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Posts Tagged ‘Blavatnik Family Foundation’

Last week I introduced Army dependent Ashley O’Neil who has embraced her studies at Kansas State University. Ashley is excelling academically and has already become very active with the campus community. She is a member of the Hall Governing Board and the Vice President of her residence hall’s first floor. She remains physically active by playing her favorite sport as a member of the Kansas State Women’s Soccer team. Relating to her major, Ashley meets weekly with fellow members of the Bakery Science Club to bake in the KSU pilot commercial bakery. The club is raising funds to attend the National Baking Convention in Chicago. With the goal of becoming an Ambassador for the College of Agriculture, Ashley recently completed the College of Agriculture Training Program.

Clearly, Ashley has embraced campus life and is enjoying every opportunity that KSU has to offer. When I asked her how she remains focused and disciplined, Ashley immediately credited the support of her family. “I grew up as a child in a military family which taught me to be prepared for any situation that could come my way and to always face new challenges head on and with tenacity. As a military child, I am used to many different environments and have encountered a variety of situations which have made me wiser and assisted me in developing smarter decision-making skills. With my dad in the military, we had to undergo frequent moves from state to state, and even internationally. This taught me to treasure the people I have around me and helped me to better appreciate the skills and talents of others. The multiple moves taught me to be versatile and flexible, as well as showing me that certain traits and values should not be compromised. Through the military, I met new people on a near daily basis which developed my communication skills and made me more outgoing.”

The O'Neil Family

Exposure to different cultures and an appreciation for diversity have influenced Ashley to seek a career that will have a global impact. Currently, Ashley is considering either Product Development or Research & Development. If she were to work with product development, Ashley would love to develop a healthier food products that could be sold both nationally and internationally. A career in R&D would allow her to focus on making simple grains more efficient and cost-effective to meet the dietary needs of people in underprivileged areas. Ashley says that proper agriculture R&D could also lead to improved crop yields for farmers. Regardless of which career path Ashley chooses, she is sure to succeed. She attributes her academic success to her teachers, friends, and family who have always encouraged and supported her. She also has a special message of thanks for ThanksUSA and the Blavatnik Family Foundation:

“Receiving the$3000  Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship affected my education greatly in that it made it possible. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and ThanksUSA, I was relieved of some of the financial strain and burden of college tuition. The scholarship that I received paid for tuition for almost a full semester! The scholarship that I received assisted and enabled me to pay for my entire freshman year of college without having to take out a loan! I cannot thank them enough, because they have made a huge difference in both my education and my future.”

Ashley, thank you so much for sharing. ThanksUSA looks forward to following your academics at Kansas State University and we hope to hear an update after you visit this year’s National Baking Convention!

You can support students like Ashley by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to85944 to make your $10 donation.

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Food is popular. Dishes that were once considered a delicacy can now be microwaved in the comfort of our own homes. Advancements in distribution have allowed us to taste exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world any time of year. We have access to thousands of recipes via the internet and we even have an entire television network dedicated to food. Even with countless information and resources at our fingertips, the proper (and most satisfying) preparation of food still requires skill and talent – a certain knack for the trade.

Army dependent Ashley O’Neil has that knack. Ashley received a $3000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship to begin her studies at Kansas State University. She is majoring in both Bakery Science & Management and German Language. She plans to pursue a career with the agriculture industry and hopes that her German language skills will bridge language barriers.

Ashley O'Neil

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Ashley fondly recalls the inspiration for her studies saying, “Ever since I was old enough to help out in the kitchen, I was there with my Dad (Maj Joseph O’Neil, U.S. Army), baking and cooking up an endless variety of delicious dishes. While working in the kitchen was always enjoyable, making cakes, cookies, pies, and other tasty treats was always my strong suit and something that I enjoyed immensely. This was where I first discovered my love for baking.”

