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Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs Gives’

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.”
Sincerely,
Dyune and Amy Martinez

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In the past two years, Army dependent Devon Cooley has received $6,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, sponsored by Goldman Sachs Gives and LM&O Advertising. On Friday, May 4th, Devon graduated from the Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences with High Honors and was recognized for having the highest GPA in her degree program.

Devon is looking forward to beginning her training with Teach For America in Atlanta, GA. This Fall, she will begin her journey as a Secondary English teacher in the Greater New Orleans, LA. Devon’s future plans include graduate school and traveling. Devon was featured in a Scholarship News blog earlier this Spring and you can read more about her plans and great advice to new undergrads here. The ThanksUSA team congratulates Devon on her academic accomplishments and we wish her all the best with her teaching career!

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Welcome back to ThanksUSA’s Scholarship News! This week, we continue our feature on Brianna Bikker, an outstanding student at Texas A&M Univeristy who is using her $3000 Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship to complete her junior year of Electrical Engineering studies. This week Brianna shares her experiences as a military child and the lessons learned through a study abroad program.

Brianna’s father was commissioned 1989 as an Electronic Warfare Officer and has served with several commands. Growing up, Brianna spent time in England, New Mexico, Washington, and Florida. “Having been born abroad while my dad was stationed in England, I have always loved traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures. I can also thank my military dependent lifestyle for my ability to adapt to new areas and being comfortable with different beliefs and lifestyles,” says Brianna.

Although she has always embraced her military lifestyle, Brianna admits that there were times when being a military dependent became confusing. “It is easy to get defensive over things such as the war in Iraq when your mom or dad is risking their life over there for you and other US citizens. For me, this was especially difficult this past fall being in the Middle East, where the US military is a controversial thing.  Even though being against the war is perfectly okay, I want people to know that soldiers risk their lives and should be respected for their work. At times, this can be difficult.”

When Brianna speaks of being in Middle East, she is referring to her studies at Texas A&M University’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar. “Before leaving for the Middle East, I learned a lot about the region to prepare myself for any culture shock that is to be expected when living in an unfamiliar region. However, even with all my research, there’s nothing that can compare with actually living in a new and exciting place.

I spent the semester taking classes with students from not only the Middle East, but from all over the world. The collage of different traditions and cultural values gave me a completely new perspective on the rest of the world. I learned so much about the values, traditions, and lives of people around the world. Even more fascinating was when I got to travel through the Middle East, to Oman, UAE, Jordan, and Bahrain. Travelling to more countries opened my eyes even more to the amazing variety of people within a region that many Americans would consider all the same.

Overall, my experience in Qatar last fall semester was one of the best that I’ve ever had; I am glad to have a better idea of what the Middle East is like and to have made life-long friends that taught me so much. Especially in a time where understanding is vital, I wish everyone could experience the generosity and sincerity that I did last fall; in the mean time, I plan on sharing my experience with others so that I can help broaden the perspective of at least some.”

Brianna, we appreciate your sharing and hope that you continue to broaden the perspectives of those you meet. ThanksUSA is proud to support such deserving military dependents. Scholarship applications for the 2011/2012 academic year will open on April 1, 2011. Please share our website with your military friends and family members. Prospective applicants can sign up for a reminder email here. While visiting ThanksUSA, please be sure to make your tax-deductible donation today. With your support, ThanksUSA will continue to provide financial aid to students like Brianna.

“Being financially supported through ThanksUSA scholarships has made a huge difference in my education. Other students like me want to have experiences such as studying abroad while in college, but have financial worries that prevent them from the experience.  Also, not having to work throughout the semester just to pay for school allows me to spend more time on what I went to college for in the first place: academics, research, and the student organization I’m involved in. I am truly grateful that there are organizations such as ThanksUSA that are designed to support military dependents.  Although it can be rough at times, being a military brat is truly a blessing, and it’s great to have people recognize that and support us in our education.” – Brianna Bikker

You can support students like Brianna by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to 85944 to make your $10 donation.

