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Molly McCleary, United Methodist Student Day scholarship recipient, uses talents to serve others.

Born in Colorado, Molly McCleary moved with her family several times before settling in the Boston area. She found a church family at Carter United Methodist Church in Needham, Mass.

“I know ‘the village’ that nurtured me there [made me] the person I am today,” McCleary says. The congregation encouraged her to pursue her passions and become a leader. Her peers elected her chair of her youth council when she was a freshman in high school.

Her leadership skills blossomed even more when, as a high school sophomore, she organized mission work. Her church family’s support made her realize that she was, indeed, a leader. “My mentors at Carter United Methodist Church,” McCleary says, “gave me the opportunity to hone my leadership and facilitation skills, which have brought me to where I am today.”

A college education was important to her goal, but it presented a financial burden to her and her family. “My mom was in one of the first classes of women to be admitted to Johns Hopkins University and my dad is a mechanical engineer by training who switched over to technology management,” McCleary says.

McCleary’s pastor encouraged her to apply for a Gift of Hope Scholarship supported by the United Methodist Student Day offering. The scholarship was a blessing, McCleary explains, because it “validated the church’s and God’s support of my work.”

At Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, McCleary formed memorable relationships with faculty, staff and peers. Currently, she is co-president of the Kenyon College Chamber Singers, president of the Women’s Rugby Club, treasurer of StageFemmes and a production stage manager for Mainstage and thesis shows.

Passionate about Student Day

“Years from now,” she says, “I won’t remember most things from my classes, but I will remember the people I worked, loved and laughed with every day.”

McCleary is a strong advocate for the Special Sunday that financed her scholarship.

“The church should support United Methodist Student Day because student loan debt is the No. 1 source of debt in this country, surpassing all credit card debt in 2012,” she notes.

“How can we expect our young people to lead the next generation if they’re caught in a quagmire of loans? How can we justify telling them to pursue their passions and dreams if doing so will prevent them from living a comfortable life? God wants all his children to fill their maximum potential, but they can’t do that if they’re sunk underneath their student loans.”

McCleary’s church and her college experience have given her an endless opportunity to perfect her talents and practice her skills. “I feel validated in my abilities as an organizer and facilitator, and I will carry these into the future,” she says.

She knows she is making a difference in the world by recognizing others’ gifts and finding ways for them to use their gifts in ways that excite them. “There is nothing more important than how we treat each other,” she asserts.

Lladale Carey, web content producer, United Methodist Communications

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Student Day calls the church to support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. The special offering provides scholarships for qualified United Methodist applicants. 

When you give generously on United Methodist Student Day, you support students as they prepare for life in uniting faith with knowledge. Give now.

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