For the last four years, Naomi has attended the University of the South Pacific in Tonga. She will graduate in a few weeks with a degree in Early Childhood Education—a degree made possible by a scholarship she received from the World Church Women’s Ministries Department.
Rose Otis, former Women’s Ministries Department director, established a higher education scholarship program in 1991 with the mission to “empower women, strengthen families, improve communities, and build up [the] church globally by supporting higher education for Adventist women in every Division.” Originally a percentage from the sale of the annual Women’s Ministries devotional book provided funds for the scholarship. Over the years however, rising education costs, compounded with a growing number of requests, made it nearly impossible to fund every candidate. Many talented, worthy women had to be turned down.
In 2003, a special group of volunteers formed an supplementary team called Scholarshipping Our Sisters (SOS) to raise funds for the scholarship program, working in conjunction with the department. Private donors, special projects, and devotional books sales primarily fund the program now. The fundraising goal for 2018 is $50,000 USD.
According to the flyer for the program, “any woman planning to attend a Seventh-day Adventist college or university in the Division in which she lives” is encouraged to apply for the SOS scholarship. They “are awarded on the basis of need, ability, and the recipient’s determination to improve herself.” Currently, 49 women in 15 countries are receiving assistance.
Naomi is just one of the over 2,400 women who have benefitted from the SOS program. In a letter sent to GCWM, Naomi thanked the many women who donated their time and skills to the scholarship fund. “The funds you awarded me motivated me to walk strong, to be an effective teacher and a servant for the Lord. Thank you for helping me achieve my goal,” she said.
Raquel Arrais, associate director of GCWM, loves to hear success stories like this. “Educating women who can’t afford education is the heart of what we do. We know that when we educate women, they change the world. Together we are creating a better future for our young women preparing to serve the mission of this Church,” she says.
To learn more about the SOS program, please visit adventistwomensministries.org.