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Posts Tagged ‘military spouse’

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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2013 Graduate

Congratulations to Marine Corps spouse and ThanksUSA scholar MaKenna Arrigo! Earlier this year, with the assistance of a $3,000 Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship, MaKenna completed her Psychology studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, earning Cum Laude honors.

Although her husband, Sergeant Christopher Arrigo, USMC, was deployed at the time, MaKenna’s mother, Marilyn Hughes, and her grandfather, Michael McDonough were in attendance to support their graduate.

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“It was the one of the happiest days of my life and also one of the most emotional as I wished my late father and my deployed husband could have been there.”

The military has always been part of MaKenna’s life. Her grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War and her father, CWO Robert Buotte, dedicated over 28 years of service to the Coast Guard before his unexpected passing in 2010.

Now that she has earned her BA in Psychology, MaKenna has been busy making plans for graduate school. Ultimately, she would like to pursue a career as a social worker within the military community.

MaKenna_Arrigo 2012

“As both a military child and spouse, I want to thank the supporters of the ThanksUSA organization from the bottom of my heart. The support from this organization has given me a chance to achieve an undergraduate college degree and now set my sights higher to a masters degree.”

.The ThanksUSA team congratulates MaKenna on her academic accomplishments and wishes her continued success with her graduate studies. In the coming weeks, Scholarship News readers will be introduced to the new 2013-2014 ThanksUSA scholarship recipients, so be sure to check back often.

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Congratulations to ThanksUSA scholars Karen and Brittany Butler! This mother/daughter duo each earned degrees from Valdosta State University and proudly walked the stage together. Karen says, “It was a great moment in my life to share something so special with my daughter!”

 

karen and brittany grad 2013

Karen, spouse of MSGT Kevin Butler, USAF RET, has received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $6,000 for her undergraduate studies at Valdosta State University.  Karen received a KPMG LLC/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2011 and an EADS/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2012.

She recently completed her Associates of Art in Business Administration and will continue her studies to earn her BA in Accounting with certification in both Healthcare Administration and Human Resources.

Kevin and Karen’s daughter, Brittany, also received $6,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships for her Biology major at Valdosta State.  She received a Blavatnik Family Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship in 2010 and an EMC Corp/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial scholarship through ThanksUSA in 2011.

This May, Brittany graduated from the Valdosta State University Honors College. She received Summa Cum Laude honors and earned her BA in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

ThanksUSA is proud to support our deserving military families and we hope you will join us in congratulating both Brittany and Karen on a job well done – Way to go ladies!!

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2013 TTTT Flyer-Update 6.3.13

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I find it inspiring that most ThanksUSA scholarship recipients report that they are passionate about their chosen field of study. When I first spoke with Nguyen Pham Seymour, I could hear this passion in her voice. Nguyen, a Marine Corps spouse, received a $3,000 LM&O Advertising/ThanksUSA Scholarship for her final year of Marketing and Psychology studies at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Just months from graduating, Nguyen is excited to share her educational accomplishments and career goals with ThanksUSA supporters.

Nguyen Pham Seymour

Nguyen first became interested in marketing when her employer challenged staff members to improve sales during the slow season. She suggested a loyalty program and volunteered to chart customer activities during implementation. Both Nguyen and her employer were pleased to see increased demand and higher client retention while competitors continued to struggle.

From that point on, Nguyen explains, “I became interested in analyzing consumer behavior during store visits. In my spare time, I would read psychology materials to gain insight about consumer behaviors. Then, I would form new marketing campaigns to capture consumers’ attention and awareness.”

For Nguyen, majoring in both marketing and psychology has been the perfect combination. “My goal,” she says, “is to have a career where I can fully utilize my analytical and quantitative skills to help businesses and organizations identify difficulties and effectively implement solutions.”

