News Story

Scholarship Program Honors the 'Whole Person'

By Andrea Graff, Class of 2012

Favour Ikome. Tino Velásquez García. Arvin Sepehr. Sarthak Nigam. Ricardo Tomé. They wouldn't be at Oral Roberts University without the Quest Whole Person Scholarship. This is their story . . .

'From nowhere to somewhere'

Favour Ikome found herself applying for the Quest Whole Person Scholarship at the urging of a school guidance counselor in California. She had been attending a community college there and was about to be denied attendance for another semester due to lack of funds. She had first heard of ORU by reading a book by Oral Roberts that was given to her by her pastor in West Africa several years earlier. She says she felt in her spirit that she should apply.

"I know that if you hear His voice, and you obey it, if you're still when He says, 'Be still,' and you move when He says, 'Move' He will take care of you. I wouldn't have been able to attend ORU [without the scholarship], but not only that -- I wouldn't have been able to go to school. I can't tell you what I would have been doing at this moment, right now," she said.

Ikome plans to use her degree in communication and her minor in theology as a way to effectively communicate hope to those who are hurting. After all, she is familiar with hurt herself.

As a young girl, she lost both of her parents. She recalls a life of poverty and says she often dealt with feelings of a loss of self-worth. She wants to use that memory of hopelessness to connect with others who feel the same way.

"God lifted me from nowhere to somewhere, and it happened because I came to the knowledge of who He is, knowing that nothing is impossible. But me knowing that doesn't mean that everyone who has been through the same situation I have knows that So my goal is to empower other young adults to know that He cares," she said.

Her plans to accomplish this goal include graduate school, but while she is working on her Ph.D., she also plans to begin setting the foundation for a youth training center. According to Ikome, the purpose of this center is to "get young people to come together, discover who they are and receive what they've been looking for in the wrong places."

The breath of life

The vision for Tino Velásquez García, a junior biology-premed major from Comayagua, Honduras, is to return to his country to help establish and provide affordable and accessible healthcare. This dream began when he was only a child and was born from his own experience.

One night, after an extreme asthma attack, he began hyperventilating and could hardly breathe. His mother carried him around the village, asking for a doctor. The only one available was hours away, and when they finally arrived at his home, he was not willing to help. After nearly 45 minutes of persistent begging by García's mother, the doctor gave García what was needed to calm his asthma.

Since then, García has been determined to help those who may not have resources or knowledgeable assistance available to them.

He also appreciates the distinctive purpose of the Quest Whole Person Scholarship program.

"This is a unique award because it doesn't just honor achievement in grades or test scores; it honors a person's commitment and discipline to leading a good life. It's good that that's being encouraged," he said.

García believes the award is not only beneficial for the student, but also for others who need to see commendable characteristics being honored.

"In this world, you don't see a lot of people appreciated for wholeness. Everything seems to have been divided discretely, as though every aspect of your life does not have any influence on the other. [But] people applying to this school are able to see the right examples of those persistently on the pursuit for wholeness. It gives other people an incentive to pursue it," he said.

Reshaping others' viewpoints

Sophomore engineering major Arvin Sepehr agrees. He believes becoming a whole person is something everyone should seek to accomplish.

"Becoming a whole person is becoming the person God meant for you to be. It's your purpose it's what life's about. And I don't think you can get that anywhere else," he said.

Sepehr, originally from Iran, was raised by an extremist Muslim father who became a pastor upon receiving Christ. Sepehr's father was persecuted for his faith, so he escaped from Iran with his family and moved to Tulsa.

Sepehr's goal upon completing his degree is to travel on missions, applying his engineering and speaking gifts to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of unreached people groups.

"My ultimate goal is to be instrumental in reshaping the way people see Christianity and Christian culture," he said.

Reducing poverty

Sarthak Nigam, a sophomore who was born in India and lived in Tanzania, East Africa, for 14 years before moving to the Democratic Republic of Congo, says that he works toward a similar life goal.

"Where I'm from in India, 86 percent are Hindus. So when I get an opportunity to minister and work there I want them to see Christ through me," he said.

Nigam and his family heard about ORU shortly after converting to Christianity. They were watching a Benny Hinn television show featuring Oral Roberts when the seed was planted in his heart to attend the University. Now an international community development major at ORU, Nigam wants to put his education to use by helping to decrease poverty within his home country of Tanzania.

"I want to hook up with a nonprofit organization there. Because I lived in Africa for so long, I really know how stuff works there. I had the opportunity to see poverty firsthand, and it has really motivated me to help these people make themselves self-sustaining," he said.

A seed for the future

The Quest Whole Person Scholarship students say they greatly appreciate the donors' willingness to assist them and other recipients in following God's call to attend ORU. Freshman biology premed major Ricardo Tomé says he has faith that their investment will pay off.

"It's not just an amount you're giving for right now; it's a seed for the future. It's a process, but you're sowing into a great place where people are learning more of God. It's not in vain," he said.

With a background similar to García's, Tomé experienced major health problems while living in Honduras, and now he hopes to return in order to assist others living in poverty.

Besides the financial aspect of the scholarship, Tomé appreciates the spiritual opportunities it has brought him as well.

"The opportunity of being here -- it's pretty much a God-given gift, seriously. I was raised in a Christian environment, and I wanted to stay in that environment. So I thank God I'm here," he said.

Eternal significance

Favour Ikome says the donors are opening doors for students that otherwise might have never been opened, and as a result, are helping these future world-changers to fulfill God's purposes.

"The fact that they believe in us -- that's very encouraging, and it's saving a lot of lives. They're making people available for God to use them," she said.

Sarthak Nigam also recognizes the eternal significance of what Quest Whole Person Scholarship donors are doing.

"They're truly sowing into God's Kingdom for people like me. They've definitely played a part in completing the Lord's work in my life," he said.

To make a gift or nominate a student, click here.