Bethel Students Meet the Donors Behind their Scholarships

Scholarship donors make a Bethel education possible for students in a direct way—and the annual Scholarship Celebration is a unique opportunity for those students and their benefactors to share a meal and their stories.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, GS'16, contributing writer

April 21, 2023 | 1 p.m.

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Bethel is a place where students can belong—and where they can become the people God has uniquely created them to be. 

Behind each student is a small army of alumni and donors praying for and financially supporting them, helping put a Bethel education within reach and ensuring each student feels encouraged and uplifted.

On April 13, scholarship donors and students gathered for the annual Scholarship Celebration hosted by the Office of Development. They shared a meal and heard from President Ross Allen, Chief of Staff Jeanne Osgood, and Development Officer Nick Cocalis, who shared from the stage in the Underground. It was a unique opportunity for connections to happen, and for nebulous “Bethel donors” to become specific names and faces for the students whose stories they’re helping write.

“We’re here tonight to celebrate God’s story that we get to be a part of,” Allen said, sharing the story of God’s provision for the university of the years. “Donors, you make this unique Bethel experience one that can be achievable and affordable to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience it.” 

While donors on the whole do a lot to enhance the Bethel experience for students, scholarship funds in particular often have meaningful stories behind them. Many scholarship endowments are created to celebrate a life milestone or in honor of a loved one. And every scholarship recipient has a unique journey of their own. So the evening was centered on sharing and celebrating a few of those stories.

Judy Ferrin attended Bethel in the 1960s, three of her sons graduated, and four grandchildren have graduated—with another two currently on campus. It goes without saying that the family has deep connections to Bethel, so Judy was surprised and touched when they came together at Christmas 2021 to surprise her with the Allison Ferrin Living Legacy Scholarship Fund. Judy’s daughter Allison died unexpectedly at age 19, halfway through her time at Bethel in the 1980s. 

“Allison was just a vivacious, really special girl who loved the Lord with all her heart."

— Judy Ferrin

Just days before Allison’s death, she and Judy had talked about organ donation. When Allison slipped into a coma, Judy’s thought was, “If she doesn’t make it, someone should have her sweet heart.” She recalls feeling a deep peace unlike anything she’d felt before. 

Allison’s organs were donated, which saved multiple lives. The Lord was able to make something beautiful happen in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. Now the Ferrins are continuing Allison’s legacy of good. Her endowed memorial fund will give a scholarship each year to a Bethel student from their home state of Colorado. 

“[Allison’s death was] the most difficult thing I’ve been through in my life, but in my weakness, He was strong,” Judy says. “I’ve just been so blessed. Thank the Lord for Bethel.”

Terri Russell S'24 also shared a story of deep loss that the Lord redeemed. Her son Reece died of a terminal illness at age five. Two years later, her husband took his life, leaving her with three children under the age of four.

“As the dust slowly settled from these circumstances, I knew I either needed to fully throw myself into God’s hands or walk away completely. Yet to me, God’s hands were all over my life. I knew He loved me deeply and that when all else had failed, he was trustworthy and good. So we walked together.”

— Terri Russell S'24

She began feeling a call toward vocational ministry, and specifically Bethel Seminary. “These tremendously difficult life circumstances possessed the duality of illuminating my calling, while also creating financial stumbling blocks,” she explains. 

She was awarded the Fred and Anita Prinzing Scholarship, which helped remove that barrier to pursuing a ministry career. At Bethel Seminary, she found a supportive community and an environment where she could learn and grow personally and spiritually. She’s now a pastor at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, Minnesota, and will complete her Master of Divinity degree in 2024.

Undergraduate nursing student Ruth Domingo ’24 shared her journey to Bethel, which started in the Philippines. Her family migrated to New Richmond, Wisconsin, when she was in middle school, and the family had to build a life from scratch. Staying financially afloat was a challenge, but they had a deep faith that God was calling them to the United States–and a deep trust that He would provide.

And provide He did. A few years after they moved across the globe, Domingo remembers feeling a lot of fear and anxiety about another major transition looming on the horizon: college.

“When I toured Bethel, however, all of that changed. I was still skeptical when I stepped foot on campus, but the further along in my tour I got, the more I felt an overwhelming sense of comfort. I distinctly remember going into Chapel, singing about how God loves me, and just crying. In that moment, God’s presence was so strong. Bethel just felt like home, and my spirit was at peace.”

— Ruth Domingo '24

The Charles and Ellora Alliss Educational Foundation Scholarship and the Marilyn H. Batterman Memorial Nursing Scholarship became a part of Domingo’s story, opening a door to a calling that had felt unlikely. As she trains to become a nurse, she’s felt encouraged and equipped to see her vocation as a ministry, something she wouldn’t necessarily have found at other colleges. 

The nursing program has nurtured me as an individual while training me to be a healthcare professional. All of my professors are so passionate about what they do, and they genuinely care about all of their students,” Domingo says. “They root for our success and prepare us to be excellent nurses. They lead by example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, and how we can serve God through caring for patients. It is here at Bethel that I have also met my lifelong friends–the ones that allow me to be authentically and genuinely me.”

These three stories are examples of a larger narrative of sacrifice, generosity, and gratitude. Over 70% of Bethel undergraduate students received need-based financial aid last year, with an average financial aid package of almost $33,000. One of every four undergraduate and seminary students received privately-funded scholarships coming from individual donors, families, corporations, and foundations.

“Your generosity equips students to serve and go and lead where they’re called, so they can step into the world with boldness and confidence–in a world that so desperately needs them–and use their gifts that God has given each of them.”

— President Ross Allen

Help make a student’s Bethel education possible

Creating a scholarship fund–or contributing to one–is a way to directly impact Bethel students. As a scholarship donor, you can direct your giving to students within an academic program or a demographic you're passionate about. And you'll have the opportunity to meet the student who benefits from your gift at our annual Scholarship Celebration.

Learn more