ordained. Ministry is word that is often put into a box, so being able to explore with people from all walks of life what ministry means to them is exciting.”