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Katie Cannon Scholarship Thank You Letters

Scholarships are announced and dispersed by July 31st. The deadline to apply is June 1st. Visit the main Katie Cannon scholarship to learn more and apply.

“The Work Your Soul Must Have”

I am retired from previous work in the education, health care, and mental health sectors serving persons with communication disorders.  In the prime of my career, I heard the call to my vocation—my life’s work—and pursued my M.Div. at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.  I did not want to stop there, but my husband’s medical conditions and lack of adequate financial resources necessitated that I stop after finishing the M.Div. from McCormick and following ordination in the PC(USA).

While I was at the breakfast table one morning in late 2022, I remembered the words of Katie Cannon, “Your vocation is the work your soul must have.”  At that moment, it was impressed upon me to call the Office of Women’s Leadership Development at the PC(USA) in Louisville, KY.  I had been accepted at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA., and had recently begun the Doctor of Ministry Program.  I had no idea how I could continue to afford it on a budget of a retired person.  I had the opportunity that morning to talk with Jewel McRae.  She listened and encouraged me to apply for the Katie Geneva Cannon scholarship.

I applied, and thanks to Jewel McRae and the Office of Women’s Leadership Development, I was considered and received financial support without having to incur student loan debt.  Jewel has supported me in continuing and furthering my study for the Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in Justice Studies.  This is “the work [my] soul must have,” as Katie Cannon said.  It is the fire in my belly.

Thanks so much to Jewel McRae, the Office of Women’s Leadership Development, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries and the legacy of Katie Geneva Cannon, and the PC(USA) for your gracious support. 

— The Rev. Maretta Arnold-Franklin,
Doctor of Ministry Student
Columbia Theological Seminary
Decatur, Georgia


“Leadership As an Act of Gratitude”

I first heard of the Office of Women’s Leadership and Development in 2018 when I was invited to a retreat at the Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, TN. While there I quickly resolved that I would remain connected to this office. I have enjoyed personal uplifting email exchanges with the office personnel and invitations for opportunities throughout our denomination. I have developed curricula materials, offered keynote addresses, facilitated conversations and helped plan multiple conferences, including the inaugural Manna Retreat for Young Adults, which was held in January at the Montreat Conference Center. Jewel and others have remained amazing supporters along the way.

When I found out that I was a recipient of the Katie Cannon Scholarship, I was so grateful. I cried. I was in real financial need and I am not sure how I would have continued pursuing my D.Ed.Min. degree had I not received this scholarship. As a demonstration of gratitude, I intentionally sought out opportunities to lead within the community in which I live. As a result of my leadership efforts, I was awarded the 2022 Women’s Leadership Award by Schreiner University in recognition of my intentional exemplary leadership for the success of others. On October 26th, approximately 200 community members gathered at Schreiner University for their annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The university is affiliated by choice and covenant with the Presbyterian Church (USA) with a main campus in Kerrville, Texas, and first year campuses throughout the state.

The scholarship afforded me the space and time to lead in my community and PC(USA) and work on assignments and practicum requirements necessary for the completion of my doctoral degree. I remain humbled and grateful.

— Natarsha Sanders

“The Justice-Seeker Hat”

I wear many hats: devoted wife and godmother, daughter to aging parents, sister-friend, sorority member, and dedicated member of leadership at my church. Yet, despite all the hats I wear, I feel the call to do something more. As I witness societal upheaval, injustice, and threats to our democracy, I am obliged to answer a calling to make my community a fairer and more just place.   This is one of the reasons I have chosen to go to law school in the middle stage of my life. Pursuing a goal like going to law school with many personal responsibilities is challenging. However, every dream or effort requires support, faith, and, occasionally, finances. To that end, I am honored to have been the 2022 recipient of the Katie Cannon Scholarship. 

This scholarship from the Office of Women’s Leadership and Development has provided me with financial support to alleviate a little of the financial burden of legal education. Their commitment to supporting women scholars financially has allowed me to focus on my studies and pursue my call to serve others through the law.

I feel fortunate to attend a law school that promotes both Christian faith and justice. I am supported by a top-notch faculty dedicated to our academic and professional development as future lawyers and advocates. Additionally, receiving the Katie Cannon Scholarship has allowed me to become part of a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to pursuing a career in law and making a difference.

Overall, the Katie Cannon Scholarship has been an invaluable resource as I work towards answering my call and positively impacting my community. I am deeply grateful for the support and opportunities this scholarship has provided me and for the Office of Women’s Leadership and Development. I will continue to strive to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

— April J. Pilgrim

“I Am Thankful for You”

I have experienced the Lord as Jehovah Jireh all my life, especially over the past three and a half years while pursuing the Doctor of Ministry program. In miraculous ways, God provided an opportunity for me through the office of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries of Jewel McRae that not only supported me but also gave me words of encouragement and financial assistance. Without that help, I would not have been able to attend this program. I know that the help of GA through Jewel’s office will not be in vain as said in I Corinthians 15:8. Moreover, minority churches like the one I lead cannot afford to train leaders without the help of the General Assembly. I would like to personally extend to you, Jewel, not only my gratitude but also on behalf of my church for your contribution to the training and development of leaders.

I would also like to express my sincere thanks regarding the scholarship fund of Katie Cannon, a professor, a renowned scholar, and the first black woman ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Although she passed away, her legacy continued to encourage me. Despite having a different background than that of mine, Katie Cannon inspired me to overcome challenges and to follow up on my dreams and goals with tenacity and passion. I want to dedicate my energy to the Christian community, especially to Vietnamese women who are less fortunate than me and do not have the opportunity to get an education. Katie Cannon’s life is an example that encourages me to continue my uneven path to serve people.

— Cedar Dang