July 24, 2023

Foundation awards six students the Sinclair Scholarship

By: Connor Murphy

The Florida United Methodist Foundation is proud to announce the 2023 Sinclair Scholarship recipients.

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

Each year, the Foundation’s board members on the Scholarships and Grants Committee evaluates applications for the scholarships, which range from $2000 to $3000 per year and can be renewed for a total of four years of funding.

This year, the scholarship had 19 applicants, nine of whom were selected for interviews.

Meet the 2023 Sinclair Scholarship recipients

Madison Berlau

Madison Berlau

Madison Berlau, a member of Peace United Methodist Church in Orlando, is a recent graduate of Freedom High School, where she served as president of the International Thespian Troupe. She has served as a youth group leader and vocalist at Peace UMC. As a youth group leader, she organized mission trips and worked to keep members included and engaged during the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Berlau plans to study theatre arts with a minor in education, with the goal of teaching theatre at the high school level.

“I plan to use the skills I have learned within my leadership positions to create a warm and welcoming environment for each and every student I have,” Berlau writes in her scholarship essay. “I also hope to show them love; the love that God has shown me.”

Quinn Kustin

Quinn Kustin

Quinn Kustin, a member of New Horizon United Methodist Church in Southwest Ranches, has a passion for baseball and marine science.

He spent four years playing varsity baseball at South Broward High School, where he served as a mentor to his teammates, fostering healthy relationships and serving as team captain.

At his church, Kustin founded the Let’s Eat! Community Meals program, a youth-led initiative to plan and prepare meals for the community to enjoy and share fellowship.

Kustin is scuba-certified and has volunteered for environmental cleanups in Hollywood, Florida and Fort Lauderdale.

Kustin will study marine biology and environmental science at Florida Southern College, where he will play on the Florida Southern Mocs baseball team.

Shelby Morgan

Shelby Morgan

Shelby Morgan, a member of Southside United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, spent her high school career involved in the arts, excelling in dance, theatre and choir.

In the fall of 2021, Morgan helped establish a Capernaum Club at her church, a youth group that serves young people with Intellectual and Developmental Differences (IDD) by helping them cultivate fulfilling friendships and build self-esteem.

Her pastor, the Rev. Phillip Short, notes how wherever she applies herself, her strong leadership abilities shine.

“She has a way of gathering people, getting them to go in the desired direction, and inspiring them to coordinate toward the accomplishment of the desired goal,” Short said. “I have seen her do this time and again with her peers on missions projects as close by as our own church property here in Jacksonville, Florida and as far away and remote as places like Chisec, Guatemala.”

Morgan plans to study special education and business at the University of Florida, while continuing to apply her musical gifts as a worship leader.

Samuel Stiles

Samuel Stiles

For Samuel Stiles, church and theatre play major roles in his life, often in overlapping ways.

He found his passion for theatre at his church, St Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando, the place where he performed in his first show, Big River. He went on to pursue theatre in middle school and high school, working both as an actor and lighting designer. He served as marketing officer and facilities director for Dr. Phillips High School Theatre Magnet.

At St. Luke’s, Stiles has planned mission work as an intern, created curriculum for the church’s Vacation Bible School program, ran lighting and sound at worship and participated in church outreach events.

Stiles looks forward to studying political science at American University, where he hopes to leverage his writing abilities for social transformation.

“I believe in the concept of ‘noblesse oblige’ which defines the obligation of those with the privilege to use it as a tool to help those who do not have the same opportunities,” Stiles writes in his scholarship essay. “This has always been a driving force for wanting to go into a political landscape.”

Isabelle Thalmann

Isabelle Thalmann

Helping with audio-visual tech at worship, serving as fellowship leader at youth group, and performing in youth band are just a few of the ways Isabelle Thalmann has stayed involved in her church, Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church.

Thalmann has also taken four mission trips to Pinedale, New Mexico to serve widows and orphans in the Navajo Nation. Closer to home, she’s volunteered with her youth grou[ at the resale store of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.

Thalmann plans to study secondary education with a focus on social studies at the University of North Florida. During her junior and senior years of high school, she was able to explore her lifelong interest in teaching by taking a course that enabled her to work alongside teachers in a fourth-grade special education class and an eighth-grade history class.

With the support of the Sinclair Scholarship, Thalmann looks forward to getting involved with campus clubs and Campus to City Wesley Foundation.

Jada West

Jada West

Jada West has served as an acolyte, church leader and member of the choir at Merrell United Methodist Church in Lauderdale Lakes. She’s also enjoyed participating in food relief programs at Merrell UMC and in the broader Southeast District.

“It gives me the best feeling when I see the thankful faces of the people who get the food,” West writes in her scholarship essay.

At Fort Lauderdale High School, West led the marching band as drum major, performing in major parades in the local area. She earned the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE), a distinction earned alongside her high school diploma after pursuing more rigorous studies related to her interests.

West writes how she is keenly aware of the stigma around mental health treatment, especially in the children of minority communities.

“In our society we are notorious for underestimating and giving less attention to mental health … This mindset is engraved in most minority communities and continues to trickle down into the minds of their children,” West writes.

She plans to study psychology at Florida Atlantic University or the University of North Florida, with the goal of providing mental health services to children.

“Therapy and prayers truly opened my eyes to the fact that we do not push aside real emotions and trauma … there are true benefits of therapy,” West writes.

Applications for the Sinclair Scholarship are accepted annually from January 15 to March 15. Visit the Foundation’s scholarships page to learn more.

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