Awarded to eight students this year, the scholarship is open to students completing their junior or senior year at a Presbyterian-affiliated college or university. Students have used Samuel Robinson Award proceeds for mission trips, transition to seminary and other graduate programs, and to reduce educational debt.
The award was created in 1956 to promote the memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism found in The Book of Confessions. For the 2011 award, students were asked to focus on prayer by reflecting on the specific aspects of the Shorter Catechism and were invited to discuss the effect of 21st-century technologies and worldviews on prayer.
Erickson's award-winning essay presented a timely meditation on the impact of technology on prayer. "Technology gives us an illusion of being in control that may detract from the sense of dependency on God that often drives us to pray," she wrote. "Many of our needs and wants are provided by technology, and it is tempting to simply look to them for our satisfaction rather than to God…we forget that it is the ordering of ourselves internally, through prayer, which brings peace…Prayer reminds us that we are out of control but that God is sovereign and in absolute control."
Erickson, a theology major, grew up attending Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Austin, Texas, and now attends First Presbyterian Church, in Colorado Springs, where her family moved several years ago. She says she pursued the scholarship to help pay for college and to open opportunities for pursuing continued education. She plans to graduate in December, and her long-term plans involve using her passion for scripture and biblical languages to help serve and equip the church.
"I found it both rewarding and challenging to memorize a theological document that undergirds much of the Reformed tradition, and to write an essay considering its contemporary meaning and significance," she says. "It reminds me how important it is to meditate on the scripture narrative as a whole and to seek out ways to live into the redemption story that God recorded in the Bible and continues to tell through His church."
In addition to the student awards, Whitworth, Alma College, Centre College, King College and Millikin University each will receive $500 to support campus ministry and to promote the Samuel Robinson Award. The scholarship will begin accepting applications for the 2011-12 academic year in December.
Last year, four Whitworth students won Samuel Robinson Awards: Brianne Jensen and Daniel Lewis, both '10, and Claire LePage and Heather Wallace, who graduate this May.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Toni Sutherland, program coordinator for the chapel, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or email@example.com.