Lansdowne, VA - Abigail Zavala’s desire to give back to her community through studying psychology stems from her own personal experience with childhood trauma and abuse. Now, thanks to a full tuition scholarship to Regent University, that desire can become a reality.
“I’ve been through a lot of trauma in my life,” Abi said, alluding to childhood sexual abuse and the violence she suffered in a marriage she has since escaped. It was through community organizations, including her local pregnancy center, that Abi found help and the courage to choose healing.
“I really want to give back to my community and help other people who need support and need help with what they’re going through,” she explained. A bachelors in Psychology from Regent University will be exactly what she needs to realize that goal.
Abi was nominated for the Regent Scholarship by Nancy Paltzer, the Client Services Director at Caring Pregnancy Center in Mason City, IA. Nancy praised Abi for being, “consistently hard working,” and, “motivated to improve her life and that of her children.”
Abi came to Caring Pregnancy Center six years ago, pregnant and a victim of intimate partner violence. “When I first came to this center I felt relief because they were very caring, they were very respectful of my beliefs, they validated my feelings, they gave me a support system,” she said.
Now, she's a survivor with a powerful story. Since receiving the compassion, hope, and help offered through Caring Pregnancy Center, she has referred numerous other women to the center. She also obtained certification as an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) trainer and has since trained the staff at Caring Pregnancy Center and other community organizations to identify the signs of ACE and better serve affected clients.
Abi accepted the scholarship at Care Net’s 26th annual conference in St. Louis, MO on September 6, 2019. Abi was joined by Jo Hafermann, Executive Director of Caring Pregnancy Center and Renee Schaefer, Abi’s Client Mentor. Kathleen Patterson, Director of the Doctorate of Strategic Leadership Program at Regent University and Care Net board member presented the scholarship. Care Net Vice President of Center Services and Client Care Cindy Hopkins was also present.
Care Net and Regent University intend to award another full-ride scholarship at next year’s Care Net National Conference in Orlando, FL, September 8-11, 2020. The application process will begin next summer.
In a competitive process, clients are nominated by their local pregnancy center, submitting applications that are reviewed by a scholarship committee. The successful applicant demonstrates strong leadership potential, determination, academic aptitude, and the ability to thrive in Regent's rigorous program.
Founded in 1975, Care Net supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation's only real-time call center providing pregnancy decision coaching. Since 2008, Care Net centers have saved over 603,000 unborn lives from abortion. Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through its life-affirming network of pregnancy centers, organizations, and individuals. Learn more at www.care-net.org.
Eve Gleason contributed to this article.