Posts Tagged ‘biology’

With a passion for the environment, Haley Schaeffer plans to advance upon the work of great conservationists like Jane Goodall, Steven Amstrup, and John Muir. The Coast Guard dependent was awarded a $3,000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship to pursue her Conservation Biology Degree at St. Lawrence University.

Haley SchaefferHaley explains, “Climate Change and Environmental Devastation are two things which I have become personally invested in the past several years.” Before graduating high school, she had already volunteered over 1800 hours as a ZooTeen at the Oregon Zoo, served as an ambassador for the Johnson Creek Watershed, and was president of her high school’s Conservation Corps. .

This past summer, Haley traveled to Costa Rica where use volunteered with the Sea Turtle Restoration Center. When the fall term started, she was eager to involve herself in campus activities that would supplement her major. She joined the Environmental Action Organization which works to keep the St. Lawrence campus environmentally responsible. “We attended the national Powershift Conference, which really helped to open my eyes to how most of the social and environmental issues prevalent today are connected. It was great to see so many people who are taking action!”


Taken in Costa Rica near the Sea Turtle Restoration Center

Haley is also embracing the natural beauty of the surrounding Adirondacks. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, as well as working on local communes. “Being involved in nature inspires me to do my part to protect the ecosystems that I am in.”

Haley’s father, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Daniel Schaeffer, retired from the Coast Guard after serving during a span of over thirty years. “I respect him and am proud of his contribution to our armed forces. It makes me even more driven to do my part to protect our natural environment as he did the people and resources of our rivers and coast lines.”

Ultimately, Haley plans to continue her education, earning a Master’s in Wildlife Management and a Doctorate in Conservation Biology and Ecology. Since Haley’s experiences thus far have only strengthened her desires to advance conservation efforts, the ThanksUSA team is confident that she will reach her goals and likely inspire fellow students along the way.

“Since being named a recipient of the ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship, my dream of majoring in Conservation Biology is becoming a realty. Thank you so much again for your contribution! I could not have attended this school if it were not for kind people and organizations such as you.”

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Congratulations to ThanksUSA scholars Karen and Brittany Butler! This mother/daughter duo each earned degrees from Valdosta State University and proudly walked the stage together. Karen says, “It was a great moment in my life to share something so special with my daughter!”


karen and brittany grad 2013

Karen, spouse of MSGT Kevin Butler, USAF RET, has received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $6,000 for her undergraduate studies at Valdosta State University.  Karen received a KPMG LLC/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2011 and an EADS/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2012.

She recently completed her Associates of Art in Business Administration and will continue her studies to earn her BA in Accounting with certification in both Healthcare Administration and Human Resources.

Kevin and Karen’s daughter, Brittany, also received $6,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships for her Biology major at Valdosta State.  She received a Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2010 and an EMC Corp/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2011.

This May, Brittany graduated from the Valdosta State University Honors College. She received Summa Cum Laude honors and earned her BA in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

ThanksUSA is proud to support our deserving military families and we hope you will join us in congratulating both Brittany and Karen on a job well done – Way to go ladies!!

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Thanks to generous sponsors Lockheed Martin, ESA Foundation, and The Jenzabar Foundation, Air Force dependent Ashtin Jeney received $12,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships to pursue her Biology/Pre-Med studies at Carroll College. Now that she has completed her undergraduate studies, Ashtin is busy applying to medical schools throughout the United States. In a few weeks, Ashtin will travel to Graz, Austria, for a two-month hospital internship. When she returns to the states, she hopes to intern with either the Senate Finance Committee or the Senate Health Committee.


Ashtin may look familiar to regular Scholarship News readers…she has graciously volunteered for several ThanksUSA outreach opportunities over the past four years, meeting and speaking with sponsors, sharing her academic goals with supporters, and even appearing in a ThanksUSA video – thanks Ashtin!!

ThanksUSA is proud to support academic achievers like Ashtin and we are always happy to share their stories with you. Be sure to check back next week for another 2012 graduate feature.

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This week’s featured scholar, Eric Witt, has persevered despite the loss of his father. With the assistance of a $3,000 Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Eric has completed his freshman year of studies at Otterbein College and has set his sights on becoming a Marine Biologist.

Eric’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel J. Witt, U.S. Air Force, honorably served his country as a pilot for twenty years. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he received numerous awards and though his service record is extensive, his children remember him as a loving father, and an avid distance runner and fisherman who enjoyed grilling and cooking.

One trait that Eric inherited from his father is athleticism. Although he has just begun his college journey, Eric is playing for the Otterbein Tennis Team. Eric loves the sport, but is quick to point out, “I’m a student-athlete; student first and athlete second.” Eric says that his coach is a great mentor and emphasizes the importance of academics by encouraging his team to keep up their grades in order to be eligible to play. Eric adds, “Balancing schoolwork with teamwork is what being a student-athlete is about. Being able to be involved in a few things on campus is rewarding, and it is a good way to make friends.”

