Community members change the world, one student at a time

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, August 15, 2017

By Amanda Bradshaw Sharpe
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – A scholarship is a grant or payment made to support a student’s education, awarded on the basis of academic or other achievement. It is often considered a means to an end. However, a scholarship has a profound impact on an individual’s life. Those who selflessly contribute to partially funding a complete stranger’s education are changing lives, and making a difference that will last well beyond a lifetime. They are nothing short of heroes.

Chowan University hosted the annual Chowan Christian Service Association (CCSA) dinner with the purpose of allowing donors, many of whom are local or regional, to interact with Chowan students who received a CCSA scholarship, while simultaneously honoring the hard work and dedication of the 2017 graduates.

CCSA provides scholarships annually to students who meet scholarship requirements and are called to Christian vocation. This can be any way God has called them to do His work and is not limited to pastoral, missionary, or religious organizations.

“God is everywhere, and so are people in need of His love and support through the love of others,” said Lou Ann Gilliam, Director of Church and Community Relations and CCSA Coordinator.

The evening was full of good music, good company, good food, and good stories. Aside from the table chatter between CCSA Scholars and donors or faculty/staff, two graduating students shared their stories with the room. Their experiences were unique and so were their struggles. However, they both found hope at Chowan University.

Rev. Robert Barmer of Windsor attended Chowan University for seven years prior to graduating in May. At 72 years old, Pastor Barmer received his bachelor’s degree in religion. When he began at Chowan, he intended to take two classes to help build his resume for a pastoral position. He didn’t know how he would afford tuition.

He explained, “I left it in the Lord’s hands to work everything out.”

Craig Janney, who worked for Campus Ministry at the time, introduced Barmer to the option of the CCSA scholarship and encouraged him to apply.

During his CCSA interview, Barmer was asked if he planned to finish college. Prior to that moment he had only planned to take two courses.

“But, the Lord always has a plan for you. So, without thinking, I said I would try to do my best. This is the most important decision that I ever made in my life,” shared Barmer.

Two years after beginning at Chowan, Reverend Barmer received a position at Potter’s House Church. He also maintained a job at Piggly Wiggly while pastoring and attending Chowan.

Takiya Delbridge of Portsmouth, VA, who received her bachelor’s degree in religion, shared her story. Unlike Barmer, Delbridge chose to attend Chowan immediately after high school graduation, a first-generation college student. Delbridge began her speech with the acknowledgment that in that moment it finally set in she was about to graduate.

Delbridge received a CCSA scholarship at a critical time when she desperately needed funding to complete her bachelor degree. CCSA not only kept her in college, it allowed her to gain leadership experience as the president of Daughters of the Most High, a praise dance team on campus which she describes as one of the greatest experiences of her life. Although it was a challenge, Delbridge accepted willingly.

“It was Daughters that taught me about myself. Leadership is service, and that was one of the greatest things I have ever been able to experience: creating a space where young women will get to know themselves and God. Because of the CCSA scholarship, I was able to do that for three years,” she continued. “Thank you for believing in us. To any donor who might wonder, ‘where is my money going, is it doing anything?,’ I promise you that it has changed my life.”

With each CCSA graduate the world gains a new advocate, businesses gain well rounded talent, and the world in turn becomes a better place. This cannot happen without the support of annual donors who selflessly give to change the lives of others. Like a ripple in a river, one drop of hope expands across the lives of many.

The CCSA graduating seniors are:

Robert Barmer of Windsor, NC

Takiya Delbridge of Portsmouth, VA

Ryan Harris of Winterville, NC

Angeliqué Jackson of Newport News, VA

McKaela Lane of Knotts Island, NC

Zulay Romero of New Bern, NC

Odell Tayloe of Burgaw, NC

For more information on Chowan Christian Service Association, contact Lou Ann Gilliam at or (252) 398-6317.