Posts Tagged ‘Coast Guard’

Frances KarnuthWhether you’re military or civilian, we’ve all had those overwhelming moments that just seem impossible to overcome. This week’s featured ThanksUSA scholar, Frances Karnuth, has a very inspirational outlook on those moments. “You can sit there and be overwhelmed, or you can get up and change the situation. Your goals are much more attainable than you think!”

A Coast Guard spouse and mother of six, Frances was awarded a $3,000 Pershing Square Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship for her Psychology and Nursing majors. With the end goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner, Frances is currently enrolled in both Regent University and Maryville University.

Over twenty years ago, Frances enrolled in a nursing program and was doing very well. Unfortunately, she had to take a medical leave of absence and during that time, the school closed. Although she was unable to complete the program, Frances says, “The desire to become a nurse never waned.”

Though a nursing degree was still her goal, family commitments took priority. Her husband, Franz, was beginning an active-duty career in the United States Coast Guard and the couple were starting their family.

When she was just three years old, the Karnuths’ eldest daughter, Janelle, was diagnosed with cancer. “This resulted in years of extensive chemotherapy and follow-up appointments.” Being a stay-at-home mom during those years provided the entire family with nurturing stability and consistency.

Frances has home-schooled each of her children. Over the years, she has grown to recognize different learning styles and study habits. Having to adjust a lesson plan or modify her teaching has had a very positive effect on her as a student. Frances explains, “I have a better understanding of how to adapt so that I can succeed.”

If her teaching success is any indication, Frances will have no problem succeeding as a student. Today, Janelle is a happy, healthy, young woman who is working towards a degree in Creative Arts Therapy. Son Josh is a lab technician at a package testing laboratory (he actually gets to blow things up!), while son Tim is a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Younger children, Josiah, Eric, and Elisha still sit down and do homework at the same time as Mom. “They often see me working just a hard as they do. I learn–that’s my job!” In 2009, Franz retired from the Coast Guard after 22 years of service. He continues to serve our country as a civilian.

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Many military spouses contemplate returning to school. When asked if she had advice to offer, Frances said, “It’s easier if you’re flexible with your goals. I plan to accomplish my professional goal by working diligently towards completing smaller goals.”

Setting those smaller goals is certainly working to her advantage. Frances will earn her Associates Degree in Psychology this spring from Regent University and will transfer to Maryville as a full-time student seeking dual Bachelor degrees in Nursing and Psychology.  She explains, “By including both physical and psychological aspects to my training as a nurse practitioner, I will be better equipped to understand the medical needs of my patients.”

With encouragement from her loving family, the military community, and ThanksUSA supporters, Frances will continue to succeed. She is appreciative of the Pershing Square/ThanksUSA scholarship and says, “Your gift helps me financially and has provided a much-needed dose of emotional encouragement. It is wonderful knowing that others have faith in me. Thank you again–I won’t let you down.”

The ThanksUSA team extends our warmest wishes to all families, military and civilian, this Holiday season. We thank you for contributing to ThanksUSA scholarships in 2013 and encourage you to support the educational goals of military spouses, like Frances, by making your tax-deductible donation to ThanksUSA today.



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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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Today is #GivingTuesday and ThanksUSA has joined with thousands of non-profits around the country to celebrate this national movement dedicated to celebrating giving and volunteering.

Together we can support the men and women of the U.S. military by providing their families with the gift of a college scholarship.

Give The Gift of Gab

Donate your Facebook status or Tweet – tell your friends about how you support military families with ThanksUSA
Follow ThanksUSA on social media
Twitter – @ThanksUSA
Facebook /ThanksUSA
Share your #unselfie on social media – Take a pic, tag it #unselfie #givingtuesday and #ThanksUSA and upload it to your social networks.


Help us give a gift that will last well beyond the holiday season.


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This week I am happy to introduce University of Maryland: College Park sophomore, Rachel Sebastian. Rachel has received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $6000, including a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship for the 2011/2012 academic year.

Rachel Sebastian

A music education major with a concentration in musical performance, Rachel’s current long-term plans including teaching at the k-12 level. “Last year I had the opportunity to observe many music classes all around the DC area,” says Rachel. “I enjoyed each of the unique experiences that the different classes provided. The general music classes that I observed in the elementary schools piqued my interests the most. The classes are high energy and the students are constantly engaged. The teachers have freedom to teach from a variety of musical concepts in creative ways. I love the excitement and joy that young children bring to music, and I think that elementary general music would be the most fun job I could have,” Rachel adds.

Since Rachel speaks so passionately about teaching music to young children, I felt compelled to ask her about funding cuts to programs such as music education. She responded, “Music, as well as many other arts programs, is certainly a vital part to a quality education. Music engages the brain and the body in a way that no other subject can. I have read numerous studies that prove that music enriches child development not only by increasing cognitive abilities, but also by building social and critical-thinking skills. From my own experiences, I have observed that children truly blossom through the expressive and creative outlet that music provides, whether in a general music, band, orchestra, or choir class.”

Rachel’s concentration in music performance will provide her with the necessary training and applied lessons to be a professional French Horn performer. In addition to her studies, Rachel is also devoted to many causes on faith-based organizations on campus including Terps for Life, the Navigators, the Catholic student association, and the University of Maryland chapter of Catholic Daughters of America.

