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Posts Tagged ‘education’

With the assistance of ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9,000, Michelle Spradlin earned her degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 2012. Over the years, she has represented ThanksUSA scholars at outreach events and even contributed to this year’s ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt 9. Michelle is happy to share the following update with fellow ThanksUSA Alumni and Friends:

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Michelle & Eddie Spradlin

ThanksUSA has helped me fulfill more than my educational goals. During my husbands first deployment to Iraq, I was led to make a career change. I had worked in banking all of my adult life, but my calling was to work in the educational field.

ThanksUSA helped support me financially as I attained my degree to become a teacher. This is my second year in the classroom and I have the privelege of substituting for two long-term materninty leaves in the same grade. Actually, the classrooms are next door to each other. Some of the students I am working with this year, I had last school year in ESL and/or Math Intervention, which has been very helpful.

At the beginning of this school year, I was disappointed that I had not been hired to be a full-time classroom teacher, but it has worked out in my favor. My husband has recently returmed from the Share Initiative Program in Atlanta, Georgia. We are learning to make adjustments he needs to “really live” with PTSD, TBI and long term back issues. Working in the school system also allows me to be on our daughter, Kiley’s schedule, which I am very grateful for.

A way that Kiley and I have found to be able to cope with my husband’s injuries is to serve others. We have always spent time together doing mission projects at home. However over Christmas break, we went on our first international mission trip to Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras. Not only was it an eye opening experience for a thirteen year old, but it was for me too.

I am grateful my husband is recovering from war related illnesses, we have each other, a home and live in a safe country. As my husband continues to improve, my daughter and I are planning to spend more time at the orphanage. This summer, I will volunteer to teach English in the orphanage school. I am currently taking the last college class needed to be a certified ESL (English Second Language) teacher.

Someday, I pray that my husband will be able to travel with me to do more international missions and perhaps adopt children. We always wanted more children, but due to deployments and his injuries, we were unable. I believe knowledge is power and having a formal education has fulfilled my dreams of being a teacher, being on our daughter’s schedule, to be home more than I was with my previous employer, and to be able to serve others. I am very thankful for ThanksUSA. It has allowed me to try to become the person that I want to be.

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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!”

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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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THANKSUSA MARKS $9 MILLION MILESTONE

More than 3,000 children and spouses of U.S. troops awarded the gift of education

Mclean, VA – August 29, 2013 – ThanksUSA today announced that it has awarded more than $9 million to date in post-secondary school scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. troops. This milestone includes approximately 300 new scholarships awarded over the past week, totaling nearly $1 million in funds.

Since its founding in 2005 by sisters Rachel and Kelsi Okun, ThanksUSA has awarded over 3,000 scholarships to military families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“We were just girls – I was 10 and Kelsi was eight – when we started looking for a way to thank our troops for all they sacrifice in keeping us safe,” said Rachel Okun, now 17. “Over the past eight years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who feel the same and who want to help support military families through ThanksUSA.”

“We understood the importance of a good education and wanted to share our blessings with the families of our service men and women,” added Kelsi Okun, now 14. “The gift of education is the perfect way to do so.”

The Okun sisters travel the country speaking with ThanksUSA scholarship recipients in order to introduce them to Americans through video profiles and speeches. ThanksUSA’s new videos will be released at the organization’s annual gala at Washington DC’s Newseum on September 25, 2013, hosted by Lara Logan of CBS News. Tom Brokaw will be honored at the gala as will Col. Lanier Ward, survivor of a critical battle in Iraq and inspiration for ThanksUSA. Senator Roy Blunt, who represents 74 Missouri scholarship recipients, will also be honored. Senator Blunt took a personal interest in ThanksUSA as a House Member discussing the program with the troops in Iraq during the formative years of the program.

Among this year’s award recipients is Donnice Roberts, proud widow of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Casey Roberts. Donnice is pursuing dual degrees in Education and Rehabilitation Services with the end goal of working within the military community.

“I am truly grateful to ThanksUSA for this generous scholarship. I want to honor my husband’s legacy by using my education to help fellow military families. My children are learning that even through tragedy, we can overcome and succeed. With your support, I will make a difference and I will succeed.”

ThanksUSA also announced today a continuing partnership with the world-record holding doubles tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan. The organization has established a nationwide Tennis Thanks the Troops campaign – a partnership with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) involving tennis pros, fans and local communities, and presents an online challenge called the “ ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt,” sponsored since 2008 by the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, which explore the nation’s history, culture and values.

As the battle in Iraq ends and the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, ThanksUSA plans to step up efforts to support the families of military personnel who are re-integrating into the workplace. Helping service members’ children and spouses advance their education and achieve successful careers will relieve the new pressures that challenge those who have returned home.

