Photo: Prospective students participated in our virtual Scholarship Showcase on February 19, 2021

Last Fall we announced the addition of three new premier financial awards that will provide full-tuition scholarships. We are now pleased to introduce you to the worthy recipients of those awards, in addition to the newest Girod Fellow.

Boerigter Grant—covers full tuition and some living expenses for a full-time M.Div. student who is called to be a pastor in the Reformed tradition. The grant is named after George Boerigter, a 1966 graduate of the seminary who spent several years as a pastor bringing his business savvy to ministry, and then went into business, bringing his ministerial skills to the marketplace. 

Benjamin DeBoer

Ben recently graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, where he majored in Biblical/Theological Studies and minored in English Literature. Throughout college, Ben worked in campus ministry and residence life and was involved in athletics and theatre (where he met his fiancée, Nicole). Ben and Nicole will be moving to Holland after they get married this summer.

“I always knew that I wanted to go to seminary and get my M.Div. but didn’t know if I would have the opportunity (or means) to do so directly after my undergraduate degree. As I began the application process at Western, the admissions staff went above and beyond to help me in my decision-making process—they encouraged me, prayed for my fiancée and me, and periodically checked in over email and Zoom to see how I was doing. I was floored by their level of support and honesty, and when I received word about the scholarship I received, I was speechless. Despite not knowing me in person, the people at Western cared for me so well and affirmed so many ministerial gifts in me that I couldn’t help but say yes to attending Western. My fiancee and I have truly felt blessed by the seminary already and are so excited for what God will do in the next three years.”

The Elsie Wen-Hua Shih Law Award for Excellence in Female Leadership—full-tuition scholarship for a full-time female student in the in-residence M.Div. program. The student must be dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in all areas of church and mission and be committed to ministry. The scholarship is named after the first female student to graduate from Western Theological Seminary in 1963. Elsie Wen-Hua Shih Law was a gifted Christian teacher, academic dean, pastor’s spouse, and registered nurse. 

Emily Hanrahan

Emily is from Birmingham, AL and recently graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor of Music. Emily has been leading worship for the past four years at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in downtown Birmingham and has also served as the Mission & Outreach intern there for three years. She sang in the Samford A Cappella Choir for four years and traveled to Budapest with them in 2018, where they won an international choral music competition. Emily’s music degree is in voice, but she also plays piano and little bit of guitar.

“I chose Western because of the worship culture present in the Holland and Grand Rapids area. I knew Western was right for me due to the hospitality and the familial energy present throughout every step of the application process,” she says. “I am so excited to learn more about theology and ministry practice in a place where I know I will feel comfortable being myself.”

 The Samuel Williams Award for Faithfulness in Justice and Reconciliation—full tuition to a full-time M.Div. student of color who is committed to advance justice and reconciliation within ministry. The scholarship is named after Samuel Williams, one of the first two African-American graduates of WTS (1951). Over a 39 year ministry spanning the Jim Crow South, urban poverty in California, rural Illinois, and the Dutch community of Holland, MI, Sam was a faithful, caring, courageous witness to the power of Christ to transform lives.

Christy Escobar

Christy hails from Lake in the Hills, IL, coming from a family of “six crazy kids” and “two of the coolest parents around.” They spend most of their time reading, creating, cooking and then eating. Christy feels blessed by who they have made her.

“I am excited to call Western my home for the next three years by both serving the community and learning from them. I am already so grateful for what they have gifted me and thank God for this opportunity,” Christy says. “Western stood out to me in its authentic desire to be involved:  involved in cultivating justice, involved in one another’s lives, and involved in the community. My prayer is that this experience will fully encompass a gift—to be both from and for our Father.”

 Girod Fellows Scholarship Award—full-tuition scholarship for students with outstanding research and writing skills who display eagerness for deep theological learning and have a heart for the church’s ministry. Girod Fellows also serve as research assistants to the Gordon H. Girod Research Chair of Reformed Theology, Dr. J. Todd Billings.

Emili Shepperson

Emili grew up in Slovakia before moving to the U.S. for undergraduate studies. As a ‘21 Wheaton College graduate with a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies, her interests revolve around discipleship, early Christianity, and the urban context. She is also drawn to the intersection of faith and medicine. This past spring, she interned at Lawndale Christian Health Center, an inner-city primary care clinic located in west Chicago. She currently works as a research assistant to Dr. Gregory Lee in the theology department at Wheaton College researching gender and church unity.

“I first learned about Western Theological Seminary from professors at Wheaton, and I was drawn to Western’s unique commitment to fostering pastor theologians. It combines both my deep love of discipleship with my academic interests,” Emili says. “I’m excited to begin the M.Div. program in the fall, and I’m especially honored to study with Dr. J. Todd Billings.”

Scholarship recipients participated in our Scholarship Showcase on February 19, 2021. 25 prospective students from ten different states received a box of WTS “swag” and joined us online to attend classes and chapel, meet with faculty, and attend interviews for our pool of full and partial-tuition scholarships and grants. “I appreciated the opportunities to hear from and interact with leaders, teachers, and students at the school as well as get a good feel for campus,” wrote one participant.

The four students above represent just a small portion of scholarship and financial aid available to students. Speak to our admissions team today to learn what options are available! 

Visit to learn more about creating a scholarship that supports Western’s students and future ministry leaders.