As he prepares for his sophomore year, Eric is more committed to his major field of study, biology. He plans to first earn his B.S. Biology and then pursue graduate studies with a concentration in Marine Biology. Eric says that a fascination with marine life, a desire to explore the unknown, and endless curiosity are driving his academic ambitions. He adds that he feels a need, “to contribute something useful to society in the way of science or medicine in my discoveries.”

Although Eric has been busy wrapping up his freshman year of studies and prepping for the Fall semester, he has taken the time to apply for the 2012-2013 ThanksUSA Scholarship. We remind all college-bound military dependent children and spouses to apply before the May 15th deadline. Complete details can be found on the 2012 ThanksUSA Scholarship Program page of our website.

The Witt Family (L to R) Eva, Eric, Lisa, Peter

The ThanksUSA team is confident that Eric’s determination, combined with the loving support of his family, will lead to his academic success. We look forward to following up with him throughout his undergraduate studies and leave you with a message from Eric:

“I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for my selection as a recipient of the Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship. I am truly honored by your efforts to support families of military members by enabling dependents to pursue higher education.” – Eric Witt

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With the assistance of a $3,000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Air National Guard dependent Alyssa Brown has taken the first steps towards becoming a pediatric pulmonologist. As she finishes up her freshman year at Southern Utah University, Alyssa takes some time to speak about her exciting freshman year and why she is so determined to be a doctor.


When she was just five years old, Alyssa witnessed her two-year old sister suffer a near-fatal asthma attack while flying from New York to Utah. “Our flight had to be redirected to New Jersey so that she could receive basic medical treatment that was not available on the flight. As we were flying back to Utah, her condition worsened and she stopped breathing four separate times. During this stressful and dangerous time for my sister, I realized that I have asthma as well, along with numerous other people I know, and that we could be in similar situations at any time. It was then that I decided that I wanted to cure asthma so that I would never face the risk of losing my sister, or my father to asthma-related reasons again,” she explains.

The Brown Family

Alyssa is seeking a pre-medicine specialized degree in chemistry and has added minors in biology and anthropology. She mentions, “Undergraduate research, especially projects that I execute on my own with the assistance of a mentor, is critical to my ability of getting into Graduate School in the future.” Diving right in, Alyssa completed a number of research projects this past year including a Biomedical Ethics Survey, ecological diversity of Coal Creek and Rush Lake, and even predatory detection of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Working with the Dean of Chemistry, Alyssa has already established research projects for next year.

Often times, college serves as the transitional period from childhood to adult life as many students face those unanticipated “sink or swim” moments. Alyssa faced such a challenge when her residence hall was closed during her first midterms. She had to endure the added expense and time of moving while maintaining her grades. She quickly realized that in high-stress situations, she has the strength and resilience to carry on and succeed…invaluable traits of any physician.

Gaining such confidence in herself has inspired Alyssa to become very involved with her local community. She serves as a 4H mentor to sixth graders, works as a Student Teacher and America Reads Tutor, and is Treasurer of the Service Club at SUU. She is also President of the American Sign Language Club, and is a member of both the Anthropology Club and the Research team within the Michael Leavitt Center for Politics.

Alyssa visits beautiful Dubai

Alyssa’s dedication to her academics and community/campus involvement have not gone unnoticed. She was one of five women chosen to represent Utah at the Insight Dubai conference in Dubai, UAE. “It was life-changing,” says Alyssa. “I realized some of the preconceived notions and subconscious stereotypes that I carried and I was able to work on acknowledging and reversing those, while building meaningful and personal relationships with women across the globe. The most monumental thing that I have learned from the conference, I learned when I returned to Utah. It was shocking to hear others talk about my experience and their personal experience, often placing their own biases on the women and other individuals from the region, claiming that they were oppressed and forced to wear the abaya and were forced into their current cultural norms. It was shocking to examine because, having gone there, I realized that I had carried those personal biases, and having talked on a personal level with the women, I have realized how completely ignorant of their situation I was and how I can help to eliminate others’ ignorance by encouraging global relations and communication while spreading my own awareness and information,” she adds.

Having accomplished so much during her freshman year, Alyssa is certainly on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a pediatric pulmonologist. The ThanksUSA team wishes Alyssa continued academic success and we encourage her and all other college-bound military dependents and spouses to apply for the 2012-2013 ThanksUSA Scholarship. Applications are being accepted through May 15th and complete details can be found here. We conclude this week’s Scholarship News with a few words of thanks from Alyssa:

“I know that I can achieve anything if I attempt it wholeheartedly, and having the Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship has shown me that I am capable of more than I thought, and that I can be appreciative of my accomplishments because I am doing spectacular things at such a young age, and I can only imagine what the future holds.”

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Cameron Mahone

Army dependent Cameron Mahone has always considered himself a team player. He loves to meet new people and makes others feel at ease. Over the years, Cameron realized that his purpose in life is, as he says, “is to uplift others around me.”

