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Students Assisted Financially

Two college students are the recipients of financial assistance from First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

Elizabeth Escott is the recipient of a $10,000 award from the Barry Brandt Educational Assistance Fund of our church’s endowment. This grant, which is awarded on academic standing and financial need, will be applied to her spring 2020 tuition.

Additionally, Session recently approved a grant of $3,233 for Jaasiel Ossio, a pre-medical student from Cartagena, Colombia. The grant covers tuition (winter 2020) at the University of Rafael Nunez. Jaasiel’s six-year program costs $35,000. First Presbyterian can make this grant because of a generous gift from the late Leonard Dimmick in memory of his first wife. The Louise Dimmick International Scholarship Fund assists internationals in their educational development.

Elizabeth (left) regularly cuts short vacations to consult with a struggling non-profit in Morgantown, WV, or heads for Central America to work with indigenous people who need a partner to craft a business plan. One summer she interned at The Haiti Health Trust where people faced hardship long after a devastating earthquake.

She is a lifelong member of our church and a junior at West Virginia University, majoring in nonprofit management and community organization, with minors in Spanish, political science and sociology. Her courses focus on service-learning projects where teams listen to members of a community about what they need; they build meaningful relationships with clients. Elizabeth’s team contributes to their learning through studies, personal experiences, and past service.

“I believe that is what Christ has called me to do. He humbled me with all of the love and forgiveness He has for us, even when we act selfishly and cruelly. In gratitude for that compassion, I try to spread His message and His purpose for believers: listening, loving, and serving my neighbors – all my neighbors,” she shares.

She continues:  “Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life and is ever present. I believe that He is the Son of God – an example for how we should all live as both His children and servants. I believe in a God that calls me to love others unconditionally because we are each made in His image. I believe in a Jesus that made people uncomfortable, by breaking every boundary to include the excluded. I believe in a Holy Spirit that lives in and through me to convict me and humble me on my walk of faith.”

Jaasiel (pictured, right) lives in a house with a dirt floor and his mother has cancer. Michael Godley, Melinda Stitt’s friend, was teaching in the school in Jaasiel’s village and was struck by his fierce determination to become educated. He graduated high school with Michael’s financial support.

Born with a club foot, Jaasiel faced discrimination, bullying and taunts daily; even with two surgeries, he is unable to play sports, a sign of masculinity in his culture. Jaasiel has been religious his whole life, looking to God to help him overcome challenges. He wants to prove to his family that education is the key to a better life.

Jaasiel has learned through his personal struggles and religion to be selfless. He wants to become a doctor to inspire others to pursue education. Committed to a life of service, helping those who cannot help themselves, Jaasiel believes that everyone should be treated equally, and that no matter what issues someone has – physical, mental, or emotional – they can aspire to a better life for themselves and everyone around them.

Lisa Titus, chair of the Fund Committee, can answer any questions about Jaasiel. Should you be interested in helping with Jaasiel’s modest incidental expenses for transportation and food, please contact Lisa at


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