I am pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Presbyterian Outlook church-college partnership essay awards. Seniors at Presbyterian-affiliated colleges were invited to write an essay about how their education at a PC(USA)-related college shaped their faith and equipped them for significant service and leadership. There were many worthy essays, but two stood out.
Our winner, Mickensie Neely, reflected on the gift of having the opportunity to take risks and try new things as she sought to discern where and how she wanted to make a difference in the world. Our second-place winner, Helen Wilkins, shared how her experience at a small, Presbyterian-related college taught her the value of community both within the church and outside of it. Both Mickensie and Helen continue to live out the faith that was nurtured during their four years at King University and Presbyterian College, respectively.
Mickensie Neely grew up in West Virginia, surrounded by a family firmly rooted in the gospel. She grew up loving Jesus and gradually felt the gravitational pull of a life devoted to working with young people in need. She attended King University in Bristol, Tennessee, graduating in May with a degree in youth ministry, double minoring in English and photography. Mickensie is passionate about finding ways to help teenagers relate to their creator through spoken word poetry, crazy youth ministry games and whatever means available. She has interned at several congregations including her local Presbyterian church at King and a large 250-plus member congregation outside of Nashville. In the 2015-2016 school year, she will be working with Urban Promise, an inner-city ministry in Camden, New Jersey.
Helen Wilkins graduated from Presbyterian College in May. She majored in Christian education and minored in English. Over the summer she served on a planning team for the Montreat Youth Conferences and in July started her job as director of youth ministry at Falls Church Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, Virginia. She is very excited to serve this church and community in the years to come and hopes to attend seminary after her time in Falls Church.