 

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The ThanksUSA team loves hearing from scholarship recipients. This week’s featured scholar, Brianna Bikker, has received $6000 in ThanksUSA scholarships since 2009, including a $3000 Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship for the Spring 2011 semester. After receiving regular updates from Brianna about her academic progress and collegiate experiences, I knew that I wanted to share her story with readers. Currently in her junior year of Electrical Engineering studies at Texas A&M University, Brianna has a very interesting research focus: Foreign Accent Conversion. This will be a two segment blog beginning with Brianna’s research and concluding next week with her experiences studying abroad and life as a military child.

Brianna Bikker

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Brianna has always had great math skills and was interested in puzzles. She knew that she would pursue a degree that would incorporate mathematics, but she did not want to limit herself. She decided to pursue engineering because it would allow her to apply her skills in math and science while pursuing real-life problems that affect people daily. “Where would we be without engineers?” asks Brianna. “I want to have a job where my work produces something that people 10, 20, or 100 years down the road couldn’t believe living without.”

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Brianna’s current research could lead to just that. Brianna explains her research and related end-goals:

My research in Foreign Accent Conversion focuses on essentially removing the “foreign accent” from a recording of a foreigner’s spoken English. Basically, when a foreigner speaks English with an “accent,” it just means that the way his or her muscles move differently and the shape of his or her throat are not the same as a native speaker’s would be; this produces a different sound. In the graphical representation of speech (called a spectrogram), mispronunciations have a different shape than the correct, native pronunciation does.  So, in accent conversion, we use different signal processing techniques to manipulate the speech recording of that foreign speaker so that the areas of mispronunciation become identical to the correct pronunciation instead.  The idea is that when the new modified speech of the foreign speaker is played back, it should sound exactly like that same person speaking English, just without a foreign accent. Of course, this is a lot trickier to perfect than it sounds; computer production of “speech” sounds a lot less smooth than human speech.

Ultimately, my research might lead to a way to improve the actual accent of foreign speakers. Theory says that a person listening to his/her own voice without an accent will help eliminate any foreign accent more quickly and accurately than listening to an instructor’s accent and trying to mimic it.

To compliment her studies, Brianna is involved in the student branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). She was also named a University Scholar by Texas A&M’s Honor Program. “As a University Scholar, I participate in representing the school in discussion panels, hosting honorary visitors at Texas A&M, Professional workshops, and service projects. Essentially, there are 12 students per class selected to represent the school,” explains Brianna.

Last semester, Brianna had the unique opportunity to study at Texas A&M University’s branch campus in Dohar, Qatar. Please visit next week to read about the experiences that broadened Brianna’s global perspective.

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Since most of the nation is being held in the icy grips of old man winter, I think it’s quite refreshing to meet someone who is earning her degree in a place that most consider paradise…Honolulu, Hawaii! As I write this, it is currently 28° F here in Hampton Roads, VA. The weather in Honolulu? A beautiful 77° F. Yes, there is a chance for rain in Honolulu, but at least it’s warm!

Weather aside, I’m pleased to introduce Tia Alove Hicks who is earning her degree on the beautiful campus of Chaminade University of Honolulu.  With the assistance of a $3000 Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Tia will graduate with her BS in Elementary Education by the end of this year. Tia expresses her gratitude for her scholarship saying, “Receiving the Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship has made it possible for me to arrive closer to my goal of completing my degree. The financial burden of college especially as an adult providing for a family can often times be overwhelming and can make your goal seem out of reach. Receiving the Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA Scholarship has freed my mind from worry over finances so I can focus on my studies.”

Tia Alove Hicks

Tia is a proud Army spouse and mother of three school aged children.  Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Jason A Hicks, US Army, has recently returned from his third combat tour and is currently Food Advisor for all Hawaii based Army Units. How does Tia manage school, raise her children and support her husband’s military career? She relies on a cooperative support system of family, friends, and neighbors.  She adds, “whoever you find around you that you can trust – utilize them and be sure to return the favors! Oh and don’t forget; time management and casseroles!”  Sound advice for any student or military spouse.

