Posts Tagged ‘Army National Guard’

Craig ThurberIf you were to ask Craig Thurber about his lifelong goal, he may simply answer, “Be better.” With the assistance of a $3,000 Lockheed Martin/ThanksUSA scholarship, the Army National Guard dependent is attending Southwestern College where he is pushing himself to be a better student, a better athlete, and an all-around better person.

A natural athlete, Craig is pursuing a degree in Athletic Training. “I intend to utilize this degree and work as an Athletic Trainer while going to Physical Therapy school. I enjoy helping others and am excited to work in a health care/sports environment.” To compliment his studies, Craig is actively involved with various sports teams. He’s a linebacker for the Southwestern Moundbuilders and will play intramural basketball in the offseason.


Craig with his biggest fans–his sisters!

Though sports and education are important to Craig, family is paramount. In 2006, Craig’s stepfather, MSG Bernard Deghand, was killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan. Only ten years old at the time, Craig challenged himself to be a father figure to his youngest sister. He developed a drive to succeed and lead by example, a drive to “be better.”

Craig mentions that he would want his stepfather to be proud of the man he is becoming. “I honor his memory by kneeling and talking to him on the football field right before each game. I also have a photo of him in my dorm room. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

There is no doubt that MSG Deghand would be proud of Craig. He is succeeding as a scholar, an athlete, and a positive role model to his sister and fellow athletes. ThanksUSA is honored to award scholarships to deserving students like Craig Thurber.

“Thank you very much for supporting me and helping me to be better.” — Craig Thurber, Southwestern College class of 2017


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In March of 2011, Hills Bros. Coffee and ThanksUSA kicked off the Hills Bros. Homefront Heroes campaign. Coffee drinkers across the country purchased specially marked cans of Hills Bros. Coffee in support of ThanksUSA Scholarships. The campaign was huge success and over $150,000 in scholarships are being awarded to the children and spouses of our military heroes! This week, I’m honored to introduce one of the Hills Bros. Homefront Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarship recipients, Dominic Wetzbarger.


Dominic’s father, David, dedicated 28 years of service to our nation as a member of the Army National Guard and recently retired as a Command Sergeant Major for the Recruiting Retention Battalion for the Iowa Army National Guard. Dominic is proud of his father’s military career and very appreciative of ThanksUSA and Hills Bros. for supporting our military family members.

“The $3,000 Hills Bros. Homefront Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarship will help me with my education by providing additional financial assistance. Scholarships help college students jump-start their career because they have less debt to worry about after college. When I start my own career, I will look to helping those college students in need of financial assistance, in other words giving back to the community,” says Dominic.

Currently in his junior year of Accounting and Business Management studies at Briar Cliff University, Dominic is looking forward to graduating with honors and earning enough credit hours to sit for the CPA exam. He then plans to earn his MBA and pursue a career as an accountant.

Dominic’s interest in accounting and business management grew from his experience at Hy-Vee, Inc. He started as a cashier and quickly moved to counting drawers. He was soon working as Cash Accountability, verifying that the cash amounts, checks, coupons, and charges balanced for the entire store. Dominic takes great pride in his responsibilities and reports that seeing a register balance out is quite satisfying.

This past summer Dominic interned with Hy-Vee, giving him even more insight to the accounting details of a business. He explains, “Every aspect of a business is essential to achieve success. My internship experience made me appreciate all that accountants do.”

Although dedicated to achieving academic success, Dominic always makes time for his athletic passion, soccer. He is a member of Briar Cliff University’s Men’s Soccer Team and helps coach the Bishop Heelen Boys Soccer team. Dominic is so dedicated to the sport that he plans to obtain his license to coach youth/young adult soccer. He says, “What’s important for soccer coaches at my age to do is to set an example and be a role model to the younger generation.”

Young soccer players will certainly benefit from having such a respectable coach. The ThanksUSA team is proud to support the educational pursuits of men and women like Dominic and we encourage you to share ThanksUSA’s mission with your friends and colleagues. To learn more about our scholarship recipients, subscribe to the Scholarship News blog and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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With the assistance of a $3,000 John (NMN) Coffey/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Jordan Bowden is completing his junior year of International Relations studies at Brigham Young University.

