In Fall 2018, Seminary of the Southwest and St. James’ Episcopal Church in began a collaboration to create the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship to expand opportunities for low-income African American students and other students of color to attend the Seminary in preparation for priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The scholarship provides financial support for living expenses for these seminary students, in addition to a full tuition grant and other assistance provided directly by the Seminary.
The inaugural recipients of the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship are Ryan Hawthorne and Maria Victoria Umana. Both are students entering Seminary of the Southwest in the Fall of 2020, with Hawthorne pursuing a Diploma in Anglican Studies and Umana entering the Master of Divinity program.
“It is exciting to welcome the first Texas Pauli Murray Scholars to Seminary of the Southwest. This scholarship fund and the story of its creation are rich examples of how partnerships between parishes, dioceses and seminaries can have transformative results. I look forward to seeing Ryan and Victoria continue on their paths to ministry here at Southwest,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Dean and President of Seminary of the Southwest.
Ryan Hawthorne is a postulant in the Diocese of Texas and a parishioner at St. Luke the Evangelist in Houston. She recently served as youth missioner and school chaplain at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School in Houston, challenging students to reconsider who God is, what equality and justice call us to do and be to one another, and what the kingdom of God could look like in the future.
Ryan and her daughter, Noelle, have lived in Houston for six years and spend most of their free time searching the city for good tacos and good music. Although she already holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, Ryan looks forward to spending the year in Anglican Studies at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.
Maria Victoria Umana is also a postulant from the Diocese of Texas living in Houston. She was born and raised in El Salvador, and after raising her two children with her husband Ramon, felt a calling to the ministry of the priesthood. “People around me start encourage me to dedicate my life to serve others and God throughout the ministry of priesthood,” said Umana. “At first, I was unaware of God’s call to this ministry but my spirit would rejoice and be filled with peace every time I thought about this possibility and the more I meditated, the more clear it became that this is what God is calling me to do.”
The scholarship is named for the Rev. Pauli Murray (1910-1985), a woman of truly remarkable energy, vision, and accomplishment. She was a pioneer and groundbreaker in many different fields of endeavor, and her life included many “firsts” – including the first African American woman ordained to the Episcopal clergy, a co-founder of the National Organization for Women, and the original author of legal arguments later used to desegregate public schools in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
If you would like to support the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship, click here.