“Our troops and their families deserve our respect and our thanks for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 12 years,” said General George Casey, former Army Chief of Staff and ThanksUSA board member. “They have borne significant burdens to protect this country, and we cannot allow their contributions to be quickly forgotten. Their mission of defending us is, unfortunately, not over.”

About ThanksUSA
ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States armed forces. The organization provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel. For more information, visit www.thanksusa.org.

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We continue to celebrate the success of the Hills Bros. Homefront Heroes campaign by introducing this week’s featured scholar, Air Force National Guard dependent, Monica Clevenger. Monica received a $3,000 Hills Bros. Homefront Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarship to continue her Education studies at Malone University.

Both of Monica’s parents have served with the Air Force National Guard her entire life. “They are the most encouraging, loving, and inspirational people that I know. I look up to them and hope to make them proud with everything that I do,” she says.

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Initially, Monica had planned to join the military but was not qualified due to medical conditions. She explains, “Since I can’t join the military and serve my country, I’ve decided to dedicate my life to serving the Lord and others.” She enrolled in Malone University as an Education major and joined service organizations and clubs so that she could serve the local community.

Monica makes a point of learning important lessons from each of her service opportunities. “Student Senate,” she explains, “showed me how to be a better leader. Coaching volleyball taught me patience and understanding. Volunteering with an after school program for underprivileged children taught me not to take any aspect of my life for granted.“ Monica is also very interested in missionary work and plans to make a mission trip to a third-world country within the next two years.

As a future educator, Monica’s goal is to teach science and math at the middle school level, preferably in an inner city school setting or on a military installation. She credits her own primary school teachers with sparking her interest in education and advises, “Stay dedicated to your studies and always do your best. Never give up on yourself. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”

Monica’s own dedication to her studies is evident. She has an exemplary GPA and continues to seek out new ways to serve her community. Monica explains that she chose Malone University because it offered her spiritual opportunities. “Now,” she says, “I see the potential that I have not only as a student but also as an educator and witness for God.”

The ThanksUSA team looks forward to seeing Monica fulfill her potential and we conclude this week’s Scholarship News blog with a heartfelt message from Monica:

“Once again, I would just like to say how thankful I am for the generosity of ThanksUSA and Hills Bros. for helping students like me achieve their dreams. To all military members and their families I would like to say thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices and your service to making this country the greatest nation in the world!”

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Our congratulations to Army dependent and ThanksUSA scholar, Christine Nussio, on earning her B.A. History degree from Christendom College! Since beginning her studies in 2008, Christine received $9,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, a portion of which were sponsored by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and ESA Foundation.

Though he is currently serving in Afghanistan, Christine’s father, Colonel Rick Nussio, U.S. Army, wanted Christine to know that he’d always be there for her. He sent her a photo of himself, she says, “In case I needed him.” As her name was announced, Christine proudly walked across the stage, photo in hand.

Christine will be spending the summer with her mother and five sisters anxiously waiting,  “to welcome home our hero from this year-long tour in July.” Next, she will begin preparations for graduate school. Christine will be attending Catholic University of America to earn her Master’s degree in Secondary Education, with a concentration in Social Studies.

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She explains, “This is in preparation for a career teaching history at the high school level. Though it took some time to discover, I realized that teaching high school history was the perfect way to combine my love for history and desire to spend my life helping form and educate the youth of tomorrow. My experiences as an apprentice teacher as part of Christendom College’s Teaching Practicum made me more eager than ever to begin this work. Participation in this program was just one of the many gifts I received while at Christendom, and I must extend my heartfelt thanks to ThanksUSA for helping to make this possible.”

She continues, “Without you I could never have accomplished all that I did in college: leadership and volunteer experience, friendships with peers and professors, rewarding studies, a Summa Cum Laude diploma, a semester study abroad, and formative opportunities preparing me for the career path of my choice. Thank you!”

ThanksUSA is honored to have been a part of Christine’s undergraduate experience. We have watched her grow from an eager high school senior to a confident scholar ready to educate and inspire the next generation. Congratulations, again, Christine!

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Over the past three years, Navy Reserve dependent Hayley Brands has received a total of $9,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, including this past year’s $3,000 Oshkosh Defense/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship. As she prepares for graduation and a career as a teacher, Hayley takes some time to share her educational journey and future plans with ThanksUSA supporters.

