2017 HELM PhD Scholars

This past Fall 2017, Higher Education & Leadership Ministries named 9 doctoral students as recipients of either the Ann E. Dickerson Scholarship or the William Gilbert & Florence Leonard Jones Scholarship.

The Dickerson Scholarship honors Ann E. Dickerson who was elected Vice-Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in August 1975. A member of the faculty of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, she died in October 1975, shortly after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. This scholarship is awarded to female members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pursuing a Ph.D. in religion.

The William Gilbert and Florence Leonard Jones scholarship recognizes members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) working towards a Ph.D. in religion, who are also currently ordained or preparing for ordination in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and who intend to provide leadership to a congregation or other agency of the church.

The recipients for the 2017-2018 academic year include:

Ann E. Dickerson Scholars

(From left to right)
  • Toni Bond Leonard, Claremont School of Theology, Religion, Ethics & Society
  • Miseon Choi, Claremont School of Theology, Practical Theology
  • Lydia Hernández-Marcial, Lutheran School of Theology, Bible Studies/Hebrew Bible
  • Leah Laird, Claremont School of Theology, Hebrew Bible
  • Ruth Schulenberg, Brite Divinity School, Pastoral Theology

William Gilbert and Florence Leonard Jones Scholars

(from left to right)
  • Nestor A. Gómez Morales, University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology, Religion and Social Change
  • José Morales Torres, Claremont School of Theology, Comparative Theology and Philosophy
  • Andrew Packman, the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, Theology
  • Laura Jean Torgerson, Graduate Theological Union, Interdisciplinary Studies

For more information about these scholarships, including application process, visit: helmdisciples.org/scholarships

2017 HELM Leadership Fellows Named

9 Disciples College First Year Students Selected as HELM Leadership Fellows

In the Fall of 2017, HELM selected 9 incoming students to join the cohort of the Leadership Fellows Program. These students were selected from an expansive pool of extremely qualified applicants. Through their mindful involvement in their schools and churches, the 9 new Fellows have successfully established themselves as leaders within their own communities. Through the Leadership Fellows Program, HELM hopes to nurture and support each Fellow’s undergraduate career to further expand on their already impressive accomplishments towards positive impact in our communities.

The 2017-2018 Cohort, listed in alphabetical order, includes:

Olivia Adams is attending DePaul University in Chicago, IL where she will study film. Olivia served on her school’s student council, was Student President of the Theater Department, and participated in the Disciples Indiana Region Youth Leadership Team, among other things. Linda McCrae, Olivia’s home pastor at Central Christian Church in Indianapolis, described Olivia as “intelligent, insightful, able to engage in mature conversation.”

McKinnon Anderson is from Mount Carmel, IL and is studying business and accounting at Eureka College. McKinnon is “always reaching out to help those in need,” according Rev. Leslie James Summers, Jr. of First Christian Church of Mt. Carmel, and “is not afraid to take charge in a loving way.” Her leadership roles include regional youth events, deacon at her home church, and Band Council President, among others.

Iris Jang is pursuing her interest in film at Chapman University.  Among many activities demonstrating her leadership, Iris interned at the Children’s Choir of the Korean American Music Academy, was a teacher for Korean Bethel Church’s kindergarten ministry, and co-captained her school’s tennis team. “Iris has such a unique perspective in life,” says her teacher, and she “made a commitment to using her talents to help other people.”

Tristan Spangler-Dunning is from Mitchellville, Iowa and is attending Chapman University while focusing on history. He served as CYF Camp President, church deacon, has preached at church and at a regional assembly, and has held lead roles at plays. Rev. McKinna Daugherty of Altoona Christian Church said that Tristan is “passionate about social just with a heart for the underdog” and that “he displays excellent leadership skills...”

Clay York is attending Transylvania University in Kentucky. Clay has been active in the Kentucky Region through youth programs and locally, serving as deacon and worship and wonder leader. Clay has also participated in church-sponsored mission trips and volunteered at the TJ Samson Hospital. Clay, according to Rev. Anne Bruce, “is well versed in what it means to live in community” thus “an easygoing but passionate leader.”

Kaylie Allen attends Bethany College in West Virginia and is interested in elementary education and psychology. National Honors Society, Drill Team Leader, Church Deacon, and General Assembly Workshop Leader are a few examples of Kaylie’s leadership roles. According to Rev. David T. Chafin of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in WV and Pa, Kaylie is “a shining example to the church and to the world.”

Linnea Blakemore is a dancer attending the University of Southern Mississippi. She has been a tutor, dance teaching assistant, served on local and short-term mission trips, and has served First Christian Church in Birmingham as a deacon, worship and wonder leader, and more. Rev. Troy A. Tatum affirms that Linnea is “a person of strong faith and integrity” and someone who “embodies what it means to be a servant-leader.”

Paulina Garcia Gonzalez is from La Jolla, California, is attending Chapman University and is interested in psychology. She has participated in mission trips sponsored by Torrey Pines Christian Church, and serves as leader of her church’s kids’ ministries. Additionally, she was captain of her school’s Varsity Swim team and Water Polo team. Paulina’s English teacher says that she “will try and try and try to make [the right thing] happen.”

Emily Swett is pursuing her interest of music education and music therapy at James Madison University. She provided leadership for various theater-related clubs at school and has counseled, and worked as cook, for various summer camps in the Capitol area. Robert K. Degges, Senior Pastor at Bethany Christian Church, says that Emily has a “desire to help others” and reaches “beyond her comfort zones to make a difference.”

The 9 incoming fellows join 14 returning fellows:

2016: Ainsley Anderson (Carthage College); Lauren Kim (Yale University); Cris Marin (Eureka College); Quinlan Pulleyking (Missouri State University); Courtney Sells (Centre College); Isabelle Smith (Georgetown University); Jordan White (Northern Kentucky University); Lydia Yang (Chapman University).

2015: Emily Benson (East Carolina University); Stephanie Caress (Chapman University); Fiyori Kidane (Texas Christian University); Jost Mata (University of Texas - Austin); Rachel Sames (Earlham College); Alex Smith (Texas Christian University).

Fellows gathered together this past November in Chicago for the annual Leadership Fellows Retreat. Students had an opportunity to strengthen their relationships to one another, converse about community, societal transformation, and global awareness, and to join in fellowship. Additionally, fellows had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Reggie Williams, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary; and, from Dr. Kelly Richmond Pope, Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy of DePaul University and director of the documentary All the Queen's Horses. Before departing Chicago, fellows worshipped with Root & Branch Church, a recent Disciples church plant in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.