Scholarship Honors Parents, Supports Students

When Ruth Bussert ’65 Gibbs and her brother, Joel Bussert ’67, established the Luella and Walter Bussert Endowed Scholarship, they were honoring their parents and providing scholarship support to Valpo students. Dig a little deeper on why they created the fund, and it will be clear they wished to recognize their mother, who was considered to be a “model pastor’s wife.” They also designated their preference for the scholarship to be awarded to a female student who was preparing for a career in the Lutheran church.

Ruth and Joel grew up in the Midwest, where their father served as a Lutheran pastor in Harvel, Illinois, from 1940-49, Pekin, Illinois, from 1949-62, and then in Champaign, Illinois, until 1976. While their entire family was involved with the church, Ruth and Joel said their mother and father were a team. For a pastor to be successful, he must have a strong partner. She was focused on church activities and supported him every way possible.

Like the Bussert siblings, the first recipient of the Luella and Walter Bussert Endowed Scholarship, Madelyn “Maddie” Koenig ’19, was raised in the Lutheran church as a pastor’s child. Her father is the pastor at Light of Christ Church in Algonquin, Illinois. She says the church was her second home, and she was involved with many of its activities and programs.

Although Maddie grew up in the Lutheran church, she says it was not until her junior year in high school that she realized her calling was to work in ministry. As she and her family began visiting colleges, she felt Valpo was a place she could call home — and the Bussert Scholarship helped make that possible.

“Thanks to the scholarship, my dream of attending Valparaiso University became a reality,” said Maddie.

Given Maddie’s background and interest, and Ruth and Joel’s intent for the scholarship, it might be difficult to find a more deserving student to be the initial recipient of the award. Maddie received the scholarship for the sophomore through senior years of her active studies and extracurricular involvement at Valpo. In addition to participating in groups such as Campus Crusade for Christ, SALT, Sweetwine, and Sisters in the Spirit, Maddie also served as a resident assistant and an admissions tour guide.

She graduated summa cum laude in May 2019 with a bachelor of arts in theology and a minor in business administration. Maddie has begun her professional career as the 6th grade pastor at Faithbridge Church in Spring, Texas, where she interned for the past two summers. She says her Valpo education has prepared her for the future. She used to be scared to look beyond graduation but no longer feels that way, as she now knows Valpo had been preparing her for the future beginning the first day she stepped on campus.