Now with the assistance of a $3000 Altria Group/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship through ThanksUSA, Cameron has begun his pre-professional biology stdueis (minor in chemistry) at Arkansas State University. Cameron’s ultimate goal is to become an orthodontist.

Cameron explains that he took an early interest in teeth and had been considering a career in the dental field. During his early teen years, Cameron had orthodontic treatment. Prior to beginning eighth grade, Cameron’s braces were removed. The beautiful smile that he faced in the mirror was enough to convince him to become an orthodontist. He notes, “People have always been important to me growing up. What is better than helping individuals out daily and putting smiles on their faces?”

Midway through his freshman year, Cameron is already immersing himself in ASU culture. He is actively involved with campus Bible studies and is a running back for ASU Red Wolves football. Cameron is looking forward to becoming more involved with campus activities, but for now he is making his studies a priority.

To maintain a great GPA while participating in university level sports, Cameron relies on the life lessons he learned growing up in a military family. He says that his father’s Army career taught him resilience, discipline, and how to be independent. Cameron reports that his father, Master Sergeant Terry Mahone, US Army (AGR), has honorably served our country for twenty-five years and is now looking forward to retirement.

We’re sure that MSG Mahone is very proud that Cameron is taking his lessons to heart. On behalf of the ThanksUSA team, I extend my thanks to MSG Mahone for his dedicated service and wish him peace and relaxation in his retirement.

Cameron certainly has a bright future ahead of him and we believe that his focus and dedication will lead him to a successful career as an orthodontist. We leave this week with a few words from Cameron to our sponsors:

“The Altria Group/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship is truly a blessing. It has relieved the burden of worrying about how I will pay for school and has provided me with endless opportunities to pursue my life-long dream of being an orthodontist.  I really appreciate you all selecting me. I will make you all proud one day!”

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As the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree, Melissa Spear has set high academic standards for herself. She plans to earn her BS in Biology from the University of Texas El Paso and then continue her education with graduate and doctorate studies. Melissa received a $3000 EADS/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship through ThanksUSA for the 2011/2012 academic year and is eager to share her experiences and academic goals with ThanksUSA supporters.

The daughter of SFC William Spear, US Army (RET), Melissa’s military childhood helped to shape her into the confident, diligent young woman that she is today.

“My father was in the Army for 20 years before he retired. Because of his career, I’ve had the chance to live in Germany, New York, Georgia, and Texas. I was able to see many different parts of the world. At the age of 20, I can definitely say that I’ve been to many more places than my peers have been to. Life as a military child has taught me to be fortunate of my experiences. I may not have been the child who was able to grow up in her hometown, but I can definitely say that I’ve been able to experience different cultures from all over. I may not have been the girl who’s had the same friends since kindergarten, but I have met people from all over. I’ve been able to see what this country offers and it motivates me to make a difference. I’m very proud of being a military child and being able to say that my father spent a part of his life serving this country,” says Melissa.

Since she is most interested in medical research, Melissa spent her summer working in the lab of Patrick Phillips at the University of Oregon. “My project is focused on understanding how organisms react to a stressful environment. We know that stress tends to have a negative impact, but we’re interested in finding how it affects lifespan and how it affects genetics. In the future, this research could possibly help in delaying the onset of age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. We’re not necessarily trying to find ways for people to live longer, but rather trying to find ways where they could live a much healthier life. Why live to be 90 years old when the last 15 years of life is spent having to fight Alzheimer’s? This project is important, because we’re hoping that we’ll be able to find that genes that control stress resistance and lifespan. I’ve been working with worms that have been living in a standard lab environment but are then selected for acute stress. I’ve been extracting RNA from these worms and having them sent off to be sequenced so we can look at their genetic lines.”

This invaluable experience has bolstered Melissa’s own research goals. She explains, “I’m most interested in understanding how cancer runs through continuous generations in a certain family. Why is one family always more at risk for a specific type of cancer? If your mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, why does that make her daughter more at risk for contracting it too? My ultimate goal is to be able to teach at a university and run my own lab.”

Though academic success is a priority for Melissa, she is also dedicated to the UTEP University Honors Council. Made up of UTEP honor students, the University Honors Council devotes many hours to the Reynolds House, a shelter for women and children. “We try to provide as much as we can for the kids by hosting fun events for them as well as providing many goods for their needs.” When she’s not studying or volunteering with the University Honors Council, the well-rounded Melissa enjoys baking and dancing.

The ThanksUSA team wishes everyone a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. While you’re relaxing with friends and family, take a moment to reflect on the thousands of military families who have loved ones serving here at home and abroad. We leave this week’s feature with a special message from Melissa about receiving the EADS/Senator Ted Stevens/ThanksUSA Scholarship:

“Receiving the ThanksUSA Scholarship has motivated me to work harder for my goals. I’m striving to graduate from school debt free and every little bit of money helps. I want to become a scientific researcher, but that path comes with a price. I’ve seen people give up their dreams, because of the time and money it takes and I do not want to be one of them. I’m very grateful for every bit of help I get because it brings me one step closer to my goal.”

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