During her time at BYU-Hawaii, Nguyen has had the opportunity to work with various organizations like Deseret International, Sothys Paris, and the Sheraton and Sofital hotels. When I asked Nguyen about her favorite marketing project, she admitted that it was nearly impossible to choose, but added, “If I must (choose), I’d have to say working with Hawaii North Shore Chamber of Commerce (NSCOC) was a great experience overall. During the 6 months of working on the project, I gained tremendous insights about the marketing research process, as well as how to manage my team effectively. The NSCOC was so impressed with the result, that they asked us to present the data at the 4th Annual Hawaii North Shore Business Expo.”

Although Nguyen and her team presented their results to high-level corporate executives and Hawaiian decision makers, she says, “The best part is that businesses of all sizes can implement the results from our study to become more effective in their marketing communication efforts.”

Though she is very talented and has the education and experience to raise the profits of a potential employer, Nguyen is hardly driven by dollar signs. Instead, the devoted Marine Corps spouse is more concerned with using her strengths to help her extended military family.

She is currently in the process of building a website devoted to post traumatic stress disorder resources. With many of our active duty and retired military members suffering from PTSD, Nguyen wants to provide victims, family members, friends, and their entire support network with the latest information. She also has plans to provide innovative marketing methods and brand management training to small and mid-size businesses operated by military members and military dependents. “As a life-time member of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi, I hope to reach and change as many lives as possible and give back to those who serve and sacrifice for our nation,” she adds.

As the spouse of CPL Michael Blake Seymour, USMC, Nguyen understands sacrifice. “There is no amount of training that will prepare you to be a Marine’s wife. One thing I have learned is that anything can happen at any given moment and I need to be prepared when he leaves. Be it deployment, training, duty, there is no such thing as certainty when you are the wife of a Marine,” she remarks.

Corporal and Mrs. Michael Blake Seymour

Corporal and Mrs. Michael Blake Seymour

Aside from the stresses of military life, the Seymours are dealing with a personal health issue. Diagnosed with the rare Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, Blake recently underwent a complicated surgery. Nguyen was relieved to report that her husband has fully recovered, returned to work, and would eventually like to start a non-profit dedicated to WPW patients.

For now, the couple is planning for their next transition. Nguyen will graduate from BYU-Hawaii in April with degrees in both Marketing and Psychology, with a minor in Economics. She is proud to announce that she has accepted a position with Goldman Sachs and will start her new career in the summer. Before then, Nguyen and Blake plan to devote a month volunteering in Asia and the Pacific. What a great way to celebrate all that she has accomplished!

I hope that all ThanksUSA scholarship recipients will remain passionate about their chosen field. If you truly love what you’re doing, you’ll live a very happy life. On behalf of the entire ThanksUSA Team, I wish all of our supporters, scholarship recipients, and military families a very Happy New Year!

“I’d like to say “Thank You” for the generosity and thoughtfulness of the sponsors that allow ThanksUSA to accomplish its mission in supporting military personnel and their family members, who pay the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”  — Nguyen Pham Seymour

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Samantha McEnhill has had an exciting year. Within the past twelve months, she has gotten married, relocated 2,000 miles from her previous home, and has, ever so slightly, altered her education plan. This week, Samantha speaks about staying focused on her academic goals while adjusting to military life.

Samantha spent much of her childhood honing her musical performance skills. As she aged, the enjoyment that she got from playing instruments developed into a love for music. Soon after, she realized the cultural value of all the arts and explains, “From visual art to literature, my love for the humanities and fine arts grew from a budding curiosity into a genuine passion.”

Thanks, in part, to a $3,000 Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Samantha is now able to study the arts full-time. Samantha’s academic journey began three years ago at Michigan State University. When her husband received orders to California, Samantha was determined to complete her education. She is currently studying liberal arts at Solano Community College and plans to return to a four-year university to finish her humanities degree.

Samantha says, “Even though my bachelor’s degree may be taking longer to finish than I originally planned, I am staying focused on the positives. I would definitely encourage others not to dwell on setbacks you may be facing!”

Samantha also points out that she is not alone on her academic journey. Her husband, Airman Richard “Rick” McEnhill II, USAF, is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree with plans to commission as a Combat Rescue Officer. Samantha adds, “He is a great man, and I am so glad I get to stand by his side and watch his military career progress, all the way from its beginning to end!”

