Like the Magi from the East who followed the star to Bethlehem only to return home another way, the route of mother-daughter duo of Carla Louca and Susannah LeMay took some unexpected turns. Their respective roads surprisingly led them to study in the same place at the same time, at Presbyterian-related Stillman College in Tuscaloosa.
Carla began her undergraduate education in 1998, but she left school after only a year. When her daughter Susannah was born, followed by twin sons not long afterward, she took a break to raise her family. After years of working unsatisfying jobs, she knew she needed something more — an intellectual challenge and spiritual connection — and she found it at Stillman.
Meanwhile, her daughter Susannah was living and studying in South Korea, where her military father was stationed at the time. But she also wanted to find something meaningful. Wanting to go into music, her mom suggested she come to Stillman to study music journalism. Once Susannah transferred and joined in activities at the school, she learned that as you get into the community, “there’s really no way that you can fail,” she said. “If you want to succeed, people will absolutely give you the tools and the knowledge that you need.”
Providing students like Carla and Susannah with the support they need to succeed is what the PC(USA)’s Christmas Joy Offering is all about. The Offering distributes gifts equally to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color and to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. “Stillman College has long been the place where students can find an opportunity to work on making their dreams a reality,” said Dr. C. Mark McCormick, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Carla and Susannah have unique stories. The fact that they have both flourished in their studies, and they both confess that their relationship with one another has grown to new breadths and depths, is in no small part due to the nurturing community they found here.”
Carla is grateful to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the gifts that made her and her daughter’s education possible. She shares, “When I think about how I have grown more spiritually and what I have learned at Stillman, especially what Dr. King said about the light of Christ being in everyone, to be able to see that light of Christ reflected in my own child is a really beautiful thing to experience as a mom.”
Your gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering help bring the light that can help those like Carla and Susannah — and so many others — shine. Please give what you can, for when we all do a litle, it adds up to a lot.
Gifts to the Christmas Joy Special Offering of the PCUSA will be received throughout December. By giving to the Christmas Joy Offering, you will be providing assistance to current and retired church workers in their time of need and developing our future leaders at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges. Please consider giving to the Christmas Joy Offering in addition to your regular giving. Give online or by check — mark gifts “JOY”.