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Ashley is now taking her passion to the next level by honing her baking technique and learning every aspect of her chosen trade. From the planting of the grains that will become raw ingredients to the finished products found on store shelves, KSU’s Bakery Science and Management curriculum is sure to prepare Ashley for her dream career. Ashley’s studies are quite unique and she offers a more detailed explanation of KSU’s Agriculture program:

Kansas State University has one of the strongest Agriculture programs in the nation. Kansas State University was originally named the Kansas State Agricultural College when it opened in 1863. Because of this, the College of Agriculture is one of many strongly rooted colleges within Kansas State University, with a history as unique as the students and professors that are a part of it.

In the programs within the College of Agriculture, students are encouraged not only to know everything concerning their specific field of study to the maximum capacity, but also to be knowledgeable of all the factors that are encompassed within agriculture. The studies within the College of Ag involve the learning about the entire agricultural process, from the planting of grains, all the way to the final product. With high standards and a wide variety of curriculum and classes available to the students, the College of Ag ensures that their students graduate with all the tools and knowledge necessary to be successful. In doing so, the College of Ag also provides their students with the competence and capacity to work on new and progressive research projects, and to be on the cutting edge of agricultural knowledge and development.

One example of the unique opportunities and programs that the Kansas State College of Ag provides is the Bakery Science and Management program, which is the only one of its kind in the entire nation! With a fully functioning flour mill, feed mill, dairy, research labs, and a pilot bakery, the Kansas State University College of Agriculture has provided all of the facilities essential to provide hands-on experience and valuable training, therefore better preparing students for future success.

With a curriculum that seems tailor made for her, Ashley will no doubt continue to excel at her studies with enthusiasm. Next week we’ll continue our discussion with Ashley and learn how her experiences as a military child helped her become the confident and determined young woman that we have met today.

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Rachael Wolff

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Rachel Wolff already has a passion and understanding for the millions of minorities across the globe that still live in oppression. As she begins her studies in International Relations at American University, Rachael believes that her education will allow her to “speak for those who cannot.” ThanksUSA is honored to support her freshman year of studies with a $3000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship.

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I imagine that studying International Relations in the heart of our Nation’s Capital must be inspiring. Although she just began her freshman year, Rachael is already embracing her academic life and the excitement of DC. “I am learning so much from my discussions in the classroom, experience throughout the city, and encounters with the people I meet. With so many incredible opportunities in life, I would hope that rising high school seniors take time to notice them. With an open-mind, determination, and time management, any passion will prevail. I am very grateful that the scholarship has let me experience the benefits of a private, diverse, open-minded community that is American University. By being located in Washington, DC, I feel that my learning has been optimal, with classroom labs to PEPFAR and the Department of State, for example. These studies will only strengthen the tools I need for the future,” says Rachael.

So what motivated Rachael to study international Relations in the first place? She states, “I thought that it would be a good fit with my interests in the changing world, its cultures, and how humanity can collaborate to create an effective, just society.” She further explains that there were two experiences that really “catalyzed epiphanies inside” of her that made her want to be an agent for change: “In the summer of 2007, my family was fortunate enough to accompany my dad, who was working in China. After visiting an orphanage, I was deeply moved by the hope the children represented. Then, in the summer of 2009, I was privileged enough to travel with students from my high school through Maryknoll Missioners to Tanzia. There we taught conversational English to boys 17-21 years of age, but received surpassing lessons about life. Their spirit and dreams were empowering.”

As mentioned earlier, Rachael also expresses a desire to “speak for those who cannot.” When I asked her if there was a particular group of individuals that she wishes to help, Rachael responded, “I feel that there are many overlooked minorities, as well as many cultures looked at superficially (stereotyped), in contemporary society. Though I am unsure of what region I will focus in after university, I still aspire to go wherever there is need.”

I consistently see this altruistic spirit in ThanksUSA scholarship recipients and often ask about community and campus activities. During her senior year of high school, Rachael helped organize a road race for a local non-profit organization, Nuestro Ahora, Inc. This year, she is a member of American University’s cross country/track teams, Oxfam America at AU. She also serves on the Residence Hall Association council, and works with the American Way of Life magazine.

