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Trinity presidential scholars weekend attracts top high school students

Trinity CommunicationsJanuary 27, 2018

The Trinity International University Presidential Scholars Weekend Jan. 26-27 attracted 35 high-achieving high school seniors from as far away as Cameroon to the Deerfield campus to compete for the University’s top scholarships.

Abi Gerbrandt’s flight from Cameroon to Chicago took 22 hours and required a layover in Turkey. She arrived several days early to account for jet lag, and wondered if her hosts would understand the effects of a long flight.

“If I wanted to go back to my room early, they were very understanding,” Gerbrandt said. “Very nice people here.”

This wasn’t Gerbrandt’s first trip from Africa. She made a college search trip to so she could look beyond fields of study and course catalogues. She wants to pursue a career in the health sciences.

“I wanted to be able to find a community,” said Gerbrandt, whose parents have been missionaries in Cameroon for four years. “I visited a lot of colleges, and (Trinity) just felt right.”

In addition to Gerbrandt, international students from Germany and Rwanda also competed via email and teleconferencing options.

All participating students competed for Trinity awards such as the Presidential or Kantzer Scholarships for undergraduate study (covering tuition, room, board and required fees), the Regents or Ruud Scholarships (full tuition and required fees), the Dean’s Scholarships ($20,000), and the Faculty Scholarships ($17,000). The awards are annual and renewable if the students maintain quality grades.

Judges evaluated each contestant in three settings: a personal interview, participation in a group discussion of prominent public issues, and a timed essay-writing assignment. Award announcements begin early next month.

“These are outstanding students who have many options available to them,” Executive Director for Undergraduate Enrollment and Operations Jordan Bryant said. “We enjoy hosting them and getting to know them. It’s a great way to show them how they can benefit from a Trinity education.”

Jose Rodriguez, from nearby Prospect Heights, is the son of a Hispanic pastor who leads a Spanish-speaking congregation. He will pursue a music education major and says he is the first member of his family with the opportunity for a college education.

“I want to go to a school where I can relate every day with people who trust in God,” Rodriguez said.

Rachael Woods, from Bettendorf, Iowa, plans to join the women’s soccer team at Trinity and study health psychology.

“I think my faith will be transformed, and it will be nourished and fed,” Woods said. “That can’t be found everywhere else, but here they have it.”

For more information about undergraduate admissions and available financial aid, go to

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