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Posts Tagged ‘International Relations’

With the assistance of a $3,000 John (NMN) Coffey/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Jordan Bowden is completing his junior year of International Relations studies at Brigham Young University.

The Army National Guard dependent chose International Relations because he truly enjoys studying the cultures of different people and learning how and why they live the way they do. With interests in politics and world affairs, Jordan thinks that his undergraduate studies may lead to a career with the U.S. State Department or with the military, perhaps as an Army Attaché.

Jordan also speaks passionately about a mission to Mexico explaining, “The time I spent in Mexico has greatly influenced my life; there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that experience. An LDS mission is a two year commitment where you spend all of your time and energy preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The religious part aside, it was a life changing experience. I was able to spend two years of my life among a people who I did not know and really did not understand, (nor did they understand me for that matter) but I grew to love and respect their traditions and culture. The mission taught me about the great blessings and opportunities we have here in the U.S., it taught me to respect and love people of all nationalities and cultures, and it engrained in me a desire to reach out and help those less fortunate than myself.”

Though Jordan describes his mission as a life-changing event, his military upbringing played a significant role in building his confidence and inner strength which prepared him for college, his mission, and life as an adult. “My father’s military career has been a guiding influence in my life. It really has made me who I am today. Being the oldest I was greatly affected each time my dad was deployed. It caused me to take on a lot of responsibility and really learn well how to handle difficult situations. I believe it made me a stronger individual. I would say that overall the experience has been a positive one, but as with all things there are challenges.”

While Jordan is very committed to his family, faith, and studies, he still remains an easy-going undergrad. Recently, Jordan, along with his father and brother, was able to attend a Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz basketball game courtesy of ThanksUSA National Spokesperson Stephen Curry. In his spare time, Jordan enjoys rock climbing and playing the piano and he helps finance his education by working part-time at the BYU Office of Information Technology.

The Bowden Men at Warriors vs Jazz (photographing yourself is not easy!!)

Since beginning his undergraduate studies, Jordan has received a total of $6,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships and notes, “Without this scholarship, I seriously doubt that I would have been able to pursue a college degree without having to take out substantial student loans. Thank you to John (NMN) Coffey and everyone at ThanksUSA for allowing me the opportunity of an education, I hope that in the future I can repay the favor.”

Jordan is already a successful student and the ThanksUSA team wishes him continued success with all of his endeavors. We also wish to remind military dependents and spouses that applications for the 2012-2013 ThanksUSA Scholarship will be accepted through the ThanksUSA website from April 1st through May 15th. If you haven’t already, you can register for an email reminder here.

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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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