Three women representing three seminaries related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been selected by Presbyterian Women to receive the 2011-12 Women of Color supplemental award.

The award recipients are:

Presbyterian Women (PW), an independent organization within the PC(USA) of more than 300,000 women, is dedicated to strengthening the Presbyterian Church by opening the church to receive the gifts of women. The Women of Color supplemental award, a focus of the PW Grant for Theological Education, both reflects and continues the church’s broader commitment to support and encourage women pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at one of the PC(USA)’s related seminaries. “Women of color are the least represented group on our campuses,” said Ann Ferguson, coordinator for PW. “The supplemental award was created to support women of color called to pastoral ministry to complete their theological education and share their gifts with the church.”

Supplemental grants may be awarded over and above the Presbyterian Study Grant—a program designed for theological students preparing to serve in PC(USA) congregations—if the applicant demonstrates financial need.

The Women of Color supplemental award and the Presbyterian Study Grant are both managed by the General Assembly Mission Council’s Office of Financial Aid for Studies. “The supplemental awards reduce the need for loans to meet our future leaders’ educational expenses,” said Laura Bryan, associate for Financial Aid for Studies. “We are grateful to Presbyterian Women for their commitment to removing barriers to education for racial ethnic women.”

Bryan cited a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics which revealed that while a significantly higher percentage of racial ethnic students receive scholarships than their peers, a higher percentage of racial ethnic students are also borrowing to pay for their education. She also noted the rising cost of education.

“Students borrow when they lack other means of support,” she said. “We believe that this higher percentage of racial ethnic students borrowing underscores the need to continue to develop resources for racial ethnic students and to encourage racial ethnic students to apply for aid. Education costs are outpacing the growth of income from endowments.”

When Kearns was notified that she was one of the three award recipients, she started to cry. “Praise the Lord,” Kearns said. “I didn't even know that I was up for the award.” Kearns, a member of Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, is a candidate under the care of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. In addition to the support she receives from the Presbyterian Study Grant and Louisville Seminary, Kearns works nights at UPS to pay for her education.

Gim is a member of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Lawrence, Kan., and a candidate under the care of Midwest Hanmi Presbytery. Fauntleroy is a member of Davie Street Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, N.C., and a candidate under the care of New Hope Presbytery.

Presbyterian Women chose to select the three seniors with the greatest need from the pool of potential applicants.

“I don't know what to say except thank you for this,” Gim said. “Indeed it is a great expression of the love and commitment of Presbyterian Women to women of color.”

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In order to be considered for the Women of Color award, students must apply for the Presbyterian Study Grant in April. Presbyterian Study Grant applicants must be M.Div. or M.A.C.E. students attending a Presbyterian-related seminary full-time. M.Div. students must be enrolled as inquirers or candidates by PC(USA) presbyteries before the application deadline to be considered for an award. Eligible applicants demonstrating financial need are examined by a reading committee selecting no more than 125 students to receive a Presbyterian Study Grant. Approximately 15 percent of those selected are racial ethnic students, who may be considered for supplemental awards.

To make a gift to the award, send your check to:

Presbyterian Women Remittance Processing
P.O. Box 643652
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3652

Indicate PW Theological Grant Fund #311 on the memo line of your check.