2018 Sonlight Scholarship Winners Announced

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Please meet and join us in congratulating these 13 remarkable Sonlight-educated students poised to make a difference in the world. As the winners of our annual Sonlight scholarship competition, they have each been awarded each with $20,000, $10,000 or $4,000 for college.

Many of these students have used Sonlight since they were young. They’re headed into careers in medicine, mathematics, business, education and more. Most are headed to their college of choice, and many have superb SAT or ACT scores.

But they are also kind, big-hearted young adults. They want to use their skills to make a difference for God’s kingdom in the world—be it overseas, with their colleagues, or future families.

$20,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner: Kaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TX

$5,000 per year


$20,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner: Kaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TXKaycie Kelly of Muldoon, TX joins Jonathan Edwards in praying, “Lord, stamp my eyeballs with eternity.” Her longing is for Christ, to make Him known to all nations, that His Kingdom would come. This has shaped all of her learning, thinking, serving, endeavors, and relationships. Independently, Kaycie supports missions prayerfully, relationally, and financially, using money she earns from her jobs babysitting and as an office assistant. Her leadership in her 4-H club helped her team reach Nationals. Noted for her kindness, her “humble ferocity to the faith,” her creativity and service, Kaycie lives her life by the word of God, reaching out to those in need. She has used all the Sonlight programs from C on up, including all the high school programs. She even added on British Literature to read over two consecutive summers (a great idea for all book lovers), and looks forward to attending a Great Books program in the fall.

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winners

$2,500 per year

1. Daphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZ

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Daphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZDaphne Gwozdz of Peoria, AZ has used Sonlight from preschool on. It served her well, with an SAT score of 1500! On track to receive the AWANA Citation Award (for ten years of intense Scripture memory and study), she also leads and serves at church. More importantly, as one adult mentor said of her, “her group of friends is eclectic and she has unconditional love for all of them. She is very caring and encouraging. She is always kind and thoughtful. I have never heard a negative or unkind word from her.” As a child, she wanted to go to Arizona State University (the alma mater of both her parents) and play softball. But since then, she’s fallen in love with writing. Fan Fiction, NaNoWriMo, blogging, youth group devotionals, video scripts—she passionately pursues good stories. And, through her stories, hopes to introduce people to the story of Jesus. She plans to study creative writing when she heads to Colorado Christian University in the fall.

2. Hannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX

Hannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX $10,000 Sonlight Scholarship WinnerHannah Hastings of Kerrville, TX, a Sonlighter since 2004 (using A-400!) has enjoyed everything from war reenactments to volleyball, from 4-H to Bible study—a wide range of activities, but all unified by her love for people. She has spent scores of hours on the Student Council, participating in a variety of community service projects to bless another person’s life in some way. Hannah also has volunteered at Camp Blessing the last five years, a Christian summer camp for young people with special needs. She was one-on-one with a camper at all times, including one week with a nonverbal camper, where she “showed unique perseverance” in finding ways to communicate. Because of her passion for people with disabilities, she looks forward to becoming the fourth generation of her family to attend Texas A&M University, where she’ll study communications, with the end goal to promote disability awareness and inclusion.

3. Mallory Fehl of Fishers, IN

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Mallory Fehl of Fishers, INMallory Fehl of Fishers, IN lived in Ethiopia for her first sixteen years. When she read A Long Walk to Water in Sonlight F, she saw the walk for water literally happening around her, and saw how her parents—digging wells, running a medical clinic, planting churches—were laboring for the gospel. She spent a summer at Schloss Heroldeck in Austria, a ministry retreat center that can keep rates low for weary laborers by using volunteer workers. When her aunt taught her to crochet in 2012, she soon taught others. Their Crochet Club made blankets for the orphans at Embracing Hope in Addis Ababa. And one of Mallory’s crochet students taught the craft to male evangelists, who now crochet, preach, teach crochet, and answer questions as they speak to interested audiences. “I never thought that crochet could be used as an evangelistic tool, but it can. It turns out God can use anything.” Mallory looks forward to studying elementary education, in hopes of returning overseas after her education.

4. Jeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MI

$10,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner  Jeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MIJeoffrey deSpelder of Lansing, MI, a Sonlighter since 2005, has been part of the three-time National Homeschool Soccer Champions and has won the Ingham County Right to Life Speech Contest. When studying Sonlight’s government program, he took the initiative to get an internship with a Michigan State Representative. What he talked about most, though, was the last four years he has spent volunteering with the after school program Fire-Up for Life. Working with children who have been “bullied by classmates and ignored by parents,” who sometimes behaved badly, he was ready to quit. Then he realized that the Lord didn’t give up on him, but loved unconditionally. Renewed, he carried on, demonstrating that he was one of the “rare few” who “not only have the skills but the heart to effectively reach this difficult demographic.” Having finished three years of Arabic study, Jeoffrey plans to study pediatric medicine, in order to volunteer in the Middle East, a region that first interested him when studying Sonlight F.

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winners

$1,000 per year

1. Evan Ellis of Broomfield, CO

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Evan Ellis of Broomfield, COEvan Ellis of Broomfield, CO has used Sonlight from PreK-H, along with several high school modules. The adults in his life universally commend Evan: “He consistently will help without complaining on any request,” and, beyond that, looks for ways to serve. Having volunteered on annual work-service trips with his church, and volunteered in a hospital since 2014, he hopes to become a nurse to support another passion—the theater. Over the years, he has been involved in over 20 shows. He loves the stories told in performances, and he loves the people in the theater arts: “one of the most hostile cultures when it comes to Biblical teaching,” as he says. To serve in the medical field by day, share the light of Christ in the theater on off hours, and serve the church at every opportunity, Evan is excited to continue a life of serving the Lord, and others, with joy.

2. Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX

Caitlyn McGee of Sherman, TX, in her 11th year Sonlighting, “exhibits wisdom beyond her years, a quiet confidence, and demonstrates compassion for those less fortunate than herself.” For the last six years, she and a small team of volunteers have spent a morning each week making sandwiches and prepping food for “backpack meals,” now serving almost 400 students each week during the school year. In the fall, she plans to join her brother and cousin as third generation Aggies, as she studies Education, with a plan to pursue either speech pathology or library science in a post-graduate program. She says, “My lifelong dream has been to share the love of Christ with children.” As she has volunteered in the local library and in other venues, she has seen “that so many kids grow up in homes full of hate. I want to show those children God’s love, whether that be as a teacher, children’s librarian, or speech pathologist.”

3. Cory Messerschmidt of Holland, NY

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Cory Messerschmidt of Holland, NYCory Messerschmidt of Holland, NY, Sonlighting since 2007, has innate curiosity: a ham radio operator; owner of a paracord business (making bracelets and such out of survival cord); a golfer whose enthusiasm persuaded his father to take up golf; a photographer who captures the moment no one else sees, and shares that beauty with others; a volunteer at the Christian TCT Television Studios, running cameras for live events; is a three-time qualifier for the National Bible Bee, (which each year requires memorizing around 900 verses); and CERT trained (Community Emergency Response Team, with emergency training, drills, and preparedness). Cory has “an amazing ability to connect with everyone he meets.” When one neighbor was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease, she was impressed that Cory “would always make sure to speak to her (non-communicative) husband as well as her.” Cory plans to double major in business administration and accounting, with concentrations in management and finance, as he looks toward building a business that will leave a lasting legacy for the glory of God.

4. Madeleine Patten of Rogers, AR

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Madeleine Patten, of Rogers, ARMadeleine Patten, of Rogers, AR, a Sonlighter since 2003, has “a love for God, a love for people, and a love for learning.” As her mom continues, “In many ways, Sonlight Curriculum has helped to shape all three of these loves over the years.” A gifted musician, she won first place in her regional piano competition, and was Principal Oboist for the Ozark Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. When she realized that she had developed a quiet reserve because of frequent family moves, she challenged herself to begin one conversation wherever she went and joined a speech club for competitive speech. After battling her own mysterious illness for almost two years, she has found an interest in caring for others. She spent six weeks caregiving for her grandmother, and when her mother was called away for some months, she managed the homeschooling and household care. “When I arrived home, all the boxes in the big blue Sonlight binder had been checked off and all the girls were right on schedule!” Madeleine looks forward to studying nursing, a natural extension of her love for the biological sciences and her love for people, at her mother’s alma mater.

5. Catherine Riley of Chelsea, ME

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Catherine Riley of Chelsea, MECatherine Riley of Chelsea, ME, a Sonlighter since 2005, scored an impressive 1560 on her SAT. A National Merit Finalist, a black belt in karate, and on track to earn the AWANA Citation Award (awarded to those who memorize 836 verses and read the entire Bible, among other things), her mentors praise her tenacity, her organizational skills, her focus, and her character. “Catie is the kind of person we wish for when we dream up our heroes: smart, funny, hard-working, dependable as morning, principled, kind, respectful of others, self-controlled, and tougher than she looks.” She has served in various volunteer capacities: rebuilding a home after a national disaster, doing community outreach, lifeguarding at camp, serving as stage manager for local theater productions, helping in her dojo. And she has an adventurous side: driving a motor boat, paddle boarding, taking a flying lesson, climbing Mt. Katadin. In her next adventure, she looks forward to studying mathematics, in preparation for a career as an actuary.

