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Craig ThurberIf you were to ask Craig Thurber about his lifelong goal, he may simply answer, “Be better.” With the assistance of a $3,000 Lockheed Martin/ThanksUSA scholarship, the Army National Guard dependent is attending Southwestern College where he is pushing himself to be a better student, a better athlete, and an all-around better person.

A natural athlete, Craig is pursuing a degree in Athletic Training. “I intend to utilize this degree and work as an Athletic Trainer while going to Physical Therapy school. I enjoy helping others and am excited to work in a health care/sports environment.” To compliment his studies, Craig is actively involved with various sports teams. He’s a linebacker for the Southwestern Moundbuilders and will play intramural basketball in the offseason.

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Craig with his biggest fans–his sisters!

Though sports and education are important to Craig, family is paramount. In 2006, Craig’s stepfather, MSG Bernard Deghand, was killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan. Only ten years old at the time, Craig challenged himself to be a father figure to his youngest sister. He developed a drive to succeed and lead by example, a drive to “be better.”

Craig mentions that he would want his stepfather to be proud of the man he is becoming. “I honor his memory by kneeling and talking to him on the football field right before each game. I also have a photo of him in my dorm room. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

There is no doubt that MSG Deghand would be proud of Craig. He is succeeding as a scholar, an athlete, and a positive role model to his sister and fellow athletes. ThanksUSA is honored to award scholarships to deserving students like Craig Thurber.

“Thank you very much for supporting me and helping me to be better.” — Craig Thurber, Southwestern College class of 2017

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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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