SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Evangel University graduates Melissa Rivera and Andreas Moeller were honored during the 2019 Baccalaureate ceremony as recipients of the Anne Spence Award for Meritorious Christian Character and Service.
Previously called the Silver Shield Award, it was renamed the Anne Spence Award by the Board of Directors in 2013 to honor the wife of Evangel’s 40-year president, Dr. Robert H. Spence.
The award was presented this year at the baccalaureate service by Dr. Jon Spence, director of the Center for Student Success at Evangel and son of the Spences, both of whom were present and met the honored students.
• Melissa Rivera
“I have come to understand the great legacy of Anne Spence, and could not be more honored to be this year’s recipient,” said Melissa Rivera, reflecting on the award.
Rivera earned her BBA in Nonprofit Business & Social Enterprise, with a management emphasis. Following graduation, she began a project-based internship at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
After that, “I would love to continue my education in either nonprofit law or community development,” she said.
Born in San Francisco, Melissa is the daughter of Alex and Lisa Rivera from Martinez, California.
During her time at Evangel, she has filled a resume full of experiences and describes her time there as “limitless.”
She served as a freshman senator in the Student Government Association; volunteered as an organizer of the Springfield Student Leadership Summit; was a member of the Green Dot Programming Team; served as a resident assistant in Spence Hall for two years; and was as a member of the Crosswalk (student ministry) Executive Board.
Rivera also founded the Evangel University Nonprofit Business & Social Enterprise Club; participated in a spring break mission trip to Bolivia; and through it all, was disciplined enough to volunteer at her local church, Cox Hospital and Victory Mission.
“I have loved how EU has challenged me spiritually both in and out of my major,” Rivera said. “It has been a holistic experience of growth, guided by professors, faculty, staff and peers.”
• Andreas Moeller
“The desire to please, honor and serve the Lord is what dictates the course of my life,” said Moeller. “I feel as though this award is an affirmation of that pursuit.”
A native of Hebo, Oregon, Andreas is the son the Rev. Lonny and Crystal Moeller, who have pastored Hebo Christian Center for more than 25 years.
Earning a double major at Evangel is a challenge for most students.
As a student, Moeller was a captain of the football team, participated as a member of Psi Chi and the Sandbox prayer team, and worked in the Klaude Kendrick Library.
He also worked as a life coach in I Pour Life, a nonprofit organization founded and led by Evangel graduate Julie Higgins. He was in their LifeStrengths program, which is designed to help at-risk youth who are aging out of the foster care system, living in generational poverty, or are young adult offenders.
Following graduation, he has transitioned to full-time employment with I Pour Life,
“Evangel has been a place of great shaping and growth for me,” Moeller said. “I am glad that I have had the privilege to give back.”
About the Anne Spence Award
“The purpose of this award is to recognize students who demonstrate outstanding and meritorious acts of Christian service or displays of Christian character that reflect the highest ideals of the University and the Church,” said Gina Rentschler, director of community life at Evangel University.
“It provides a venue for rewarding and affirming students for reasons other than solely academic or athletic accomplishment.”
Two graduating seniors, one female and one male, receive the award annually. Each receives a certificate, white cord and medallion to wear at the baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies.
The Anne Spence Award also includes an engraved plaque and monetary gift, presented by Dr. & Mrs. Spence or their designee.
Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel serves more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.