Mennonite Education Agency awards 13 scholarships


written by Jolene VonGunten for Mennonite Education Agency

ELKHART, Ind. – Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) has announced the recipients of the 2024-25 MEA Scholarship for BIPOC Students. Thirteen students were awarded scholarships from five partner schools.

The 2024-25 MEA Scholarship recipients are:

  • from Bethel College, North Newton, Kan.: Josué Coy Dick, $2,500, and Samuel Hernández, $1,500;
  • from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), Harrisonburg, Va.: Ciela Acosta, $1,500; Mariana Acosta, $1,500; Mukarabe Lysiane Makinto-Inandava, $1,500; Ally Welty Peachey, $2,500; and Marciella Shallomita, $1,500;
  • from Goshen (Ind.) College: Katherine Columna, $1,500; Adrian Delgadillo, $1,500; and Ivonne Ortiz, $2,500.

MEA created the scholarship for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, who are members or active participants of a Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) congregation, and who are attending or plan to attend a Mennonite college, university, or seminary that is partnered with MEA. The Scholarship selection committee is particularly interested in student leaders on campus and in their congregations and communities.

Meet the recipients of the 2024-25 MEA Scholarship for BIPOC Students:

Micheline Ayitoma Ilonga, AMBS

Micheline was born in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She earned a degree in law from the University of Kinshasa in the DRC in 1994 and worked as a judge in the DRC. Micheline is pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology and Peace Studies at AMBS. “I aim to discover strategies to help practice and maintain lasting peace,” she wrote. “God’s cosmic project is shalom for all, a peace that goes beyond the simple absence of war. [It is] the well-being of every person in all dimensions: material, economic, social, and spiritual. I want to practice in this field of peacebuilding in my church and community.” Michaeline is married with two teenagers. She lives on campus with her family, and they attend Prairie Street Mennonite Church, where she serves as an Elder.

Jonah Yang, AMBS

Jonah was born in Laos and grew up in the rural areas of Phu Kho and Phu Kham Houa villages. Jonah’s background is a remarkable story of a family conversion from Buddhism to Christianity, displacement from their homeland during the Vietnam War, and immigration to the United States, not knowing any English – which is now Jonah’s fourth language. He is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership degree at AMBS and is teaching in AMBS’s Journey program to students in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Besides teaching the Journey courses, Jonah and his wife travel to Southeast Asia to conduct MC USA Women Sister Care and Compassionate Care Seminars in many different regions in Laos and Thailand. He wrote, “My vocation is to help Hmong Christians begin understanding Anabaptist history, the Confession of Faith, and the Missio Dei by providing leadership presentations so that they can grow in faith through love, compassion, peace, and reconciliation.” Jonah is married to Memee, with whom he has seven children. The family reside in North Branch, Minn., and attend Emmanuel Mennonite Church.

Josué Coy Dick, Bethel College

Josué was born in Guatemala and grew up in North Newton, Kan. He has roots in the Mennonite community in Kansas and in the Maya Q’eqchi community in Alta Verapaz, Coban, Guatemala. He is studying Bible and Religion, Peace and Conflict, and Music Performance at Bethel College. He is co-president of the Bethel College Community for Justice and Peace and is a member and attendee of Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton, Kan. Josué is also an accomplished violinist. He is a two-time winner of the annual Dwight Beckham Young Soloist competition. He wrote, “I am not sure yet what exactly will be my vocation, but I am guided by my Christian faith to serve others and live alongside the marginalized. I am interested in ministry, education, and social work. Wherever it is I end up working, I will seek to live out my faith, to be guided not by a pursuit of wealth but by a desire to bring about the kingdom of God, to make the world more just.”

Samuel Hernández, Bethel College

Samuel is entering his third year of studying elementary education at Bethel College. He wants to be able to reach out to kids and teach them about life and how to overcome challenges. Samuel was raised to follow Jesus and serve out his calling. He attends Camino de Santidad in Liberal, Kan., and is grateful to Pastor Moises Romero, who has known Samuel since childhood and always pushed him and believed in him. “He’s been a rock for me and our church.”

Zekriyat Ahmed, Bluffton University

Zekriyat is a third-year student from Ethiopia, pursuing majors in Biology and Pre-medicine at Bluffton University. Aspiring to become a surgeon, she plans to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate degrees. Zekriyat is deeply involved in various extra-curricular activities, including the campus ministry team, where she contributes to encouraging a supportive and inclusive community. She also participates in volunteer activities locally to make a positive impact. Zekriyat attends Ebenezer Mennonite Church in Bluffton, where she is an active participant, contributing to its mission and serving its members. She wrote, “My career goal is deeply rooted in the belief that Jesus is the center of my faith. His teachings encourage me to love and care for each other in our daily lives, which aligns perfectly with my career goal to work in the healthcare field, where I can serve, love, and care for those who are suffering. Through my profession, I aim to share the message of hope found in Christ, shining his light through both my work and actions.”

Ciela Acosta, EMU

Ciela, from Salem, Ore., just completed her first year at EMU, studying Peacebuilding and Development. She comes from a Mexican American household that has shaped her worldview and passion for social justice, radical empathy, and hospitality. She hopes to pursue a career relating to the interpersonal work of peacebuilding and nonviolent communication, especially with children. She is also interested in policy and advocacy work for human rights organizations. “I strive to embody the teachings of Jesus by pursuing kindness and empathy in the interpersonal relationships that I create, and advocating for peace and justice on earth,” Ciela wrote. Her home church is Salem Mennonite Church.  