Of course I can’t close this blog without allowing Rachael to express her appreciation of her father, CMSGT Kenneth Wolff (USAFR Ret): “My father was a member of the United States Air Force Reserve and achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. In the past decade or so, he was deployed twice to Qatar/Iraq. There were difficult times because he was not always physically present: he could not cheer for me at performing arts, join family dinners, or help my mother with family responsibilities. Yet, I always knew he was supporting me and remained in my heart. I realized how special it is to have him home.” Rachael also explains that her experiences as a military dependent have led her to truly believe in the “Support Our Troops” mantra. She adds, “Knowing the emotions associated with my father’s deployments, I empathize with all families in the military.”

In closing, Rachael wishes to once again thank the Blavatnik Family Foundation for their generous support of ThanksUSA, saying, “I cannot express enough gratitude for such a wonderful gift. Because of the ThanksUSA scholarship, I can focus more on my academics and goals. I will strive to do “small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa said. What a beautiful quote to end with…thank you Rachael!

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Continuing last week’s focus on the Martinez family, I am pleased to introduce ThanksUSA scholar Aljo Victor Martinez. Aljo received a $3000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship for the 2010 spring semester. Aljo actually received notification of his scholarship on Christmas Eve, 2009. “That Christmas will never be forgotten in our household. It assured me not to worry about school related needs for the 2010 spring semester,” says Aljo.

The Martinez family: Aljo, Allia, Dyune, Amy and Alden

As a Chemical Engineering major at the University of South Alabama, Aljo is fascinated by the intricacies of chemicals and their reactions to each other. Aljo explains, “When handled properly, chemicals benefit mankind. I realize how much of our daily lives depend so much on chemical engineering and I want to be a part of that.

Aljo is excelling at his studies and credits his involvement in the AFROTC Arnold Airs Honor Society, explaining, “The challenges and excitement of the program motivates me and helps with my focus. The camaraderie we have in the detachment is something I am thankful for. College life would have been very challenging for me without my new friends. Sharing the same goals and accountability help all of us to aim for excellence all the time.”

Aljo further explains that AFROTC has led him to consider a military career of his own. “I am enjoying every minute of it (AFROTC) and learning a great deal about leadership and discipline. I seriously would like to join the Air Force as an officer when I graduate from college. I believe in the United States and I will be honored and proud for an opportunity to serve her,” says Aljo.

As the son of a career Navy Chief, Aljo understands the challenges and rewards that come with a military career. Growing up in the Navy, Aljo moved quite often and is proud to have friendships in the U.S., Italy, and even Iceland. Aljo also reflects on his father’s career with great respect: “My father served in the United States Navy faithfully and proudly for 24 years. Early on, I really did not have a good grasp of the importance of his job…he was a Culinary Specialist Chief Petty Officer. Now I realized that his service was just as honorable as those who are in the front lines. He kept our Sailors and Marines fed with highly nutritious food daily which in turn played a significant role in every one of them to fulfill their duties and complete their missions.”

The ThanksUSA team recognizes and appreciates the role of every U.S. Service Member and we extend our sincerest thank you to CPO Alfredo Dyune Martinez, USN (Ret.), for his twenty-four years of service to our nation. I think that CPO Martinez and his wife, Amy, should also be commended for raising such focused and goal-oriented children; both Allia and Aljo are certainly on their way to success! We close this week with a thank-you from Aljo:

I would like to express my gratitude to ThanksUSA for their scholarship program. They are helping young people like me get closer to our goals and make our dreams a reality. I do not know where I would be right now if I did not receive this scholarship. I am so grateful for the Blavatnik Family Foundation as well – they helped make our Christmas unforgettable. We are truly grateful for kind-hearted and generous people who put their wealth to good use by investing in young dreamers like me. Thank you very much!

Remember, you too can help make scholarships possible for military dependents by making your tax-deductible donation today. Scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 2010/2011 academic year.

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