The Army National Guard dependent chose International Relations because he truly enjoys studying the cultures of different people and learning how and why they live the way they do. With interests in politics and world affairs, Jordan thinks that his undergraduate studies may lead to a career with the U.S. State Department or with the military, perhaps as an Army Attaché.

Jordan also speaks passionately about a mission to Mexico explaining, “The time I spent in Mexico has greatly influenced my life; there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that experience. An LDS mission is a two year commitment where you spend all of your time and energy preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The religious part aside, it was a life changing experience. I was able to spend two years of my life among a people who I did not know and really did not understand, (nor did they understand me for that matter) but I grew to love and respect their traditions and culture. The mission taught me about the great blessings and opportunities we have here in the U.S., it taught me to respect and love people of all nationalities and cultures, and it engrained in me a desire to reach out and help those less fortunate than myself.”

Though Jordan describes his mission as a life-changing event, his military upbringing played a significant role in building his confidence and inner strength which prepared him for college, his mission, and life as an adult. “My father’s military career has been a guiding influence in my life. It really has made me who I am today. Being the oldest I was greatly affected each time my dad was deployed. It caused me to take on a lot of responsibility and really learn well how to handle difficult situations. I believe it made me a stronger individual. I would say that overall the experience has been a positive one, but as with all things there are challenges.”

While Jordan is very committed to his family, faith, and studies, he still remains an easy-going undergrad. Recently, Jordan, along with his father and brother, was able to attend a Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz basketball game courtesy of ThanksUSA National Spokesperson Stephen Curry. In his spare time, Jordan enjoys rock climbing and playing the piano and he helps finance his education by working part-time at the BYU Office of Information Technology.

The Bowden Men at Warriors vs Jazz (photographing yourself is not easy!!)

Since beginning his undergraduate studies, Jordan has received a total of $6,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships and notes, “Without this scholarship, I seriously doubt that I would have been able to pursue a college degree without having to take out substantial student loans. Thank you to John (NMN) Coffey and everyone at ThanksUSA for allowing me the opportunity of an education, I hope that in the future I can repay the favor.”

Jordan is already a successful student and the ThanksUSA team wishes him continued success with all of his endeavors. We also wish to remind military dependents and spouses that applications for the 2012-2013 ThanksUSA Scholarship will be accepted through the ThanksUSA website from April 1st through May 15th. If you haven’t already, you can register for an email reminder here.

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This week, I’m proud to introduce the 2010 $3000 Mid-Atlantic Tennis Education Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship recipient, Stephanie Dulany. With plans to become a Physician’s Assistant, Stephanie is a Pre-Med Biology major at Drury University. Stephanie became interested in biological studies during her first middle school dissection lesson. Nurturing her scientific interests, Stephanie paid careful attention to her biology, anatomy, and physiology courses in high school. As she developed an understanding of the body, Stephanie realized that she would be happiest studying a major that would allow her to work in the medical field. “I find it fascinating to be able to see what lies beneath the skin and imagine how they function together to keep us alive,” says Stephanie.

Stephanie Dulany



With Physician’s Assistants in almost every specialty, Stephanie has many options to consider. She will complete her undergraduate studies at Drury and then continue on to a two-year Physician’s Assistant school. Though Stephanie is currently interested in physical therapy or surgery, she understands that as her curriculum expands, so to may her specialty interests. Before she entered Drury, she had considered a specialty in pediatrics. Though her heart was certainly in the right place, her emotions were not. Upon realizing that she may be faced with neglected or abused children, Stephanie knew that she was not mentally prepared for pediatrics.



Throughout high school Stephanie was very active with school sports, had a job, and maintained excellent grades. Currently, she is a member of the Drury Panthers Poms Squad and looks forward to expanding her campus activities as her college career progresses. I asked Stephanie about the importance of sports and extra curricular activities when pursuing an education. “I absolutely think that students can develop more discipline when there are more things on their plate because they are forced to become organized with their time. I find that if you are not involved in other activities outside of school, you have a lot of free time that gets wasted.”

