May 10, 2024

2024 Sinclair Scholarship Recipients Announced

By: Kathryn Boney

The Florida United Methodist Foundation is pleased to announce the 2024 Sinclair Scholarship recipients.

The Sinclair Scholarship was established by Aleen and Carson Sinclair, longtime members of John Wesley United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, to support the spiritual and academic development of college-bound first-year students.

Each year, the Foundation’s Scholarships and Grants Committee evaluates applications for the scholarships. This year, the scholarship had 15 applicants, nine of whom were selected for interviews. Five outstanding students were selected as this year’s recipients.

Hayden Denmark

Hayden Denmark, a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, found a passion for service through his experiences with youth ministries from leading the youth worship team, volunteering at vacation bible school and theatre camps, and going mission trips. “His will to serve others is infectious!” wrote Brandon Sangster, Director of Youth Ministries at St. Luke’s.

During his sophomore year, a life-changing mission trip to serve in a homeless shelter in Tampa deepened his perspective on what it means to serve others. “I now feel more compassion for people, and I feel like it’s my duty as a Christian to help others.”  In addition to his heart for compassionate service, Denmark is an accomplished student with plans to attend The University of Central Florida to study mechanical engineering after graduation. He looks forward to staying connected to his faith at Wesley @ UCF. “I want to stay involved in my community, helping others and showing them what the power of Jesus is,” he said.

Conner Ellis

For Conner Ellis, helping people turn towards the Lord is a cornerstone of his faith journey and is evidenced in his leadership in his youth group, youth praise team, and his involvement with children’s ministries. “Part of Conner’s love for his community is the joy he shows when helping others,” wrote Rebekah Long, an adult volunteer at Conner’s church, First United Methodist Church of Stuart.

A significant experience for him was serving as a camp counselor at WinShape Camps in Georgia. While kids arrive at camp shy, Ellis said, “as the week progresses, we form these relationships, and you begin to see how excited they are to be there – and it shows how good God is when they are starting to accept him and want their life to have him in it.”

Ellis will attend Florida Southern College after graduation where he will double-major in Psychology and Sports Business Management. Through sports psychology, Ellis hopes to live out his love for helping people. “I feel like that’s what God’s calling me to do,” he said.

William Holden

William Holden, a member of the Channel UMC in Ft. Myers, credits his experience as a United Methodist with providing him a strong and supportive community to come back to through the ups and downs that life brings.

That sense of community inspired Holden to engage in missions and co-found a nonprofit combating homelessness. “These experiences have helped me to apply the spiritual teachings I’ve learned to the real world,” he wrote. His work with the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers was particularly impactful. “The project that we did brought the issue to me more effectively than I’ve ever seen it before, and it inspired me to serve even further,” he said.

After graduation Holden will attend Florida State University to pursue a degree in Finance through which he hopes to bring social responsibility to operations he finds lacking in the financial sector. He’s grateful for the help the Sinclair scholarship will afford him. “It’s really inspiring that that there are people out there who would put their financial support and trust in you to help you achieve where you are being led to do good things in the world,” he said.

Nadia Krejcha

For Nadia Krejcha, her church life at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando has been, “a transformational journey of faith, service, and personal growth.” She said, “I discovered the profound impact that a supportive community can have on one’s spiritual and personal development.”

Krejcha participated in youth ministries at St. Luke’s as a missions volunteer, a small group leader, a Community Choir member, and eventually a Youth Praise Team and Worship Leader. Through these opportunities, she found her purpose: “The experience of being able to shape how we worship with the kids and the youth was really powerful, and singing and worshiping serves as my way of showing my love to the community and to God,” she said. After graduation, Krejcha will attend Flagler College and major in Fine Arts. She is grateful for the Sinclair Scholarship, which was an affirmation for Krejcha. “I really hoped that other people would see what I wanted to bring to the world and help me with that.”

Matthew Scruggs

Matthew Scruggs grew up as a member of Memorial United Methodist Church in Fernandina Beach where was taught what he called a “core ideal” of United Methodism: to make sure everyone is welcome at the table. “I truly feel that my experience with the United Methodist Church has helped me become a more outgoing and welcoming person,” he said.

Scruggs points to his confirmation as the most defining point in his faith journey. “Being confirmed opened up so much more for me to be active in the church,” Scruggs said. He served as a youth member of church council and attend annual conference. In addition to his service as a youth lay leader, he also served as a liturgist, greeter, song leader, and usher, and participated in missions to provide meals, as well as civil rights activism.

After graduation, Scruggs will attend The University of Central Florida and major in Hospitality with plans to go into hotel management, where he hopes to apply his belief in welcoming inclusivity. “Growing up in an environment where nobody was turned away and everyone was welcome really helped define my future and who I want to be as a person,” he said.

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