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Church-college partnership award goes to Whitworth University grad

Annie Aeschbacher, a graduating senior at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., has won the 2012 Presbyterian Outlook Church-College Partnership Award.


Brittainy Herrmann, of Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., and Abigail Bissette of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., tied for second place in the award contest.

The competition was based on college seniors’ essays on the topic, “How my education at a PC(USA)-related college has shaped my faith and prepared me for significant service and leadership.”

Winning essays were picked by a panel of Presbyterian leaders. Aeschbacher was awarded $1,000 by the Presbyterian Outlook Foundation, and Herrmann and Bissette received $200 each. All three essays will appear in the Presbyterian Outlook’s Guide to PC(USA)-Related Colleges, to be published Oct. 15.

Aeschbacher, who hails from Woodinville, Wash., earned a B.A. degree in Spanish. She will apply her studies as she heads to Guatemala Aug. 27 to serve the next 12 months in the PC(USA)’s Young Adult Volunteer Program. She awaits more specifics about the work ahead, but it probably will entail ministry with children and/or women in community development.

I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and can’t wait to see how God will work through this year!” she said. Eventually she hopes to earn a master’s degree, possibly in education, and do nonprofit work with Latinos in the U.S.

Herrmann, of North East, Pa., earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. This summer she is serving as lead counselor at Allegheny Center Alliance Church’s Kids’ Camp in Pittsburgh. She also will participate in a mission trip to Ecuador.

After that, “I’m not sure exactly what God’s will for me is,” she said. She has been accepted into a master’s degree program in education, but she is also exploring teaching positions for the fall.

Bissette, of Durham, N.C., earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She has enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program, and will do a yearlong internship at Duke Hospital’s Hock Family Pavilion, an inpatient hospice facility.

Beyond that, “I trust that God is leading me towards new experiences that will inspire and challenge me as I continue to deepen my faith and make plans for the future,” she said.

The magazine’s staff and trustees organized the annual award program in 2007 to help strengthen ties between local churches and the more than 60 PC(USA)-related colleges. The awards are also intended to help graduating seniors cap their college education by considering how it has helped them integrate the academic with the spiritual and the personal with the missional.