This story was originally published as part of the winter edition of The Master’s University Magazine. Read the full magazine here.
Growing up in Northridge, California, Onalee Miller thought she wanted to be a lawyer. Then, during high school, an entirely different world was opened to her.
“I visited a Christian nonprofit that tutors homeless kids,” Miller says. “These kids were obviously very behind in their education — there were juniors who were reading at a third-grade level. It was intense. But it led to me figuring out that I love working with kids, and I want to be that kind of extra support for people whose families aren’t there for them.”
Since then, Miller has had her heart set on working with kids in her future career. But where would she go to prepare? As she looked at various Christian colleges, she wasn’t always impressed by their approaches to Scripture. TMU, though, was different. The only question was whether she could afford it.
“It seemed kind of out of reach for me. It looked like such an awesome school, but I just wasn’t sure it was going to work out.”
She says she “fell in love” with the University after she came on a tour, and she began praying that the Lord would make a way for her to come.
Almost immediately, people she knew at Grace Community Church encouraged her to apply for scholarships at TMU. One that she applied for, and received, was The Master’s Global Scholarship. Between that and other financial aid opportunities, her prayers were answered.
This fall, Miller arrived at TMU to major in liberal studies, with an emphasis in teacher education. In the long run, she is considering becoming a teacher or pivoting to speech pathology or social work. But in the meantime, she’s relishing her time at TMU.
“I’ve been in public school all my life, so I’ve been super thankful to get to be in classes that open with prayer, and to have friends around me who are like-minded,” Miller says. “And I’ve really appreciated the depth of thought that’s encouraged here. My professors all encourage me to think, and then think some more, and then to think about my thinking. It’s really helped me to not be complacent with where I’m at, but to really push myself.”
Cedar Collins ran on a top-performing cross country team at his high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But for most of his running career, his heart was not in the right place.
“I was running for myself,” Collins says. “I was running for my own honor. And it wasn’t going well.”
Then, about a year ago, things changed.
“I really woke up to sin in my life. God also started giving me a desire to run for the Lord’s glory. And once that happened, things just started falling into place. Everything changed in my life.”
Soon after, through one of his teammates, Collins heard about TMU.
“I had been looking for a Christian college where I could run. I talked to a bunch of coaches, but I just saw how secular all of their teams were. It was not at all appealing to me. And as I was walking through that and praying about it, one day the Lord answered my prayers when I found out about TMU.”
He looked at the University’s website and was “blown away” by TMU’s commitment to Scripture. Collins was thrilled about the idea of being a student here. “I remember running around my house, just being so excited. I reached out to Coach (Zach Schroeder), and he emailed me back four minutes later asking me when I could fly out.”
Collins came out to California to visit, met the team, and instantly felt at home. It seemed like the perfect opportunity. There was only one barrier: finances. As the son of a single mother who worked as a schoolteacher, money was tight. But Schroeder helped connect Collins with financial aid opportunities, including The Master’s Global Scholarship, which has allowed him to attend.
Collins says that this first semester at TMU has been a wonderful experience. He’s been in the process of figuring out his passions and committing to a major, as well as bonding with his new team.
“The experience has been absolutely amazing,” Collins says. “Being on the team these past months has been one of the most life-changing things. Coach Schroeder always starts off our day by connecting the Bible with what we’re doing as runners. He shows us how to run as champions for Christ. And that same mindset really carries over to everything that we do in our lives.”
Sofiia Omelchenko never had ambitions to study in America. She grew up in Ukraine, attended a solid church, and had her eyes set on an undergraduate degree in Spanish from an institution in her home country.
But then, during her sophomore year in college, the war with Russia began.
“When the war started in Ukraine, we stopped our education,” Omelchenko says. “Then they tried to do it as distance learning — but it was still hard, because we would hear explosions and air sirens every single day. So it was hard to concentrate.”
Eventually, her parents decided it would be best to send her out of the country. Omelchenko moved in with her sister in South Carolina. Through her father, Sergei, a translator for Slavic Gospel Association, she connected with TMU and qualified for The Master’s Global Scholarship. This allowed her to continue her college education while stateside, with Omelchenko moving onto campus this fall for the One-Year Bible Program.
“I love it here so far,” Omelchenko says. “I didn’t even expect to like it so much, because studying abroad was never a goal I had for my life. So once it was offered, it took me a while to make a decision. But I’m so happy that I’m here, and I’m so thankful for everything that happens here.”
She has especially loved chapel and her theology class with Dr. Greg Gifford. As she takes this year to complete the Bible program, she intends to explore her options and determine her next steps toward finishing an undergraduate degree.
Learn more about The Master’s Global Scholarship at masters.edu/donor-scholarships.
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