Vernon Scholar Program

Vernon Scholarships will be offered by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral during the 2016-2017 academic calendar to those actively enrolled undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina who have completed their freshman year.  Upon the successful completion of an application process, grants up to $3,000 will be awarded to five students, based in part upon the vision a particular applicant may have for the use of the funds. In exchange for the stipends, participants will enter a covenant with Trinity that encompasses three principal elements: (1) a commitment to regular attendance at one or more weekly worship services at Trinity; (2) a willingness to undertake a project that benefits the Trinity community, or Columbia at large; and (3) participation in mentoring relationships among a group of parishioners who will provide guidance and encouragement to the participants while engaged in the program. Trinity hopes that the participants will be challenged to find a vocation that gives their lives real meaning, regardless of how they choose to make a living.

Located just two blocks from the heart of the USC campus, Trinity is a large, dynamic congregation of Episcopalians that has served as the spiritual home for many students throughout its history.  Its culture is rooted in the Anglican pillars of faith: scripture, tradition and reason.  Trinity welcomes dialogue with others and encourages individuals to question, explore and test their own notions of truth, making it an ideal community for engaging college students. Scholarships will be awarded to those of all faith traditions—or from no faith tradition at all—who seek to find their calling in life while they equip themselves with higher education.  The program aims to provide promising young people with a year-long experience of self-discovery that might enhance their college careers.

The Vernon Scholars program has provided stipends of $3,000 to three current students at the University of South Carolina. The students have entered into a covenant with Trinity in which each Scholar has agreed to be an active participant in Trinity’s worship life for a year, while also committing to meeting with a mentor group on a monthly basis and to carrying out a project that benefits either the Trinity community or the greater Columbia community.

The primary purpose of the Vernon Scholars program is to help young people find their vocation. The mentoring component of the program is perhaps its most important aspect, as the pairing of college students with like-minded members of the parish will help the Scholars: (1) identify their spiritual gifts, (2) learn how those gifts may be cultivated and used for the greatest good, and (3) listen for what God is calling them to do with their lives.  Mentor groups are headed by a convener and consist of six to eight parishioners who look after, pray for and encourage the Scholars over the course of a year.

Meet the 2016-2017 Scholars

  • Witt Bauknight: Witt Bauknight is a sophomore Chemical Engineering major at USC. A Columbia native, he has been a member of Trinity his whole life as well as a participant in the Choir of Men and Boys since the second grade. During his freshman year, Witt became a leader in YoungLife, a ministry for high school students. Outside of class, Witt enjoys sailing, camping, hiking, bowling, and Gamecock Athletics.
  • Rachel DiGiacomo: Rachel DiGiacomo is a Senior Exercise Science Major at the USC Honors College from Edisto Island, SC. She plans to attend physical therapy school and provide encouragement to others through this field. Rachel loves soccer and children. She went on a medical mission trip to Guatemala where she got to combine these two hobbies with ministry. Rachel is excited for what God has in store this year!
  • Cassidy Hall: Cassidy Hall is a sophomore pharmacy major at USC who will be applying to the South Carolina School of Pharmacy in the fall. Originally from Ehrhardt, South Carolina, Cassidy is active in her home church where she volunteers in activities including Bible studies, building wheelchair ramps, and local/abroad mission trips. Her interests include playing volleyball and basketball, reading, and spending time with her family.
  • Anna Holley: Anna Holley is a senior seeking a BA in Music (Piano) and minor in Theater at USC. Originally from the small town of Bethune, Anna enjoys singing in the Trinity Adult Choir, performing, ballet and theater. Her favorite pastimes are viewing classic movies, kayaking, and spending time with family. Anna continues to seek God’s guidance to use her musical gifts for His honor.
  • Marissa Roth: Marissa Roth is a Tennessee native and a rising Junior at the University of South Carolina. Marissa is studying International Business with a focus in GSCOM [Global Supply Chain and Operations Management] and a minor in Portuguese. She also competes collegiately on USC’s Diving team. Since arriving in Columbia two years ago, she has been volunteering with the youth program at Trinity as a junior advisor. This experience has allowed her to expand her faith through fellowship with the Trinity community as well as participate in other faith based experience like the Homeworks mission trip to San Jacinto, Peru.