Determining how to pay for higher education can be a stressful and daunting task that may dampen a student’s pursuit of their calling.
For one student, United Methodist Communications (UMCom)—the denomination’s global communication agency—partnered to empower her pursuits of being a positive voice for change.
Podcaster Michelle L. Eunice is passionate about bringing people together through media and entertainment. In 2021, she found herself named United Methodist Communications’ Stoody-West Fellowship graduate religious communications studies assistance recipient.
“I’m excited to use my voice to amplify diverse voices and increase positive examples of people of color in media and entertainment,” she shares. The UMCom programs “remind you that your calling is bigger than yourself, and grounds you when you need to remember ‘why’ you’re sharing your gifts, talent and voice with the world.”
“I’ve been a professor at the University of Southern California (USC) for nearly 25 years and count Michelle among the top 1% of students I’ve taught,” notes Professor Jennifer Floto, who also serves as Eunice’s graduate thesis advisor. “She is working on a groundbreaking study about inclusivity in the entertainment field. I know that receiving the Stoody-West Fellowship has allowed her to concentrate on her studies without worrying about expenses, and I’m grateful to have her as a student in our graduate program as a result.”
Eunice completed an immersive podcast course with Spotify executives and is now a USC Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellow for Media Impact in Film and a USC Annenberg Graduate Fellow. She pitched and worked on the 2022 Global Diversity Month brand campaign “Allyship in Action” for Sony Pictures Entertainment. (This represents the first time in the company’s history that they had one universal theme worldwide.) “I also had the privilege of working with Sony Pictures on the Oscar’s new diversity and inclusion standards to increase representation in Hollywood,” she adds.
She is working on her Master’s thesis at USC in the form of a podcast on which she interviews prominent TV and film executives of color. Eunice discusses their entertainment careers and explores how the industry can increase representation and inclusion of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students who pursue creative and corporate roles in television and film.
United Methodist Communications offers two religious communication education assistance opportunities, a $6,000 Stoody-West Fellowship and $2,500 Leonard M. Perryman Communications Scholarship for Racial Ethnic Minority Students. Each year, eligible parties have until March 15th to submit their applications for consideration.
Eunice notes that “pursuing a career in public relations and advertising/communications has been one of the best decisions of my life! God is empowering me to help others and bring people together through inclusive campaigns. If you trust God, I have no doubt that He will do that for you too. He will be faithful when you face any storm.”
“We believe that communication is key to community. Diversity among communications professionals is essential and one of the great gifts of our global church,” shares Gary Henderson, Chief Relationship Officer at United Methodist Communications. “Our fellowship and scholarship, named after communicators who exemplified excellence in communication ministry, provide critical training and experience for people interested in serving the church in such a time as this.”
Eunice shares that United Methodist Communications played a pivotal role in her communications development. “I was ecstatic when I learned that I was selected as a Stoody-West Fellowship recipient. It was evidence that my trust in God in starting the “Christ over Culture” podcast in my tiny apartment bedroom was paying off! I had completely upended my life. I quit my job in healthcare to pursue media/entertainment public relations and advertising full-time. It was an outward commitment to God that I was dedicated to using my voice for good and for His glory. He honored that commitment. Being selected as the Stoody-West Fellowship awardee was confirmation that I was headed in the right direction.”
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“When Michelle originally applied for our fellowship, she stated: ‘I want to use media to have a positive impact on society and to share my personal testimony about how God used me, a young adult with low self-esteem and fear of public speaking, to educate, empower and entertain thousands of people around the world,’” reads Royya James who oversees the submission process at UMCom. “It’s a blessing to know that we’ve helped her to lean into her calling. I look forward to hearing more success stories from her and other recipients.”
As United Methodist Communications’ fellowship and scholarship application deadline approaches, Eunice stresses that “I highly encourage any student who is passionate about Jesus Christ and communications to apply.”
She adds that “I hope my journey can inspire others to take giant leaps of faith and trust God, wherever He sends them.”
*Brenda Smotherman is the Senior Public Relations Manager at United Methodist Communications.
For 80+ years, United Methodist Communications has been leading the church in telling inspirational stories of God’s work in the world through The United Methodist Church, reaching new people, supporting local churches in vibrant communications ministry, equipping leaders and delivering messages of hope and healing.
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