First Place, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Christian Studies Scholarship

By: Frances Samson

For the entirety of my education I attended Lodi SDA Elementary School and Lodi Academy, sister religious schools where it was emphasized on helping others; where the ‘Golden Rule’ was especially emphasized on. We were taught that it was a responsibility to help others, ministering to people through kind and charitable acts. In the high school, the school motto was ‘The School that Trains for Service’, and it was required that every student have a total of twenty-five hours of community service each year. Thus, if they had attended the school for all four years they were expected to have one hundred total hours of community service to graduate. Each student had the option to clock in hours from doing volunteer work outside of the school’s ‘Community Service Day’ where students were separated into groups to do different types of volunteer work in or around Lodi, though sometimes we branched out a bit further. By the end of each Community Service Day every student was completely drained, and even though we complained a bit most of it was for show-we all knew we had made a difference.

The community service job I enjoyed the most was working at the homeless shelter known as St. Mary’s in downtown Stockton. Though I didn’t live downtown and attended school in Lodi, I was still a Stockton girl and felt more at ease in that city. The shelter itself was underneath the highway bridge with mixes of muted and multicolored tents everywhere; the make shift homes of the homeless. You could smell the area before you even saw it, though you eventually got used to it. Working at St. Mary’s had its ups and downs; cops showed up once because one of the homeless was behaving erratically, the work was nonstop, some people were obviously on drugs, and one of my Hispanic classmates helping to clean up tables in the cafeteria was told a rather racist comment by a homeless man. Yet, the man with no teeth had the best laugh, the woman living in the tent in the bushes above a freeway told the best stories, and the teenagers at the shelter were friendly and fun. Someone now had clothes for the week, someone could take a shower, someone had shoes, someone was able to give their children a full meal, someone felt like a human being again, and someone wouldn’t die tonight.

We all made some sort of difference on those Community Service Days. No matter how miniscule our part was we were helping, and it gave all of us consider the people there. It gave them faces, made us realize that they were human, people just like us, and gave us a new perspective on things. At the end of the day, even though what we did was a small drop in an ocean of issues, we had made the slightest difference and that was what mattered.

Ultimately, I do believe that my Christian education and upbringing has heavily influenced my own, personal moral compass. Personally speaking, I do believe that with the way I was brought up that I should do my best to be a good example to other people. In today’s world when people hear that someone is ‘Christian’ there are some negative things unfortunately associated with it, I do not want to be that sort of person. I don’t want to be lax spiritually, but I also don’t want to push too strongly and end up alienating people or making them uncomfortable with my presence. Growing up, it took time for me to decide on how I let religion have a place in my life, and realize how much it truly affected me growing up. The church I attended has always been very close to me, and as it is a primarily Filipino church I refer to most of the members as ‘Uncle’ or ‘Auntie’. In truth, when I was very young I took it to mean that I was blood related to every single member of the church when it actuality it was only one family I was truly related to, but my church family has always been good to me and my family, and I’ve known them for years. As such, my religious education, my classmates, my family, and my church family has heavily influenced my spiritual and religious views.

I hope to be the type of person that can be empathetic and sympathetic to people, while maintaining my own ground. Although I’ve met great people whose experiences in the Christian education and personal experience has shaped them into having excellent leadership qualities, I don’t believe I could be an effective leader to people. However, I do want to set a good example to others, enough to erase the negative image of Christians that some people have because of unfortunately, poor interactions or experiences; I don’t want to come off as sanctimonious or hypocritical to people. I want to be sincere, but also be a person who can handle whatever the world throws at me while remaining true to my convictions without conflicting with other people. With the total education that I’ve received through the past eighteen years of my life I know that I need to tolerate and compromise with people if I want to get through life, especially with my intended career in healthcare. I’ve learned that I can be passionate about the things I enjoy, but that I can’t be overtly emotional or allow my emotions to control me.

I am applying to this scholarship as I am aware that my religious education has heavily influenced me into the person I am today, and will no doubt continue to do so as it has helped shape my worldview and sense of morals. I am equally ecstatic and determined about beginning my freshmen year at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, and hope to later attend Loma Linda University. I am thankful that you have taken the time to review my application and look forward to receiving word from you soon.

About the Author:

Frances Samson is the First Place Winner of the 2017 Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Christian Studies Scholarship. She is a graduating High School Senior from Stockton, California who will be attending Pacific Union College in the fall of 2017 and hopes to continue her Christian Studies at Loma Linda University. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. is proud to help her pursue her dreams at a Christian University.