The young couple has adapted well to their first big PCS. They have settled into their new home, found a welcoming church to call their own, and began volunteering with San Francisco’s Marine Mammal Center.

As Rick and Samantha face the challenges of military life together, Samantha’s attitude remains positive. Ideally, she will earn her teaching credentials so that she can teach art history or humanities. She realizes that another PCS could further delay her degree, but says, “This is not a race to see who can finish their degree first. The education does not diminish in value based on the time it takes to complete.”

Well said, Samantha! ThanksUSA is honored to provide scholarships to military dependents and spouses. You can help provide the gift of education by making your tax-deductible donation today. You can even direct your Combined Federal Campaign contribution to ThanksUSA by using code 99441 on your pledge form.

“The Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship has made an incredible difference in my education this year! We can breathe so much easier knowing that there are foundations like ThanksUSA who are willing to offer scholarship support to military families, so we can continue our education. We are so grateful.”

– Samantha McEnhill

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Thank the Troops by Giving the Gift of Education

As part of Tennis Thanks the Troops, the United States Professional Tennis Association and ThanksUSA have teamed up to encourage USPTA professionals to fund scholarships for the families of military men and women.

Holly & Lam Le

During Tennis Thanks the Troops, Veterans Day, November 11, the tennis community nationwide is asked to donate a minimum of $5 to the ThanksUSA organization, which provides need-based post-secondary scholarships for college, technical and vocational school, to the children and spouses of active-duty military men and women. Since its inception in 2006, ThanksUSA has awarded 2,800 scholarships totaling nearly $8.5 million.

Many USTA clubs have already hosted tournaments in support of Tennis Thanks the Troops. Earlier this year, the San Diego District Tennis Association, a member of USTA Southern California, made Tennis Thanks the Troops a part of their Annual Tennis Fest. As a reward for raising the most funds for ThanksUSA during the first half of the year, SDDTA received two tickets to the 2012 U.S. Open. Dedicated to our military heroes, SDDTA passed the tickets on to Wounded Warrior, SGT Lam Le, USMC, and spouse, Holly.

Raise your racquets in support of our troops and their families by providing the gift of education. Register your club today!

SDDTA recently presented Marine Corps spouse, Kara Andryushina, with the $3,000 San Diego District Tennis Association/ThanksUSA Scholarship. Pictured above are M.A. Hillier, SDDTA Board Member, Steve Kappes, SDDTA President, Geoff Griffin, SDDTA Board Member and Tennis Director at Balboa Tennis Club, Colonel Aleksandr Andryushina, USMC, Kara’s mother Barbara, Kara, Kara’s step-father Richard, and Aleksandr & Kara’s daughter Madison

Kara is currently completing her Respiratory Therapy studies at Grossmont College. When she graduates next May, this dedicated wife and mother plans to pursue a career as a pulmonary rehabilitation specialist at a VA hospital.

Kara’s educational journey has not been easy. In 2010, while completing pre-requisites for the respiratory therapy program, she received notice that her husband, Corporal Aleksandr Andryushina, had been injured while serving in Afghanistan.

Aleksandr had been medically evacuated to Germany for evaluation. Not only did a CT scan confirm a brain injury, the scan also revealed a brain tumor. Kara put her studies on hold to be with her husband. The young family, including daughter Madison, spent the next year focusing on Aleksandr’s health.

Currently, Aleksandr is assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion West as he continues with his recovery. Kara resumed her respiratory therapy studies and is looking forward to graduating with honors. Even young Madison has an update…she will soon be a big sister.

“I cannot express how grateful my family and I are to have this gift of education. My husband has been a great example of what tenacity means and what it takes to remain positive in the face of adversity. You have given us more than just a monetary gift, you have given us peace of mind in a time of uncertainty.”
– Kara Andryushina

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Sometimes, life just seems to get in the way…especially when you’re “married to the military” and raising three children. This week’s featured scholar, Christine Carenza, began her collegiate journey 20 years ago. Now, with the help of a $3,000 Intelligent Decisions Inc/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Christine is looking forward to completing her B.S. in Elementary Education by year’s end.