6. Madison York of Juneau, AK

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Madison York of Juneau, AKMadison York of Juneau, AK, Sonlighting since 2005, scored an impressive 1490 on the SAT. A National Merit Finalist, she says, “My main dragon—my arch nemesis, as it were—is math. Not one second of teaching myself Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, and Calculus was easy. Even when I took Calculus I through the university for a prerequisite, I barely scraped an A minus. But it was strange: that A minus—which normally would have crushed the perfectionist in my soul—was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. The difficulty, the work, the negotiating-with-the-integrals-until-my-head-spun, was the mountain that did not conquer easy.” And so she looks forward to a physics major, so she can “study, discover, understand the universe—from the cosmos to the electron.” In her free time, she plays Mozart and Czerny, and serves as the church pianist (and says she’s taking “organ lessons so I can plunk even louder than before”). She is on track to earn the AWANA Citation Award. And she has run varsity cross country for the last three years, serving as Co-Captain during her senior year, where “she brought a persevering work ethic rainy day after rainy year to practice.”

7. Micah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Micah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, ILMicah Tseng of Hoffman Estates, IL, a Sonlighter since 2005, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was 18 months old and went through three years of chemo. After two years of physical therapy, he learned to walk again, but the chemo left him with learning disabilities in reading, writing, and spelling. Through grit and perseverance, though, he has, for many years, worked above grade level, and is currently taking college classes with no accommodations. Micah’s passion is live audio engineering (managing the sound board during an event, such as a church service), and he has spent hundreds of hours volunteering at his local church, making sure the mics work, that the balance from the different instruments and voices is aesthetically pleasing, and that there are no distractions to steal attention from the message and the worship. He has spent ten weeks each of the last two summers interning on the production teams of large churches, developing knowledge and skills. One mentor said, “I know of no other student his age with the maturity and drive to handle this kind of work and responsibility, willingly devoting so much time and passion to using his gifts in church ministry,” and spoke of his servant heart, his sense of integrity, his passion to learn, his heart for the Lord, and his creative thinking. Micah plans to continue his engineering studies when he heads to college in the fall.

8. Abigail B. of Slatington, PA

$4,000 Sonlight Scholarship Winner Abigail B. of Slatington, PAAbigail B. of Slatington, PA grew frustrated that her private school education was not offering her enough self-directed education. When she started Sonlight in 7th grade, she had time to add subjects that interested her, including languages, Biblical Greek, art, piano, and photography. In addition to working in the library and as a lifeguard, she has volunteered many weeks at several Christian summer camps, even serving as head cook—quite the responsibility for a high schooler! She has two uncles serving the Lord overseas, and her visits to them opened her eyes to the needs of the world. Abigail plans to study English, linguistics, and languages, in order to teach overseas. “I love to learn and do my school work, but my heart really lies in my desire to serve the Lord in a foreign country . . . to share the word of God until we can truly say that all have heard. My relationship with Christ has brought me through many rough times, and has given me more joy than anything else. I want everyone in the world to have the same opportunity to feel God’s love as I have. There is such a boundless well of joy and love and peace awaiting those who put their trust in Jesus.”

Could Your Young Learner Win a Sonlight Scholarship?

From preschool through high school graduation, Sonlight prepares your students. We have the big picture in mind, and we help you raise students prepared to launch into any career God calls them to. We share your desire to help your children succeed, and we’ll walk alongside to help you create the long-term educational experience you envision.

Did you know we've awarded more than $1 million to Sonlight graduates to date?
Each year, our charitable foundation offers thirteen college scholarships, ranging from $4,000 over four years, up to $20,000. The following four-year scholarships are available:

  • (1) $5,000/year
  • (4) $2,500/year
  • (8) $1,000/year

We offer scholarships on two tracks: one emphasizes academics, and the other creativity, missions-mindedness, and service. Got a perfect score on the SAT? Served overseas during summer vacation for the last three years but had only average scores on standardized tests? In either case, you may qualify.

Eligibility for college scholarships is one of the many SonlightCares benefits. Set your sights on a Sonlight scholarship!

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