Posts Tagged ‘music’

Though a very well-rounded individual, Air Force dependent Jacob Humerick has one true passion – music. Preparing for his final year of Music Education studies at Western Connecticut State University, Jacob is eager to begin a career inspiring the next generation of talented musicians. With an instrumental focus on trumpet, Jacob explains, “Music is a universal language that breaks down social barriers.  I believe that it is very important to teach music, and that is why I want to become a music educator.”


Anyone who has school-aged children is acutely aware of the drastic budget cuts that have affected our public schools in recent years. As Jacob prepares for a career as an educator, he reflects on the importance of continuing music education in our schools saying, “There are so many interests that students need to be exposed to in order to become a well-rounded citizens.  Studies have shown a strong relationship of music participation to success in other areas such as science and mathematics.”

Jacob’s own academic success certainly reflects this correlation. In addition to the typical college coursework, he has frequent trumpet rehearsals and performances and has spent much of the past year shadowing music educators to develop his own teaching style; all while maintaining a near perfect GPA. Jacob acknowledges that his family has been a huge factor in his success by nurturing his passion since an early age. The middle son of Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Humerick (USAF, RET) and Lisa Humerick, Jacob grew up in the typical military environment…relocating every two years, making new friends, and attending a new school. Over the years, music remained a constant in his life. No matter where the Air Force sent the Humericks, Jacob was able to continue his music through participation in church ensembles and school bands. When asked what advice her has for younger military dependents, Jacob quotes advice that he received from a pastor, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Last week, Jacob and his family joined ThanksUSA friends and supporters to celebrate our mission during the Treasure Our Troops Gala. During the event, Senator Joseph Lieberman was presented with the ThanksUSA Military Families Award, recognizing his dedication and leadership to our nation. In Senator Lieberman’s honor, Jacob was awarded the 2012 Senator Joseph Lieberman/ThanksUSA Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.

As mentioned earlier, Jacob is one of three young Humerick men. His older brother, Zachary, received ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $5,000 to pursue his degree at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In 2010, Zachary earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Physics and is currently pursuing his M.S. in Chemical Engineering. Upon graduation, Zachary plans to pursue a career in alternative energy. Younger brother, Matthew, is preparing for his sophomore year of studies at Western New England University, where he is pursuing a degree in Business and Sports Management.

Jacob adds, “Any scholarship reduces the cost of education significantly which is important for families, such as mine, with multiple children pursuing higher education. ThanksUSA recognizes the military dependents and the silent sacrifice they make as their father or mother…or sometimes both parents…serve our country whether they are deployed to a hostile area or at home protecting us. ThanksUSA knows the stress that military places on families and provides financial aid because they care about the home. The benefactors to ThanksUSA may not fully understand how significant their donations are to students like me. I assure you that the recipients appreciate all of the help and support you provide.

It is because of our generous supporters that ThanksUSA is able to continue our mission of providing scholarships to the children and spouses of our military personnel. In a few short weeks, recipients of 2012-2013 ThanksUSA scholarship will be notified and we’ll begin sharing their stories here on the Scholarship News blog. Thank you for your continued support!

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Kyle Werstein wants to use his education to inspire others to take action. The recipient of a $3000 ESA foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Kyle is currently in his sophomore year of Graphic Design studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Kyle Werstein with his parents, Patricia and Timothy

Kyle describes graphic design as a means for “creating timeless communication that can be applied across a variety of mediums.”  He points out that as an increasingly paperless society, “It’s an exciting time to be a designer and a communicator. We have the unique opportunity to attempt to bring hundreds of years of tradition designing on paper into the digital age.”

Kyle has already demonstrated his talent and is beginning to gain recognition in his field. Below is a recent CD cover that he designed for Minneapolis jazz artist, Cory Wong.

design by Kyle Werstein

Like most artists, Kyle’s interests are not limited to his field of study. He enjoys exploring other graphic-related arts such as painting and screen printing, while expressing his interests in the performing arts through writing and performing with a Minneapolis rock band.

When Kyle completes his undergraduate studies, he plans to continue his education by earning his masters and doctorate degrees. “I hope to eventually work my way into the field of nonprofits and community involvement, using my skills to generate awareness and involvement in great issues affecting us today,” says Kyle.

He has already demonstrated his commitment to community outreach at the campus level. As part of an internship, Kyle created a social media campaign for a non-profit Equine Therapy center. He also co-founded MCAD’s bike club which subsidizes inexpensive bicycle helmets for students and he creates communications to raise scholarship funds through the alumni relations department.

Kyle clearly demonstrates the “pay it forward” concept that ThanksUSA supporters understand so well. He notes that his military upbringing shaped him into the respectful and civic-minded young man that he is today.

Kyle’s father, Sergeant First Class Timothy Werstein, U.S. Army (Ret), served our country for nearly 25 years. Kyle’s pride shines through as he reflects on his father’s career saying, “He’s served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Qatar and left the service with a number of commendations and accolades. If anything, my dad provided me with a strong role model and someone to look up to. His career compounded his own strong work ethic, which he in turn passed on to me. Being a military child has not been something I have ever taken for granted. It’s taught me respect for civics and my country, instilled in me a worldview that far surpasses most people my age and showed me the value of sacrifice. I’m grateful every day for the experience I have had.”

