Posts Tagged ‘Blavatnik Family Foundation’

2013 Graduate

Congratulations to Marine Corps spouse and ThanksUSA scholar MaKenna Arrigo! Earlier this year, with the assistance of a $3,000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship, MaKenna completed her Psychology studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, earning Cum Laude honors.

Although her husband, Sergeant Christopher Arrigo, USMC, was deployed at the time, MaKenna’s mother, Marilyn Hughes, and her grandfather, Michael McDonough were in attendance to support their graduate.


“It was the one of the happiest days of my life and also one of the most emotional as I wished my late father and my deployed husband could have been there.”

The military has always been part of MaKenna’s life. Her grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War and her father, CWO Robert Buotte, dedicated over 28 years of service to the Coast Guard before his unexpected passing in 2010.

Now that she has earned her BA in Psychology, MaKenna has been busy making plans for graduate school. Ultimately, she would like to pursue a career as a social worker within the military community.

MaKenna_Arrigo 2012

“As both a military child and spouse, I want to thank the supporters of the ThanksUSA organization from the bottom of my heart. The support from this organization has given me a chance to achieve an undergraduate college degree and now set my sights higher to a masters degree.”

.The ThanksUSA team congratulates MaKenna on her academic accomplishments and wishes her continued success with her graduate studies. In the coming weeks, Scholarship News readers will be introduced to the new 2013-2014 ThanksUSA scholarship recipients, so be sure to check back often.

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2013 Graduate

Congratulations to Navy dependent and newly commissioned Air Force officer, Allia Grace Martinez! Receiving a total of $9,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships, this amazing scholar recently earned her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, graduating from the University of South Alabama with Cum Laude honors.

Allia Grace Martinez

Graduation day served as an exceptionally memorable day as Allia Grace was also commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Her family shared in her commissioning by pinning on her bars, while the first salute was rendered by her father, CSC Alfredo Dyune Martinez, U.S. Navy (Ret).

ThanksUSA supporters may recognize Allia Grace and her family from previous Scholarship News blog posts. Thanks to gracious contributions from Lockheed Martin, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Charity Works, and Military Connection, Allia Grace and her brothers, Aljo Victor and Alden David, have received ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $15,000!

The entire ThanksUSA team congratulates Allia Grace on her accomplishments and we wish her well as she trains for her Air Force career in Space and Missiles. We also extend our thanks to the Martinez family for sharing this special day with ThanksUSA supporters!

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“We as a family would like to, once again, express our gratitude to ThanksUSA and all the grantors who make it possible for students like our daughter finish college. Your time and generosity are greatly appreciated. We will never forget your kindness to our family. May God bless you all abundantly.”
Dyune and Amy Martinez

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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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Ying Wang’s family could not be prouder…with the assistance of $6,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships, the Army dependent graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Emerson College with her Marketing Communications degree. During her final two years at Emerson, Ying received consecutive $3,000 ThanksUSA scholarships sponsored by Intelligent Decisions Inc. and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

With a desire to serve her country, Ying recently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Remaining dedicated to continuing her education, Ying will be attending law school while serving as a platoon leader for the Army Reserves 743rd Transportation Unit. Congratulations Lt. Wang! We look forward to updates on your continuing education and service to our nation.

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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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With the assistance of a $3,000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Faith  Hauversburk is pursuing double majors in economics and philosophy at John Hopkins University. With her husband deployed to South Korea, the newlywed Air Force spouse has remained committed to her studies at JHU knowing that her education will lead to a better future for her family.

Faith has always held mathematical interests and knew that she would enjoy working in the field of finance. She explains that she originally planned to major in applied mathematics because, “I felt it was a more flexible and powerful major, one which would better enable me to get a job.”

But Faith soon realized that she was learning most formulations and theories on her own. To optimize her college experience, she changed her major to economics and is quite satisfied with the results. “I felt economics would be more interesting, especially since I would better be able to understand the current economic situation, while also incorporating financial mathematics,” she adds.