Christine with husband, CMSgt Joe Carenza

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Christine’s husband, Chief Master Sergeant Joe Carenza, USAF, has been serving our country for the past twenty-eight years. During that time, the family has moved ten times and Christine has attended six colleges. With each of these institutions requiring different undergraduate course work, Christine found herself losing valuable credits every time she moved. Then, at the recommendation of a coworker, Christine looked into an online degree program at Grand Canyon University.

Christine was relieved to find a school that would move with her no matter where the family was stationed. “It’s so much more convenient, especially for military spouses, because you can complete your degree from start to finish even if you get transferred overseas,” she added.

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This Fall, Christine will complete her student teaching requirements in her local school district and be qualified to teach grades k-8. Preferably, she would like to work with a fourth or fifth grade level explaining, “They are really eager learners at that point and I feel that I can really reach them and help them learn.”

Christine hasn’t always been interested in pursuing a teaching degree. Her post-secondary education began when an employer offered her tuition reimbursement. She was working as a secretary at the time and was able to earn her AA in Business Administration. She had also taken pre-requisites for a nursing degree, but a move overseas prevented her from continuing her nursing studies. Always eager to be involved with her children, Christine began working at her children’s school which inspired her to earn her B.S. in Elementary Education. She explains, “I always idolized teachers and when I started volunteering with students, I realized, ‘I can do this!’ and I began setting my goals.”

As a future teacher, Christine has already gained experience as a teacher’s aide for preschool and kindergarten students and has observed at a local parochial school. As the mother of three sons aged 11, 14, and 19, Christine has been volunteering in multiple classrooms since the mid 90’s. In addition to her studies, she remains actively involved with her Church, military spouse groups, and  volunteers with Boy Scouts.

The Carenza’s oldest son, Matthew, began college in 2011 and Christine was initially concerned about the financial burden of paying tuition for two family members. “It’s so nice not to have to worry so much. Receiving the Intelligent Decisions Inc/ThanksUSA Scholarship made it possible for me to continue my education.”

Joe, Christopher, Christine, Tony, & Matthew Carenza

Although the financial assistance was certainly a contributing factor to Christine’s continuing education, the real driving force behind her success has always been her family. “Without their support I would never have been able to get this far in my education,” she says.

The entire ThanksUSA team is grateful to our donors and sponsors for helping ThanksUSA support deserving students like Christine. We remind all potential applicants that 2012-2013 ThanksUSA Scholarship applications will be accepted online from April 1 through May 15 and you are encouraged to register for an email reminder here.

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In the spring of 2010, Amanda Blount was a young, expectant, Army wife. Her husband, Army Specialist William Anthony Blount, had secured mid-term R&R so he could witness the birth of his daughter. Tragically, on April 7, Specialist Blount was killed in Mosul, Iraq, when his vehicle was attacked with an IED. He died one month shy of Avery Elizabeth Blount’s birth.

Amanda & Avery Elizabeth Blount

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With the loving support of her family, Amanda Blount is pressing forward. As an Army widow and single parent, she decided to pursue her education to ensure a better future for Avery Elizabeth. With the financial assistance of a $3000 Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Amanda is a freshman in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at Pearl River Community College.

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Born and raised in Hattiesburg, MS, Amanda says that she has always wanted to give back to her supportive community. Her mother, a nurse, encouraged her to explore areas of study within the medical field and Amanda was soon drawn to the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

“I was captivated by the structures of the body and its ability to recover from disease and injury,” says Amanda. She also explained the mental aspect of physical therapy adding, “Not only does physical therapy help a patient return to previous activity levels, it provides reassurance and the motivation necessary for patients to reach their goals.”

Amanda has excelled academically and plans to continue her education and earn her undergraduate business degree. Describing herself as detail oriented and business-minded, Amanda’s end goal is to manage her own physical therapy office. But for right now, Amanda is focused on her studies and providing the best life possible for her daughter, Avery Elizabeth.

