“Education is the key for change in women’s lives to shape a better future,” says Raquel Arrais, associate director of Women’s Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church and who manages the scholarship program.
The Women’s Ministries department of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church focuses on six areas that impact women globally: health, workload, poverty, illiteracy, education and leadership opportunities, and abuse. “When we looked at these six issues, and we agreed if you educate a woman, you educate a family and she can then have a little bit of hope and a way out. We are helping them to fulfill their God-given potential. Education is a gateway to leave the other five issues behind, because one empowered woman can approach her life better,” said Arrais.
Rose Otis, the first director of Women’s Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, had a vision to empower Seventh-day Adventist women in higher education everywhere. Otis decided to start a Women’s Ministries Scholarship Fund. This program became a part of the Women’s Ministries department in 1991. Through the scholarship, the Women’s Ministries department can empower women in the local church and the Church’s global institutions, to help them in their education and career.
Linda Koh, director of Children’s Ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church says the scholarship is a big advantage for the Adventist Church as well. “One benefit we found is that these young ladies, who’ve received a scholarship, have all graduated, and have become leaders of our Church because they have a higher education and they help other young ladies become educated.”
The first woman to receive the first scholarship was May-Ellen Colon. Today she serves as liaison between the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Adventist Community Services, an Adventist run emergency relief agency that operates in all world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “I felt affirmed and supported as I embarked on the huge and expensive journey to earn a PHD, especially since I wasn’t sponsored,” said Colon. “It was like a hug from God.”