Biola global leaders say their last hurrah

Biola’s soon-to-be-graduate global leaders celebrated their hard work and achievements.

Jenna Owens, Freelance Writer

Global Student Programs and Development proudly took time to recognize three global graduate students for receiving the Biola Graduate Leadership Scholarship on May 3 at the Giumarra Library Courtyard. According to the Cook School of Intercultural Studies’ website, the award is a full, tuition-only scholarship for graduate students with the vision of partnering with high-impact global leaders in ministries, missions agencies and key areas of influence. It is a competitive scholarship that awards only four or five international students every year.


The three recipients of the scholarship are graduate students at the Cook School of Intercultural Studies. Habtamu Umer, George Shakwelele and Jacob Daniel, each expressed their appreciation for the education and community they received while attending Biola.

Umer started his graduate studies at Biola in 2014 and will be graduating this spring. He is currently part of a team of 13,000 pastors who seek to provide curricular resources and a platform for pastors and church leaders in Africa and beyond. Umer plans to stay in the U.S. for the next year before moving to Ethiopia for a year. Umer thanked his professors, the Biola community and God for blessing him with learning opportunities.

“Students, please use all the resources here. You may not find a golden opportunity like this to prepare and invest in our lives,” Umer said at the event.

A graduate student since 2017, Shakwelele recalled his teaching assistant experience. A student in one of his classes once asked to pray for him because he looked stressed, which Shakwelele described as humbling. After graduating, Shakwelele will still be a part of Biola’s community, as his wife Prisca is continuing as a student in the TESOL certificate program. He also plans to become a teacher at an institution.

“It’s a miracle that I’m standing here. In a few days, I will be walking [at graduation]. It’s God’s doing, therefore glory and honor goes [to] him,” Shakwelele said at the event.

Daniel started as a graduate student in 2014. He spoke about his ministry Heritage Counsel, which he began during his time at Biola. Daniel is working with seven organizations in over 10 nations to bridge the gap between global churches and engage with the cultures of those countries. The vision for Heritage Counsel is to equip biblically minded global leaders to be a strong voice of truth, emphasizing the balance between faith and reason.

“What I wish to do with the degree is to use it in both academic and non-academic settings to create Christian influencers who will undertake the task of doing proper cultural exegesis,” Daniel said at the event.


Shortly afterward, GSPD administrative coordinator Noelle Delacruz and global graduate coordinator Samuel Svensson discussed ideas they would like to incorporate for global students in the future. The team hopes to actively encourage community between the global graduate students and the rest of Biola, allowing graduates to mentor students on campus.

“We’re really hoping to bolster the program so that the scholars who receive the [Biola Global Leadership] scholarship are more involved with campus and being more present and seen on campus,” Delacruz said.  

GSPD is also adding a one-year program for global students starting in the upcoming fall semester, which will include an essay and presentation about how each student’s field of study connects with their culture. The program aims to promote research on topics that are not often talked about in the United States, including subjects like polygamy and ancestral worship.

“These are people coming with a cultural background that is different and they are going to go back into their culture, so helping them stay connected with their own cultures will be beneficial,” Svensson said.

0 0 votes
Article Rating