Last Year's Winner

McQuilkin Scholarship Winner


Abigail Cotton, 2014 R.C. McQuilkin Scholarship WinnerAbigail Cotton of Hickory, North Carolina was checking her voice messages when she let out a scream and started crying. Her mother thought the worst – who died? Her father rushed to her side. The only words Abigail could muster through her tears were, “President Jones.” Immediately her parents realized Abigail’s tears were tears of happiness. While Abigail was celebrating her 18th birthday on a hike with her friends and out of cell phone range, Columbia International University President Bill Jones had left her a message congratulating her on being named the 2014 R.C. McQuilkin Scholarship winner – a full-tuition scholarship to CIU.

Abigail, who is homeschooled, participated in the R.C. McQuilkin Scholarship Weekend competition Nov. 13-15 on the CIU campus. She was joined by 60 other high school seniors from 10 states, plus one from Japan and one from Ukraine. They took part in intense interview sessions, fun group activities and social events.

Abigail, who relates to others with an outgoing and bubbly personality, thanks the Lord for winning the competition, but was planning on enrolling at CIU regardless of the outcome.  

“It was a double confirmation of what God has for me, and I accept it as a gift from Him,” Abigail said in a phone interview.

Abigail says she will likely major in Intercultural Studies, but is also interested in CIU’s new Honor’s Program, English and would even like to stick around for a graduate degree in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Her long-term goal after graduation is reaching Muslims with the gospel, a leading from the Lord she received after taking trips with her family to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

“When people ask me (about my future plans) I just say I left my heart in the desert,” Abigail explains.

Abigail is also looking forward to strengthening her passion for Christian apologetics while at CIU. Earlier this year she took second place in the Apologetics category at the national finals of The National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) competition held in Virginia. For her, Abigail says apologetics is “a huge deal.”

In addition, she wants to learn more about CIU’s core value of Victorious Christian Living.

“That is something my family has taught me, and that is a very distinctive thing about CIU that I love,” Abigail explains. “I want to grow in that when I’m there.”

And she wants everyone to know she is on her way to Columbia, South Carolina.  

“I’m just excited to see what the Lord is going to do with me at CIU to grow me more in Him,” Abigail concludes. “I‘m just excited to see what happens.”