By Jade Mardirosian
Baylor and the School of Social Work received a $3.6 million endowment for the Global Mission Leadership program Thursday.
The program brings international students to Baylor to receive a Master’s degree in social work.
Baylor parents Carl and Martha Linder donated the money for the establishment of the Carl and Martha Linder Global Mission Leadership Initiative Endowed Fund.
Jennifer Smyer, director of Global Mission Leadership, said the endowment will enable the program, which was first funded by a grant in 2008, to move forward.
“The endowment is a huge blessing,” Smyer said. “It means that the infrastructure of the program can continue and now we can spend energy and focus on raising scholarships for students in the future. [The Linders] have an amazing heart for the world.”
Smyer said the funds will secure administrative support for the program and endow a faculty position for the program.
There are currently five students enrolled in the Global Mission Leadership program from different countries in southeast Asia.
Three students are working on dual social work and divinity degrees, in conjunction with George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
The other two students are working solely on master’s of social work degrees.
Smyer said the students enrolled in the program are committed to returning to their home countries to implement what they have learned through the program.
“The vision of the program is to bring global leaders here who have been transformed by the love of God and want to work in service,” Smyer said. “The program allows them to take all of their course concepts and think about what it would look like in their home countries.”
Smyer said students in the program have the necessary skills needed to face challenging issues in their home countries.
“They have a combination of a clear calling to service to their people along with a strategic thinking capacity to see change,” Smyer said.
Joshua Tan, a Baptist minister from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, began studying through the Global Mission Leadership program this semester.
“I think the program is wonderful and superb,” Tan said. “It has involved me in areas I need most, like working with impoverished populations, and it exposes me to social welfare programs that give me a model that I can apply back home.”
Tan said he has learned how to organize educational and social programs, which he hopes to apply to his community in Malaysia when he returns.
“My focus is sustainable community development in terms of economic and social issues, and I am interested in dealing with poverty issues in Asia,” Tan said.
Smyer said the students enrolled in the Global Mission Leadership program are completely engaged within the school.
“They teach us just as much as we are teaching them,” Smyer said. “They have had a tremendous impact on our school.”