Faith Hoyt

Earlier this year, leadership from the Pacific Union Department of Education attended the graduation weekend ceremonies of five students in order to present them with scholarship awards.

Every year since 2015, the Pacific Union has awarded four-year scholarships to five high school seniors pursuing education degrees at an Adventist university. The winners for this year’s scholarships are Alivia Lespinasse, Dannica Roberts, Lauren Vandehoven, Molly Gram, and Se Bin Bong, five students who share common goals: living God’s love in their classrooms and helping their future students discover the joy of learning.

When Alivia Lespinasse graduated from Loma Linda Academy this June, she knew without a doubt that the career she wanted to pursue was elementary education. “My love for teaching and helping others is something I believe God gave me for a reason,” Lespinasse said. “Kids are the future of our church. I want to be able to teach them about the joy of Jesus so that they continue down the path of wanting to know more about Him.” Lespinasse plans to pursue a degree in elementary education from Andrews University.

Dannica Roberts, who graduated this year from Hawaiian Mission Academy, wants to use her future role as a teacher to inspire others to love, serve, and live the way Jesus did. “My school has encouraged me to help those around me by assisting with their needs and teaching them about God’s love,” she said. Roberts believes her participation in several activities at the Aiea church contributed greatly to her desire to become a teacher. From volunteering as a crew leader for Vacation Bible School to working with young people on a mission trip to Peru, she learned how to teach others about Jesus. Roberts looks forward to earning her education degree at Southern Adventist University.

On her first day of Kindergarten, Lauren Vandehoven fell in love with school and met the first of many teachers who would inspire her decision to pursue a degree in education. “I have had a teacher who helped me wrestle with questions on spirituality, two who helped me find my passion for art, another who taught me how to make a good presentation and reflect questions in my answers, one who explained long division to me six different ways until I got it, and one who encouraged me to pursue teaching and has guided me along the way,” Vandehoven shared. She believes that teaching is the path towards infinite learning. “There will always be something new to find out and another perspective to discover,” she added. Vandehoven is a graduate of PUC Preparatory School and plans to attend Pacific Union College this fall with the goal of someday teaching high school English.

Molly Gram, a graduate of Newbury Park Academy, discovered her love of teaching while leading gymnastics classes for children ranging in age from 1 to 14. Her hope is to not only inspire young people with the fun of learning, asking questions, and being curious but to also teach children about God’s love. “I want to be able to show up to work every day and teach children about the love God has for us,” she shared.

Se Bin Bong, a graduate of Redlands Adventist Academy, attributes her passion for teaching to the mentorship and help from teachers in her life, as well as her love of children. “My teachers molded me into the person I am today and never failed to love and support me,” she shared. “They taught me about God and showed me who He really was through their actions. I want to make a ripple effect of God’s love.” Bong believes in the importance of mentorship and showing God’s love through actions. She will use her Pacific Union Education scholarship to attend Andrews University this fall.

The scholarships provided to these five students are one of the ways that the Education Department of the Pacific Union Conference is planning for the continuation of a quality education system. “As we identify individuals with a passion for teaching, there is nothing more exciting than to be part of helping them reach their goal,” said Berit von Pohle, Director of Education for the Pacific Union Conference.

Alivia Lespinasse, a June graduate of Loma Linda Academy, plans to pursue a degree in elementary education from Andrews University. Her passion for teaching grew through her experiences leading children’s Sabbath School at the Kansas Avenue church and serving as a ministry director in high school—an opportunity that involved teaching elementary students about Christ. Lespinasse receives her scholarship from Martha Havens, Associate Director of Elementary Education for the Pacific Union Conference.

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Molly Gram, an incoming education major at Pacific Union College this fall, discovered her passion for education while teaching gymnastics classes. At her graduation from Newbury Park Academy this June, Gram is presented with a scholarship towards an education degree by Berit von Pohle, Director of Education for the Pacific Union Conference.