news-category: Financial Aid

Church-Related Scholarships for Gardner-Webb Students Soar to New High

From left, Meredith Bridges, L'Mia Littlejohn and Callie Owen
From left, Meredith Bridges, L'Mia Littlejohn and Callie Owen receive the Minister's Dependent Scholarship from Gardner-Webb. Littlejohn also receives the Church-Matching Scholarship.

Church-Matching and Minister’s Dependent Scholarships Enhance Relationships

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—In 2019, Gardner-Webb officials pledged to strengthen ties to Christian churches and announced a significant expansion to two scholarship programs: The Church-Matching Scholarship and the Minister’s Dependent Scholarship. That year, zero students received the Church-Matching and only 14 received $13,500 from the Minister’s Dependent. Since then, 155 students have received a total of $577,058 from both forms of aid.

“These numbers tell a clear and impressive story,” emphasized GWU President William Downs. “At Gardner-Webb we’re serious about recruiting students who want to live and study at an authentic and welcoming Christian institution of higher education. We back that commitment with real scholarship dollars, so that students and their families are now better able to navigate college finances. I am delighted that an initiative we launched three years ago has so quickly, and so profoundly, begun benefiting so many students.”

The Church-Matching Scholarship matches the funds a student receives from an endowed or budgeted scholarship given by any Christian church or organization. The Minister’s Dependent Scholarship is offered to any dependent student of a full-time minister of a Christian church or an ordained, full-time employee of a Christian church or church-related agency. Both scholarships stack on top of other institutional aid up to the cost of tuition.

L’Mia Littlejohn

The scholarships helped L’Mia Littlejohn, of Shelby, N.C., transfer to Gardner-Webb in 2021. After attending a larger university, Littlejohn felt more at home on GWU’s friendly campus. Plus, she was offered a spot on the women’s basketball team. She said the smaller environment gives her more opportunities to form meaningful friendships, and the professors are available to answer questions and offer help. “Gardner-Webb is a small community that helps students thrive inside and outside the classroom,” she described. “At this university, you will always be surrounded by people who will support you and help you grow.”

Because she transferred from a four-year institution, Littlejohn also received a GWU Transfer Housing Grant, which offers free room and board. “The aid has given me the opportunity to get an education without putting a financial burden on me and my family,” explained Littlejohn, a senior.

Meredith Bridges

Meredith Jane Bridges, of Kings Mountain, N.C., is also the daughter of a minister and grateful to receive the Minister’s Dependent Scholarship from Gardner-Webb. “This grant is another way that God has shown me that Gardner-Webb is the place that I am meant to be,” Bridges affirmed. “Gardner-Webb has been so generous and welcoming to me with their offer of this scholarship and others, and in this way, God really opened the path for me to be able to come to school here. I am so thankful, because Gardner-Webb is a home and family to me now.”

With the scholarship and other financial aid, Bridges decided to double major in English and psychology. “Writing has always been my passion, and my English studies are developing my voice as a writer as well as teaching me in what ways I can use my gifts after college,” affirmed the senior. “I feel called to work with children, and I want to follow through on that, either as a counselor or a librarian.”

Callie Owen

Callie Owen, a junior from Balsam Grove, N.C., and her sister, Ressie, a 2021 alumna, both received the Minister’s Dependent Scholarship. “Paying for college can become such a burden on so many students, and the fact that GWU offers a scholarship to help my family means a great deal,” Owen asserted. “Throughout the past 5 years, the Minister’s Dependent Scholarship has helped us to further our education. My family is also grateful that it is another scholarship to allow me to be at a school where I can continue to grow in my faith and be in a community-centered environment.”

Owen is guided by a goal “to one day be able to give back to the places that gave to me growing up.”

To fulfill this dream, she’s preparing to teach middle grades math. “I have always considered the field of education a calling,” Owen affirmed. “Education fuels the world; it is so vital in every child’s life.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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