“It was a Friday afternoon, and I was getting off work,” Melissa Blemur, a freshman pre-nursing student, said as she recalled the moment she received word of her financial situation from Andrews University, an Adventist school in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.
Her academic advisor had called with the promise of good news and proceeded to let her know that she was a recipient of the President’s Student Scholarship Fund.
Melissa recounts, “I thank God that I was in my car, because I started screaming on the phone. I was very happy and also shocked because out of all the kids coming to Andrews, I was accepted. I felt really blessed hearing the news.”
Melissa believes God brought her to Andrews. She remembers that at the end of her senior year of high school, she paused to pray about her next steps. Andrews immediately came to mind, but Melissa prayed again to be sure. That next Sabbath, she discovered that the visiting pastor at her church was an Andrews alumnus. Melissa states, “I took that as my sign from God, and here I am now.”
This past year, hundreds of students benefited from two key financial aids offered by Andrews: the Student Life COVID-19 Emergency Fund and the President’s Student Scholarship Fund. Together, the two forms of support provide immediate crisis assistance and address the long-term financial difficulties stemming from the pandemic.
The Student Life COVID-19 Emergency Fund was created in direct response to the financial impact the pandemic had on Andrews students beginning in March 2020. Some students, unable to return home, also lost their jobs on campus or in the community. The fund helps cover costs of rent and groceries, providing much-needed support at necessary times.
Originating in 1972, the President’s Student Scholarship Fund assists students who have utilized all other financial aid resources — student loans, government aid, parent contributions, merit scholarships, and employment — and still need a final push to complete registration. Awarded once per semester in the form of a specific sum from US$500 to US$2,000, the scholarship allows students to complete their financial process and enroll at Andrews.
Communication about both funds was sent out this spring via emails, phone calls, and social media to alumni and other willing individuals. In response, since April 2020, 532 donors have given gifts totaling nearly US$1 million. Thanks to this generosity, 460 students received essential financial assistance from one of the two funds.
Another student recipient of the President’s Student Scholarship Fund, José Antonio Alegria II, joined the Andrews community in fall 2020 as a freshman in pre-nursing. Jose has a passion for his chosen career, community service, and cars, and he recalls that he “wanted to come here [Andrews] since I was young.” As he researched, it became clear that Andrews was the place that would foster the career he wanted to pursue.
He received the news of the scholarship at 2:30 a.m. the morning of his journey from the Chicago area to Berrien Springs, remembering how he had to wait until the rest of his family awoke to share the good news. Jose admits, “I was feeling scared and excited for this new college experience. This scholarship reassured me and motivated me to put in more hard work.”
One of his favorite things about campus so far has been the experience of meeting new people. He said, “I love the campus, and the people here are great! I love the diversity.” Jose is excited about the future and is grateful for the part his scholarship has paid in helping him pursue his academic journey and future career.
Graduate student Zuzai Hizoke journeyed to Andrews with his family from Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2017, believing that the school has been blessed with two especially great things: the best professors and the best library. After completing prerequisites, he is now a first-year student pursuing a Ph.D. in missions with a cognate in religious education and discipleship — and he has experienced firsthand the financial difficulty in being an international student from a country with such a small economy. He affirms, “The scholarship came at a time when I really needed a miracle. . . . It was relieving, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its serious effects. I can say that this timely scholarship has helped me to stay more focused on my studies and not to worry about my fees. That is how powerful such timely assistance can be.”
Zuzai participates as an active member of the campus community through preaching, Sabbath schools, and Bible studies, and plans to teach and minister back home in PNG once he has obtained his degree. He and his family have a motto for when they leave Andrews: “Wherever the Lord calls.” They remain open to God’s guidance in future journeys.
For the time being, Zuzai voices his gratitude for Andrews. “Remember, it may be one of those normal things you do to give out scholarships like this to the so many that come your way, but please, be reminded, to some of us, it is a big thing — something that the family and our folks back home celebrate for. It speaks highly of this country and its citizens and, more importantly, the university.” He adds, “May I say, thank you to the masterminds behind this scholarship and prayer that our good Lord will continue to guide, lead, and bless you all.”