Now, as a young adult, Kyle is applying his strong work ethic to his collegiate pursuits. ThanksUSA is proud to be a part of Kyle’s educational journey and we thank him for sharing with us. We close this week’s feature with a message of gratitude from Kyle:

“Receiving the $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship has provided me with a great sense of financial security. Paying for college is an extremely stressful endeavor, and your generous sponsorship has awarded me with an indescribable peace of mind. Thank you for giving an opportunity to the children of military families, as well, and recognizing the unique sacrifices we, as “Brats,” make every day. From the bottom of mine and my family’s heart, thank you.”

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This week I am happy to introduce University of Maryland: College Park sophomore, Rachel Sebastian. Rachel has received consecutive ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $6000, including a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship for the 2011/2012 academic year.

Rachel Sebastian

A music education major with a concentration in musical performance, Rachel’s current long-term plans including teaching at the k-12 level. “Last year I had the opportunity to observe many music classes all around the DC area,” says Rachel. “I enjoyed each of the unique experiences that the different classes provided. The general music classes that I observed in the elementary schools piqued my interests the most. The classes are high energy and the students are constantly engaged. The teachers have freedom to teach from a variety of musical concepts in creative ways. I love the excitement and joy that young children bring to music, and I think that elementary general music would be the most fun job I could have,” Rachel adds.

Since Rachel speaks so passionately about teaching music to young children, I felt compelled to ask her about funding cuts to programs such as music education. She responded, “Music, as well as many other arts programs, is certainly a vital part to a quality education. Music engages the brain and the body in a way that no other subject can. I have read numerous studies that prove that music enriches child development not only by increasing cognitive abilities, but also by building social and critical-thinking skills. From my own experiences, I have observed that children truly blossom through the expressive and creative outlet that music provides, whether in a general music, band, orchestra, or choir class.”

Rachel’s concentration in music performance will provide her with the necessary training and applied lessons to be a professional French Horn performer. In addition to her studies, Rachel is also devoted to many causes on faith-based organizations on campus including Terps for Life, the Navigators, the Catholic student association, and the University of Maryland chapter of Catholic Daughters of America.

On Monday, November 14th, Rachel, and her family will join ThanksUSA at DAR Constitution Hall for the ThanksUSA Benefit Concert to celebrate our military families. Rachel’s father, Commander James Sebastian, has served with the United States Coast Guard for nearly 25 years. During his service, Rachel has lived in nine different homes and says the experience has taught her to be flexible. She has developed many long-distance friendships and feels that she adjusts easily to new or different situations. She also notes the closeness of her family saying, “My family is incredibly supportive and I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Speaking of her family, Rachel’s older sister, Rebekah, received a $1500 ThanksUSA Scholarship in 2006 for her studies at Louisiana Tech. Rebekah completed her undergraduate studies in 2009 and is currently attending physical therapy school at the University of Delaware.

The ThanksUSA team is proud to have assisted both Sebastian sisters with their educational pursuits and we look forward to following the progress of Rachel’s undergraduate studies. We close this week’s Scholarship News blog with a few words from Rachel to the ESA Foundation and all ThanksUSA supporters:

“This scholarship money has been such a blessing to me! I am now attending a college that I could never have even imagined myself attending. Every once in a while I look around, astonished at my school, classes, professors, and extremely talented classmates and I am in awe that I have the privilege to attend a school that I am so in love with. I will be able to graduate from the University of Maryland debt-free with experience and knowledge that will help me to get a job as a music teacher.”

Be sure to check our Facebook page next week for photos and concert highlights!

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Travis Clark


Travis Clark has ambitions of appearing in a Broadway musical or a major motion pictures. This past week, with the assistance of a $3000 Folds of Honor/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Travis enthusiastically began his theatre studies at Augustana College.

The son of MSGT Michael Clark (USAF, RET) and Karline Clark, Travis had a typical military childhood including moves between duty stations. Travis says, “Military children quickly realize that whether they want to or not, they will have to meet, interact, and depend on new people in new places.” As an adult, Travis looks back at military life and appreciates all of the once “new people” who became close friends.



Travis first became interested in theatre during middle school. Prompted by encouragement from his parents, Travis decided to join the drama club of his middle school. He quickly found friends with similar interests and loved learning how to assemble sets, direct lighting, and supervise wardrobe. When Travis began acting, his behind-the-scenes knowledge served him well.

Travis notes that acting can be a genuine confidence booster. Of course he likes the recognition he receives from a good performance, but says that the recognition is also humbling. He feels that his theatre background has given him a better grasp of emotions which allows him to make more genuine connections with people.

In addition to his acting talents, Travis is also an accomplished musician and singer and plans to carry a minor in music. He envisions a career beginning with community theatres and traveling bands or choirs and evolving from there. Though his ultimate career goal is that of a professional actor, he is also realistic and knows that a “fall-back” career is a necessity of the industry. Influenced primarily by his high school drama teacher, Travis is considering a double major in education and says that he can definitely see himself as a drama teacher in the future.

If he adds an education major to his undergraduate studies, Travis doesn’t have far to look for guidance. His mother, Karline, received a $4400 ThanksUSA Scholarship in 2006 to earn her teaching credentials from Black Hills State University. For the past five years, Karline has taught business, computer technology, and yearbook classes at Douglas High School and recently earned her graduate degree in education.

The ThanksUSA team wishes both Travis and Karline continued success and we leave readers with messages from each:

“Thanks USA has helped me and my family with dreams of continuing our education and pursing our dreams. Thank you so much for all of your support.”  – Karline Clark

“I just want to say how great it is for ThanksUSA and Folds of Honor to help both my mother and me with our financial concerns and to help us attain a higher knowledge and learning experience. Thanks ThanksUSA, and Thanks Folds of Honor.”  Travis Clark

Travis and Karline Clark

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