Hayley during a study-abroad in Spain

Just two weeks from now, Hayley will earn her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish. Always a dedicated student, she has earned teaching endorsements in basic mathematics and middle school science, will graduate Summa Cum Laude, and is receiving the University Scholar Award for UP’s School of Education for earning a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Hayley’s academic success has at UP has already led to her first teaching position through the Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education, or PACE. Over the next few years, Hayley will be earning her Master’s of Education degree while teaching middle school math and science at Sacred Heart Elementary in California. Hayley is especially excited about the opportunities offered through the PACE program and explains, “A unique facet of the program is that PACE teachers live in community with several other teachers in a PACE house in the community where they are teaching which serves as a strong support system for new teachers.”

When asked about her desire to teach, Hayley responds,  “A combination of experiences, relationships, and beliefs drew me to teaching. I was blessed to have several sensational teachers as a student who inspired me to be a life-long learner. Like most students, I also had teachers whose heart wasn’t in their work for some reason. I aspire to be the teacher who is a role model who inspires her students to become life-long learners. I also hope to inspire female students to pursue STEM careers because societal gender-roles often tell them the contrary. All five of my younger siblings have a form of high-functioning autism which has posed some unique challenges in their education. As someone who has siblings with special needs, I have empathy for students who might learn a little bit differently than the “average” student and feel confident I can adapt instruction to help all students succeed in my classroom no matter what their individual background is. Finally, I am drawn to teaching because it is a vocation in which I can make a difference every day I enter my classroom. Furthermore, I am excited to learn something new as I teach every day because teaching is an art that no one can ever perfect. The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids and constantly learn new things is exciting!”

Hayley with her brothers and sister

As a new teacher, Hayley will bring some fresh ideas and teaching methods to her students. For instance, during her fifth grade student teaching placement, she was able to incorporate her Spanish minor into the curriculum. She explains, “I recently taught a lesson on word histories, specifically tracing English words back to Latin roots using dictionaries. Since Spanish is more closely tied to Latin than English, I asked bilingual students to explain what the Latin roots meant in Spanish which was a cool way for them to share their language with the class. I have also connected similar grammar structures in English to Spanish grammar structures when teaching grammar skills to clarify concepts for students whose primary home language is Spanish. I’ve also incorporated it in ways as simple as being able to accurately pronounce words in stories in the reading curriculum from Hispanic cultures. In the future, I hope to eventually work in a dual-immersion or bilingual school to utilize my Spanish more readily in classroom instruction.”

During her time at the University of Portland, Hayley was very involved with campus activities and organizations. She has served as an officer in the Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society, was a Residence Assistant, and mentored through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters, just to name a few. One of the activities Hayley speaks most fondly about is the annual Reading Fair saying, “Over 350 families attended this event, enjoyed literacy-based activities, an obstacle course, a puppet show, and all children left with a free, new book!”

Growing up in a large military family helped Hayley develop the patience, compassion, and the self-discipline necessary for academic success. “I learned quickly how to be fairly self-sufficient and to take care of my responsibilities at home especially when dad was away on Navy duty for an extended period of time. When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad was deployed to the Pentagon for the whole year which was a major growing experience for me because I had to step up and take on my responsibility to helping mom make sure things were running smoothly at home while balancing my academics, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job. It wasn’t the easiest transition, but I grew up a lot during that year. These experiences facilitated my transition into college. I easily transitioned to living in a new place, developing a new routine, and taking on new adult responsibilities. I am grateful I was well-prepared for this transition from my experiences as a military child and how my parents purposefully taught me to be self-sufficient. During my junior year, I was a Resident Assistant and worked with many younger students who struggled with this transition because they were learning lessons about self-sufficiency and balancing one’s responsibilities for the first time as freshmen. In advising and supporting them, I am grateful for the values my military family instilled in me,” says Hayley.

ThanksUSA is honored to have been a part of Hayley’s educational journey. She explains just how important it was to have the financial support of ThanksUSA, especially during her senior year. “My full-time student teaching placement prevented me from being able to continue working my work-study job. Student teaching comprises more hours than a full-time job between planning, commuting, teaching time, and still taking university courses. Since ThanksUSA helped me to pay for my tuition and other school expenses, I was able to save earnings from the summer to pay for gas, utilities, rent, and other costs that continue to arise during this time when I am not able to earn an income so I am not worried about making ends meet. This lack of worry allows me to dedicate my time and energy to being the best teacher I can be for my students each day,” she says.

If you are a college-bound military dependent or spouse, we encourage you to apply for a ThanksUSA Scholarship today. Applications are being accepted now through May 15th at www.ThanksUSA.org. There are some changes to the scholarship program this year, including scholarships for military spouses attending school part-time. For complete details, please make sure to visit the 2012 Overview page.

We close this week’s Scholarship News with a few words of gratitude from Hayley:

“The ThanksUSA program and generous donors have truly made a difference in my education that has prepared me to serve our nation as a teacher. Thanks again☺”

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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

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“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.”

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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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