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Evangel graduates receive Anne Spence Award for character and service

Published on May 10, 2022 by Erin Hedlun

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Evangel University graduates Abigail Miller and Agnieszka “Aga” Milczarek are the recipients of the 2022 Anne Spence Award for Meritorious Christian Character and Service. The awards were presented during Evangel’s annual baccalaureate ceremony on May 5.

Each year, faculty and staff members nominate deserving graduating seniors for the award. Two students are selected by a committee of faculty, staff, and student leaders.

“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.

“It provides a venue for rewarding and affirming students for reasons other than solely academic or athletic accomplishment.”

Abigail Miller, Anne Spence award winner

Abigail Miller

 “Abbie is an amazing student who manages her time effectively to succeed in every class at EU and Cox College,” Erica Harris, associate professor of biology, said. “She consistently displays a positive, humble attitude as she interacts with faculty and students in her classes.”

Miller, a health care major, is a high academic achiever, and much of her involvement at Evangel reflects her passion for learning and helping others grow in their studies. Miller served for three years as a tutor and academic coach in the university’s Center for Student Success and as the president of the EU Nursing Society.

Much like her scholastic endeavors, Miller chose extracurricular pursuits where she could uplift and encourage others. As a Launch Leader, Miller assisted new students as they acclimated to campus life during orientation, and also served the women of Burgess Hall as the secretary of the hall council.

“She embodies the joy of the Lord with her beautiful smile and willingness to serve others in any way possible,” Harris said.

Miller, a Camdenton, Missouri, native, cites Evangel’s rich community life as integral to her spiritual and personal formation.

“My faith has been nurtured by the EU community in a way that has equipped and prepared me to work in a world that so desperately needs the hope of Jesus,” Miller said. “I have experienced the fullness of friendship and camaraderie with individuals who have now become my lifelong friends.”

Now graduated, Miller will begin work as a nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Cox Medical Center South in Springfield. She hopes to eventually attend graduate school and become a nurse practitioner.

“I am continually blessed and blown away by the generosity of the EU community,” Miller said. “My time at EU has been a sweet gift from God, and every day I am thankful that He led me to this special place.”

Agnieszka “Aga” Milczarek, Anne Spence award winner

Agnieszka “Aga” Milczarek

Agnieszka Milczarek, called “Aga” by many at Evangel, hails from Poland and found her way to Evangel after spending time in the United States as a foreign exchange student in high school. At EU, Milczarek says she found a community that became a new home.

“I have grown and learned so much in these last four years academically but also spiritually,” Milczarek said. “I have learned how to lead well, walk through life with people, honor them, and most importantly, I have fallen more in love with Jesus.”

Milczarek, a biology major, is dedicated to her academic pursuits. She was a teaching assistant in the Natural and Applied Sciences Department, a member of the Sigma Zeta National Honor Society, and an EU Scholar.

Outside the classroom, Milczarek served as a resident assistant in Burgess Hall, a role she treated not as an employment position, but a higher calling.

“I have witnessed Aga bring light and life to all she encounters,” Aimee Short, Burgess Hall residence director, said. “Whether it is through the kindness of leading her peers on the RA team or meeting with a student in crisis, Aga represents Christ in all she does. I have witnessed Aga walk with students through difficult situations time and again.”

Milczarek’s heart for sacrificial service was displayed when Short contracted a severe case of COVID-19, leading to a 45-day battle with the virus. Milczarek selflessly took on the role of residence director in Short’s absence.

“Everything was completed with excellence,” Short said. “The RA team did not suffer. The new students arriving to Burgess were welcomed warmly. Returning students were checked in properly. Our building continued functioning without a single issue under Aga’s leadership. There is no one I trust more to handle that situation. Aga welcomed the challenge and conducted herself masterfully.”

Milczarek plans to obtain a doctoral degree in genetics, enabling her to pursue research in the field of gene therapy.

“My experience at Evangel has been such a sweet season that can be called a gift from the Lord,” Milczarek said. “This place feels like home, and I truly believe that the time I spent here has shaped who I am. Now I get to take all that I have learned and go into the world to represent Jesus for the rest of my life.”

Anne Spence and Dr. Robert H. Spence

The Anne Spence Award

Anne Spence served as vice president of the Evangel University Advocates (then auxiliary) throughout the 40 years her husband, Dr. Robert H. Spence, was EU’s president. She helped raise millions of dollars for campus projects and scholarships, and she was often referred to as Evangel’s greatest student recruiter.

In addition to an engraved plaque and a monetary gift, awardees also received a certificate, white cord, and medallion to wear at the baccalaureate and commencement ceremonies.

Previously called the Silver Shield Award, the honor was renamed the Anne Spence Award  by Evangel’s board of directors in 2013 to honor her 40 years of service to the Evangel community.



About Evangel University

Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.