Student Stories

Through Calvin Theological Seminary student stories, we are reminded in fresh ways why theological education matters.

Adam Sculnik

Master of Divinity (MDiv), online student

Adam Sculnik is a future pastor, published author, apologist, and loving husband and father. He lives with his family in south Florida, where he works for and attends Sunlight Community Church. His work to establish the Christ In Action Boys Club now helps boys and their fathers the world over to know, love and serve Jesus and their local church.

At the scholarship dinner, Adam shared how when he was a new Christian, still rebuilding his marriage and relationship with his children, he sensed the call to go to seminary. Though he was without an undergraduate degree or a significant salary to help him fund graduate education, he pursued that call. First he connected with his pastor, then entered the seminary application process, and finally saw God open doors for admission and financial aid. Adam is now finishing his Master of Divinity (MDiv) online, funded significantly through donor support.


Jilanne German

Master of Divinity (MDiv), on-campus student

Jilanne German, a native Nebraskan, entered the residential MDiv program at Calvin Seminary in the fall of 2020 after serving a year at a CRC church as the interim youth and young adult director. She has also taken advantage of many opportunities to learn and grow outside of the classroom. This has included serving as a food pantry student coordinator, taking travel courses to Turkey and Israel, and working as a teaching assistant for a Calvin Prison Initiative class. She also is serving as the middle school youth director at Westend CRC. Jilanne will be graduating this spring and plans to move to Uganda in the fall to teach at a seminary as a partner missionary through Resonate Global Missions.

Jilanne gave the audience an image of her childhood summers spent with her grandparents, who lived across the country. When she traveled from her home in arid Nebraska to their hobby farm in Michigan, she soaked in the beautiful greenery. But at times she got overwhelmed by the weeds…and almost missed the house of sunflowers her grandfather had prepared for her visit. He had carefully planted and tended to the flowers, so they were ready in advance for Jilanne to enjoy. Similarly, Jilanne challenges us to look for the sunflowers God has prepared in our lives, even in a world where the weeds of sin and hurt can seem overwhelming. Thanks to scholarship support, and personal connection with a scholarship donor, Jilanne has been encouraged throughout her MDiv program.


Ruan Bessa

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) student

Ruan Bessa was born and raised in south Brazil. He descends from a family of slaves on his father's side and Portuguese immigrants on his mother's side. His dad was an alcoholic and his mom was dedicated to host spirits at the age of 7 in a prominent African matrix religion in Brazil called “Candomblé.” Drawn to faith by the powerful way the Lord set his parents free, Ruan professed faith at the age of 14. At 19, he went to seminary to better understand Scripture. Believers around him began to affirm teaching gifts in his life and so he came to Calvin Seminary to continue his theological education in order to serve the Church as a teacher. Out of the pains and struggles in his own moral biography, and attention to the moral challenges and opportunities the Church faces today, he joined the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program with a focus on moral theology. He is currently writing his dissertation on the role of Scripture in Christian ethics in the thought of Oliver O’Donovan, and searching for teaching opportunities in the area.

Ruan shared at the scholarship dinner that when he entered Calvin Seminary as an aspiring scholar, he felt certain what he had to say would forever change the theological field. Here at Calvin Seminary, he said he was affirmed in his giftings but also grew in learning through humility, leaning on scholars who have gone before him to gain further wisdom in his studies. He noted Calvin Seminary is a place where students can continue to grow in knowledge—with wisdom, delight, and God’s love that builds up. Ruan is completing his PhD program thanks to the faithful giving of seminary supporters.

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