Asked about her academic inspiration, Tia enthusiastically responded, “My children have been my biggest inspiration to study Elementary Education. I have always been an active parent and a big part of that has been volunteering in their classrooms. Being in the classroom and seeing first hand the many light bulb moments in the students has been a very rewarding experience. It’s like seeing your child take his/her first steps! Exciting.”

Even more exciting is Tia’s approach to teaching: My goal as a teacher is to make certain that all of my students are engaged in their personal learning experience.  If students are not engaged then they are most likely not learning. I don’t want to be the type of teacher that force-feeds information into the students and expect them to regurgitate that information on a pen and paper test. This to me is not teaching or learning.  I plan to first create a safe environment for my students, not just the physical environment but the mental environment as well. If students feel as if they will be ridiculed or laughed at for wrong answers they will not want to participate. My job is to encourage participation. I also plan to incorporate project based learning, this hands on type of learning is not just beneficial to students but fun as well. I want my students to enjoy learning. If I can instill in them a love of learning then I will have accomplished something.

Any student would benefit from the learning environment that Tia plans to teach in. ThanksUSA wishes Tia continued academic excellence and we look forward to an update from her first classroom. Keep up the good work Tia and send warm thoughts to all of our readers!

You can support students like Tia by making a $10 donation today…simply text THANKSUSA to 85944 to make your $10 donation.

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Christie McKearn

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This week’s featured ThanksUSA Scholarship Recipient, Christie McKearn, is earning her degree in Christian Counseling from Oral Roberts University. Receiving a $3000 Goldman Sachs Gives/ ThanksUSA Scholarship has brought Christie closer to her goal of helping others through their most difficult times.

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Christie’s desire to help others stems from personal experiences from her past. Christie explains, “I struggled with awful anger, severe depression, crippling insecurity, and an eating disorder that threatened my life. Because of the healing process I have been through, that person is long gone and it is hard for me to even conjure up those old feelings anymore. I am so incredibly grateful and inspired by those amazing people who took the time to counsel, help, and guide me along the way.”

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Christie sees her field of study as a calling that she cannot ignore. In fact, Christie already has long-term plans to develop a live-in facility for women located in a private, country setting. She explains that the location of recovery is vital: “Not that we can run away from our problems, but it is very hard to work through emotional issues while living in the very environment that often times fosters these problems in the first place. I believe it will be a tremendous help to provide a place of safety and security surrounded by the proper love and support needed so these women can finally face these issues head on. I do want to mention that although I am a Christian and this program will obviously be openly run on Christian principles, I in no way intend to limit this to solely women of Christian faith. It is my vision to see hurting, wounded women from any background, race, creed, or faith completely healed and restored.”

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Supporting her through her studies is her loving husband, Evan. During his nine years with the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, Evan has served with the 826th Ordinance Company. After his last deployment to Afghanistan, Evan secured a position as a Unit Administrator for the 826. Serving as a government-employed civilian during the week and as a soldier on the weekends and during training allows Evan to serve the 826 in a very unique and comprehensive way. He has chosen to remain with the Army until retirement and has recently applied for a commission. Christie proudly attests, “I have no doubt that he will have continued success throughout his military career. Although we are apart more than non-military couples, I am honored to be married to a soldier and am looking forward to where the future will take us.”

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Evan & Christie McKearn with baby Samuel

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Recently, the McKearn’s were blessed with the birth of their first child, Samuel. Christie understands that as a new mother, scheduling adjustments will have to be made – but not at the cost of her education. She insists, “I am a senior and have come too far to even think of stopping now. I am excited that the first round of classes that I am taking after having the baby has already been paid in full by the Goldman Sachs Gives/ThanksUSA scholarship. Receiving this scholarship truly makes realize that my educational endeavors are bigger than myself. Not only will the outcome affect many, but others besides me are invested in my education and for that I have a responsibility to see this through to the desired end.”

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We extend our sincere congratulations to the McKearn family and wish Christie continued academic success.  We truly hope that your vision comes to fruition!

One more photo of adorable baby Samuel McKearn

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