Mariana “Mana” Acosta, EMU

Mana, also from Salem, Ore., is Ciela’s sister and will be a fourth-year student at EMU, studying mechanical engineering. She is interested in the intersection of her degree and service-oriented initiatives and hopes to construct infrastructure for isolated and underserved communities worldwide. In 2022, she volunteered with Engineers in Action in Bolivia to build a bridge, and she will be helping to design another bridge in Eswatini, Africa, this summer. On campus, she has worked with the Sustainable Food Initiative (SFI) club and Mennonite Action for Palestine. Mana wrote, “Being Mennonite for me means embodying love, peace, and service in every aspect of life. It’s about showing Jesus’ love by advocating for the marginalized and working towards a more peaceful and compassionate world.” She attends Salem Mennonite Church.

Mukarabe Lysiane Makinto-Inandava, EMU

Mukarabe was born, raised, and educated in Burundi. Her career has been one of leadership and advocacy on the international stage, exposing corruption and advocating for others. Whether it be uncovering unethical food practices at a United Nations relief agency or testifying before the UN General Assembly on behalf of HIV-AIDS-positive orphan girls in East Africa, Mukarabe has always followed her mother’s wisdom of speaking truth against injustice. She wrote, “I always say that I was a Mennonite before I knew what the Mennonite faith was.” Mukarabe is an ordained minister and, with her husband, the founder of Amahoro International, an NGO that assists Burundian refugees. Her vision is to establish peace centers across East Africa. She resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and attends Los Angeles Faith Chapel. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Conflict Transformation.

Ally Welty Peachey, EMU

Ally is a rising senior studying Environmental Science and Biology at EMU. After graduation, she wants to serve with MCC’s SALT program before pursuing a master’s degree in environmental policy. She is passionate about environmental studies and wants to work to enact large-scale changes through community-based efforts. Ally is grateful for the opportunities she has had at EMU, which included research in Queensland, Australia, and a semester-long intercultural experience in Guatemala and Cuba. She wrote, “One thing I have always been drawn to in the Mennonite church is the emphasis on serving others and doing God’s work. To me, a core value of being a Mennonite follower of Jesus is taking action and not remaining bystanders.” Ally’s home church is First Mennonite Church of Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

Marciella Shallomita, EMU

Marciella moved to Philadelphia, Pa., from Indonesia with her family at the age of 8. She will be a senior at EMU, pursuing dual majors in Biology and Mathematics with a minor in Bible-Religion-Theology. On campus, she serves on the student-led worship team, as a volunteer student chaplain, and holds leadership roles in the Asian & Pacific Islander Student Alliance. She is interested in organ donation and transplantation and wants to advance research in bioengineered organs. After graduation, she plans to continue her academic journey in neurobiology, bioengineering, or mathematics. “The ethics of Jesus,” she writes, “as a result of living a Christ-centered life would inform how I go about the research and seek fairness and justice.” Marciella’s home church is the Nations Worship Center in Philadelphia.

Katherine “Kat” Columna, Goshen College

Kat is from Elkhart, Ind., and attends Southside Fellowship in Elkhart. She is the child of Mexican immigrants. Formerly Catholic, Kat is grateful her family joined the Mennonite church and the deeper connections and community she has experienced. “Being a Mennonite for me has been about having a family outside my relatives,” she writes. Kat will be a junior at Goshen College, studying Graphic Design and Marketing. Her experiences working at a non-profit farm and the Boys and Girls Club of Goshen have given her an interest in non-profit organizations and making meaningful connections with people. She wants to work with non-profit groups after graduation.

Adrian Delgadillo, Goshen College

Adrian is from Dakota, Ill., and will be a senior at Goshen College. His home church is Freeport Mennonite. Adrian is pursuing a degree in communications and is driven to pursue a career of serving others through storytelling. His passion is to help highlight stories that need to be told and to serve as a global citizen. Adrian wrote, “Being a Mennonite follower of Jesus is to live in a constant state of service. Upholding Christian values and elevating individuals through acts of service is extremely important in my life, and I attribute that to my Mennonite upbringing.”

Ivonne Ortiz, Goshen College

Ivonne is from Goshen, Ind., and attends Eighth Street Mennonite Church in Goshen. Her parents, originally from Mexico City, immigrated to the U.S. in 2001, hoping for a better future for their three children. Witnessing their resilience, determination, and sacrifices instilled Ivonne’s strong work ethic, a deep appreciation for her opportunities, and the value of perseverance in the face of adversity. She will be a third-year student at Goshen College, studying Marketing and Graphic Design. Ivonne writes, “Being a Latina woman in the marketing field motivates me to be a trailblazer and a catalyst for positive transformation. I am inspired to amplify voices that have been historically marginalized and overlooked in mainstream marketing narratives. By embracing my identity and leveraging it as a strength, I am committed to paving the way for future generations of diverse marketers and fostering meaningful connections that drive social change.”

Scholarship applications for the 2025-26 academic year are due April 1, 2025. Scholarship information, requirements, and the application form are available online at mea-scholarship-for-bipoc-students. MEA grants up to $4,000 in scholarships to a student or students at each MEA partner school each academic year. Partner schools include Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Bethel College, Bluffton University, Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Goshen College, and Hesston (Kan.) College. The funds may be divided between multiple applicants or awarded to a single individual at each school.

Contributions to the scholarship fund are invited. As funds increase, so will the number of scholarships available. Tax-deductible contributions can be made online at www.Mennonite and click on the Donate tab. Checks can be sent to Mennonite Education Agency at 3145 Benham Ave., Suite 2, Elkhart, IN 46517, memo: BIPOC Scholarship. 

Mennonite Education Agency is the education agency of Mennonite Church USA, headquartered in Elkhart, Ind. MEA partners with Anabaptist Mennonite educational institutions and programs to fulfill the educational mission of MC USA.


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