Bryan College hosted its 2021 Bryan Opportunity Scholarship Program Dinner in-person at the Chattanooga Convention Center and via livestream on Thursday evening. The annual dinner supports Tennessee students from low-income families. Since the start of the program in 2007, $2.7 million has been raised to aid over 300 students. This year alone, 50 students qualified for the program with an average household income of $22,250.
During the evening, guests were treated to a performance by Selah, known for their unmatched talent, passion for ministry, deep love for the church, revival of hymns, and powerful new songs, said officials. Selah has sold more than four million albums, been streamed over half-a-billion times, and received eight Gospel Music Association Dove awards. Following dinner, Selah performed a number of songs from hymns such as It Is Well and How Great Thou Art to a medley of some of their most well-known songs: You Raise Me Up; Wonderful, Merciful Savior; and We Press On.
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from a student who currently benefits from the Bryan Opportunity Scholarship Program. Junior Carlos Portillo is a Biblical & Theological Studies major and the first in his family to attend a 4-year college:
"As a Jehovah’s Witness, I was discouraged from going to college at all, much less a Christian college," said Mr. Portillo. "While visiting Bryan, I shared the same experience many feel: an overwhelming feeling that ‘I need to be here.’ Since coming to Bryan, I’ve fallen deeply in love with the Scriptures. I’m surrounded by faculty who have allowed me to see the potential in myself to become a good student."
Mr. Portillo explained that he would not have been able to attend college without the aid he received through the Bryan Opportunity Scholarship Program. “The Bryan Opportunity Scholarship allowed me to feel safe enough to even consider college, and then I found who I was—who I am—in Christ by getting out on my own at Bryan.”
He thanked donors for their support: “Thanks for investing in students like me. At this point, that’s all I have to offer—a sincere thank you—that is until I’m able to take your place and invest in the next generation of students like me.”
At the end of the evening, $170,735 was raised to support students. Associate Vice President of Advancement Janice Pendergrass said, “It was a wonderful evening of fellowship with each other, and worship led by Selah. We are so thankful to have students like Carlos at Bryan who are willing to share their story and have a desire to help the next generation of students.” Thank you to all our sponsors and donors for helping us fulfill our mission of educating students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world."