Education has become such a driving force in Amanda’s life that she helped establish the SPC William Anthony Blount Memorial Scholarship at his alma mater, Petal High School. Each year, teachers at Petal High School nominate a senior who demonstrates academic and civic excellence. Amanda explained that the scholarship recipient is always kind, shows eagerness to help others, and is never boastful…qualities that her own humble hero possessed.

In Memory of Specialist William Anthony Blount, United States Army

ThanksUSA is honored to be a part of Amanda’s academic journey and though she has been through much, Amanda says, “I am quite determined. Despite my hardships, I have to do what my husband would want me to do, ‘keep my chin up.’ It’s not easy most of the time, but I have our daughter to motivate me, to give me a reason to keep pushing and make me smile.”

Are you a military spouse considering pursuing your degree? We hope that Amanda’s story has inspired and motivated you! ThanksUSA Scholarship applications are accepted every year from April 1 through May 15 and we encourage you to register for a reminder. We close this week’s Scholarship News blog with a message for the Folds of Honor Foundation from Amanda:

“Thank you for choosing me as a recipient of the Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship. It makes a huge difference to me as I study to become a physical therapist assistant. Thank you for being mindful of those who have served their country. My husband and our family have made the ultimate sacrifice. Again, thank you!”

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Wendy Hepp is pursuing her degree in Early Childhood Education at Urbana University. The recipient of a $3000 Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Wendy shares her educational goals and offers valuable advice to fellow military spouses.

The Hepp Family

Wendy admits that the uncertainty of military life can be quite challenging. When her husband, Jeff, was deployed, she decided to invest in her education. “I was not working and had been considering returning to school for some time. I am very happy with my decision and the timing in which I did so. I had school work to keep me occupied and I think the challenge and time spent on me helped me cope as a single parent while my husband was away,” says Wendy.

Wendy and Jeff are the parents of two beautiful daughters and they are expecting their third child later this spring. Wendy says that parenting led to her interest in Early Childhood Education and volunteering in her children’s classrooms has given her both insight and experience. Upon graduation, Wendy looks forward to becoming an elementary school teacher.

When I learned that Wendy was a military spouse, parent of two, school volunteer, and student (all while expecting baby number three), I knew that she was an incredibly focused woman. I was so inspired by Wendy’s wisdom, that I had to share it with other military families:

“My advice for military spouses is to make goals for yourself and set out to attain them. It is sort of taught that you should put all of your efforts towards your family and spouse, but it is important to remember your own wants and dreams. My husband and children are not getting less of me because I am in school, but maybe even more of me because of all the interesting experiences I am having and the time I am investing in myself.

My life is challenging, but it is also very rewarding. I have a great support system, including a wonderful husband who helps when I need study time or just a mental health break, and a fantastic mother who baby-sits whenever we need help. I could not do it without their help. I must also add that the faculty at Urbana University has been a very big help as well. They are willing to work around my life to help me meet my goals. With this amazing ThanksUSA scholarship, I was able to borrow $1,500 less in school loans and pay for my books for an entire year! This is a tremendous help to me and my husband financially. I will be taking the summer off and spending it with my children and then get back into the swing of things in the fall.

I feel very strongly that we can achieve what we put our minds to. It sounds as if my life should be stressful and hectic, but in reality I am very satisfied and content. We will never know what we are truly made of unless we challenge ourselves. That is the most important lesson I have learned from being a military spouse while my husband was deployed. It is a lesson that is perhaps unique to those of us who have served here at home while our spouses were away, and we should use that lesson to our benefit.”  -Wendy Hepp

Wendy, thank you for the encouragement! I’m confident that you will be able to motivate and inspire your students.  ThanksUSA is proud to assist you in your educational pursuits and looks forward to awarding even more scholarships for the 2010/2011 academic year.  ThanksUSA scholarship applications will be accepted between April 1 and May 15, 2010.  Register for scholarship notification here.  You can also get updates by following ThanksUSA on twitter or becoming our Fan.

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