Although Faith is dedicated to pursuing her economics degree to prepare for a future career, she also possesses a strong spiritual desire to study philosophy. She explains, “I think that the most important thing in life is to learn how best to live, and one gains this through self-understanding and through understanding of the world. Philosophy, or love of wisdom, is about understanding yourself and the world in a deeper, insightful way.”

To compliment her studies, Faith attends meetings of the campus philosophy group, Prometheus, and is involved in a Christian apologetics group. Faith explains, “We seek to defend the Christian faith with rationality.” She also volunteers to prepare and serve meals for area residents in need.

Faith is committed to graduating from JHU with honors and two undergraduate degrees. She is maintaining an impressive GPA and is gradually extending her campus involvement. Finances are always a concern for the Hauversburks and Faith explains, “Receiving the Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship has allowed me to feel more relaxed, to feel less stressful. School is stressful enough on its own! With my scholarship, I can shift my worries from finances and focus my attention on schoolwork instead.”

The sacrifices of military families are often difficult for civilians to understand or to relate to. Since Faith and her husband, Senior Airman Daniel Hauversburk, Jr, U.S. Air Force, are thousands of miles away from each other, I asked Faith to share a little about that experience.

Daniel and Faith Hauversburk, Jeju Island


“My husband and I, despite having only been married for a year, are very used to being apart, even prior to our marriage. The longest we have been together day by day is about a month. Because of this, I think it is easier on us to deal with the distance, especially because we are both independent people who have dreams and goals of our own.

We support each other by encouraging each other, by respecting and being understanding of each other when we cannot give each other much time, and by knowing that our time apart will mean a better life for us in the future. Above all, we remain best friends, and treat each other well.”



Thank you, Faith, for sharing with our Scholarship News readers. The ThanksUSA team is proud to be a part of Faith’s educational journey. We encourage all college-bound military spouses and dependent children to apply for the 2012 ThanksUSA Scholarships. Applications will be accepted from April 1, 2012, through May 15, 2012. You can sign up for an email reminder here and if you have any questions, please leave a comment or contact me directly at sherrykoch@thanksusa.org.

We close this week’s blog with a few words from Faith thanking the Blavatnik Family Foundation for their support of ThanksUSA:

“As a selected recipient, I am extremely grateful for the support towards my education. I, and many others, appreciate what you do for military dependents worldwide. Thank you for all that you do. You are giving me the chance to live out the American dream.”

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What an exciting week it has been for ThanksUSA!

On Tuesday, March 6, ThanksUSA founders Kelsi and Rachel Okun were honored as recipients of the 2012 Jefferson Awards for Public Service. What began as the idea of two young schoolchildren has blossomed into the national non-profit that has provided 2,500 scholarships to the children and spouses of military personnel. To date, ThanksUSA scholarship recipients have received nearly $7.5 million in financial aid. We extends our gratitude to the ThanksUSA friends and supporters who joined Rachel and Kelsi for the awards ceremony in New York…Congratulations Ladies!

2012 Jefferson Awards Recipients Rachel Okun and Kelsi Okun

Later in the week (Thursday, March 8) ThanksUSA recognized distinguished Irish Americans at a public service awards ceremony presented by Blavatnik Family Foundation. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Congressman Jerry Lewis, and Governor Martin O’Malley were recognized for their continued dedication to our military service members. Dominick Murray, Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development accepted the award on behalf of Governor O’Malley and Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns provided the musical entertainment with accompanist Patrick Healy.

(from left) Rachel Okun, Deputy Secretary Murray, Congressman Lewis, Governor McDonnell, Kelsi Okun

Additional photos from both events can be found on our Facebook page and we encourage you to remind friends, family, and co-workers that 2012 ThanksUSA scholarship applications will be accepted from April 1 through May 15, 2012. Prospective applicants can register for an email reminder here.

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