On Monday, November 14th, Rachel, and her family will join ThanksUSA at DAR Constitution Hall for the ThanksUSA Benefit Concert to celebrate our military families. Rachel’s father, Commander James Sebastian, has served with the United States Coast Guard for nearly 25 years. During his service, Rachel has lived in nine different homes and says the experience has taught her to be flexible. She has developed many long-distance friendships and feels that she adjusts easily to new or different situations. She also notes the closeness of her family saying, “My family is incredibly supportive and I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Speaking of her family, Rachel’s older sister, Rebekah, received a $1500 ThanksUSA Scholarship in 2006 for her studies at Louisiana Tech. Rebekah completed her undergraduate studies in 2009 and is currently attending physical therapy school at the University of Delaware.

The ThanksUSA team is proud to have assisted both Sebastian sisters with their educational pursuits and we look forward to following the progress of Rachel’s undergraduate studies. We close this week’s Scholarship News blog with a few words from Rachel to the ESA Foundation and all ThanksUSA supporters:

“This scholarship money has been such a blessing to me! I am now attending a college that I could never have even imagined myself attending. Every once in a while I look around, astonished at my school, classes, professors, and extremely talented classmates and I am in awe that I have the privilege to attend a school that I am so in love with. I will be able to graduate from the University of Maryland debt-free with experience and knowledge that will help me to get a job as a music teacher.”

Be sure to check our Facebook page next week for photos and concert highlights!

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Charles Bryant


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Christopher Klein



Christopher Klein, a $3000 The Boeing Company/ThanksUSA Scholarship Recipient, has been in love with airplanes and aviation as long as he can remember. From the moment Christopher saw the skies from the cockpit of a military transport aircraft, he knew he was destined to fly. Now a sophomore at the Prescott Campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Christopher is studying aeronautical science to gain the knowledge necessary to fulfill his dream of becoming a successful Air Force officer. This week, Christopher shares his academic achievements, career goals, and patriotism with ThanksUSA supporters.



Christopher’s father, LCDR Richard Klein, retired from the United States Coast Guard after 24 years of service. Having spent his entire life as a military dependent, Chris has appreciated every opportunity that his military lifestyle has offered. He explains, “I think my dad being in the military has awarded me some awesome experiences. I have been to countless countries around the globe on military aircraft. Some pilots would allow me to sit and watch takeoff and landing, and one instance, an air to air refueling! I don’t know many other people who have been allowed to experience such things. I’m sure that if my childhood was any different, I’d be a very different person. I believe my childhood experiences are what really connected me to aviation.”

To better prepare him for his chosen career, Christopher is enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Embry-Riddle. One aspect of the ROTC program that Christopher appreciates most is the Arnold Air Society. “The Arnold Air Society is a community service and business oriented organization that allows cadets to step up and truly learn how to lead. I would have to credit Arnold Air Society with changing me the most. To become part of the society, our squadron at Embry-Riddle executes a rigorous training program that tests us physically, mentally, and emotionally in ways that could not be found outside of the military. The less devoted and driven cadets drop out, and those who complete the training program emerge a different person. After training we, as a team, do a wide range of community service projects. These projects range from highway cleanups, to organizing blood drives, to teaching elementary schoolchildren. It feels good to be able to give back to the community and just help out. I would definitely say Arnold Air Society has best shaped me,” says Christopher.

To enhance his academics, Christopher interned with the Massachusetts Port Authority this past summer. He notes that the skills he learned during the internship will continue to play a role in his education: “My internship with MassPort taught me a good number of things. I was tasked with rewriting the Airport Emergency Plan which is required by the FAA. To learn how to begin the plan, I had to read through over a thousand pages of FAA requirements, other plans, and various procedural documents. After this initial process was done, I had to outline the structure of the plan, and begin writing. If there was only one thing I could have learned from the experience, it would have been organization. If outlining the plan wasn’t difficult enough, try keeping a thousand pages of different documents separate on your desk! I also learned about communication skills as I had to reach out and contact various individuals and organizations about their roles in the plan. This experience taught me skills that I will use for the rest of my life.”

As Christopher reminded me, an education at Embry-Riddle is expensive. He adds, “Aviation in general is an expensive industry. My family is supporting me as much as possible to get my education and begin working in the aviation industry. Every dollar helps, and the generosity of The Boeing Company and ThanksUSA has made a significant impact by helping earn more hours of better instruction in the air. The hours and instruction makes me a better pilot and makes me a more competitive candidate for an employer down the road.”

Christopher, your education, self-discipline, and dedication to serving the United States will certainly lead to a rewarding career. ThanksUSA is proud to support Christopher’s education and we look forward to following his achievements. In honor of Veterans Day, I hope that you will support students like Christopher by making your tax-deductible donation to ThanksUSA. In closing, Christopher has a special message for The Boeing Company:

“I would really like to express my thanks and gratitude to Major General Jack Catton, The Boeing Company and ThanksUSA for their generosity and investment in me. I am using the scholarship to soak up as much as I can and become a better pilot.”

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Rachel Okun

ThanksUSA extends our deepest appreciation to the men and women who serve our great nation. ThanksUSA co-founder Rachel Okun is singing the National Anthem at the Master Chief Petty Officer Coast Guard Reserve Force Change of Watch in Alexandria, VA, today. MCPO-CGRF Jeff Smith will be relieved by BMCM Mark Allen, USCGR. Thank you for your service, gentleman!

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