Another lesson that Stephanie learned early was patience. Stephanie’s father was a member of the Army National Guard and spent many deployments and training missions away from his children. Though Stephanie had to be patient in accepting the demands of her father’s career, she always knew that he would be there for her – if not in person, in his heart. “When I was born, he was not able to be there because he was flight training. Since he could not be there, he gave me the wings he received from his training. Also on my 16th birthday, he was away again getting his second pair of wings and when he got back he gave those to me as well,” Stephanie recalls.

ThanksUSA appreciates the sacrifices made by military personnel and their families and is proud to support Stephanie in achieving her academic goals. We look forward to hearing of her continued success and wish her all the best at Drury!

“I just want to say thank you and let you know how much I appreciate this scholarship. It has really assisted in my college expenses. With tuition, classes, and dorm stay, college can get pretty expensive and this scholarship helped make it happen for me to able to attend the college of my choice.” Stephanie Dulany

You can support students like Stephanie by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to 85944 to make your $10 donation.


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Everyone smiles in the same language and Victoria Hokanson wants to make sure that children are able to smile with confidence. With the help of a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Victoria has begun her Chemistry studies at the University of San Diego. After completing her undergraduate studies, Victoria plans to attend dental school and eventually open her own orthodontics practice.

Victoria Hokanson


Victoria wished to extend her gratitude to the ESA Foundation for funding her ThanksUSA scholarship saying, “Receiving this scholarship was such an honor. I was set on attending USD knowing that I would be undertaking the burden of student loans. The ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship has helped to reduce the amount of money that I had to take out in loans and will ultimately help me in the long run when I am trying to pay off student loans and start my own practice.”

I think you’ll agree that Victoria has a beautiful smile, but according to her, this was not always the case. When she was five years old, Victoria ran into a table and damaged her entire row of front teeth. Since she was just five years old, she had to wait several years until orthodontics were an option.


Victoria explains, “A smile is the first that I notice when I meet someone. Before braces, I was very self-conscious about the way that my teeth looked and I was embarrassed to smile. Needless to say, braces changed my life. They straightened my teeth and made me less self-conscious about smiling in front of others. Since then, I have been interested in making that difference in the lives of other children who suffer from a lack of confidence because of their smile. I loved my orthodontist and would like to be like him in the future. In ten years, I hope to have completed dental school and opened my own dental or orthodontic practice.”

As the daughter of an Army National Guardsman, Victoria is used to embracing change and credits her military upbringing with making the college transition easier. “I definitely think that military life prepared me for college. I miss my family dearly, but the transition was much easier because I have been accustomed to moving frequently. It was not that different from any other move.” Now, just two months into life as an undergrad, Victoria has already joined the USD Dental Club and is in the process of applying to be in the Student Ambassador’s Club. She also plans to join a sorority during the spring semester.

Although most military dependents find the college transition less stressful, the reasons for this vary greatly. I asked Victoria to speak a bit about her own family’s military experience and she proudly responded, “Life as a military child is different from growing up as a civilian child. My father was PCS’d frequently so my family and I moved just about every year until I began high school. I attended 10 schools and have moved 11 times. This has made it very easy for me to adapt to my surroundings and helped to give me confidence to go out of my way to meet others and work for something if I want it. For the most part I loved moving and wouldn’t have done it any differently if I had the choice. The opportunities I was exposed to outweighed any struggle. In high school my dad was a part of the search and rescue team who saved stranded hikers or people lost in the wilderness. Knowing the impact he had on the lives of those people and their families made me very proud to be a part of a military family. I have become very patriotic, mainly from my experience living on base and attending ceremonies. What the military and their families sacrifice for our country is incredible and I become more grateful of our country and its military every day.”

Thank you, Victoria, ThanksUSA and our sponsors/supporters feel the same way about our nation and military families! ThanksUSA is honored to be a part of your educational journey and we wish you all the best in completing your studies and bringing out the beautiful smiles of children!

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