Posts Tagged ‘nursing’

In 2005, Laura Gomez-Clinton learned that her husband, SSG Juan Hernandez, had been injured while serving in Iraq. She spent the next two years by his side as he recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Though his physical wounds eventually healed, SSG Hernandez could not overcome his PTSD. He passed away in October 2009, leaving Laura to raise their children, Abby and Aaron.

Laura was suddenly a 26-year-old widow with two young children. She took the time to mourn, but quickly realized that she needed to take control of her life and provide for her children. She thought about the care and attention that her husband had received from the nursing staff at Walter Reed and decided that she, too, could offer that support to others.

In 2010, Laura enrolled in Emory University. With the assistance of a $3,000 Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Laura is just a few months away from completing her Nursing degree. This May, she will graduate from Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing with her BSN.

Laura has excelled academically and has already been offered full-time employment in the Emergency Department of Spalding Regional Hospital and the OR at Emory University Midtown Hospital. She says, “The hardest part is behind me. I am so proud of my husband’s service and I know that he would be proud of what I have accomplished for our family. Knowing that I have the support of this scholarship means so much to me. Thank you!”

Laura is one of five scholars to receive the Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year. Heartland 4 Heroes and ThanksUSA will be holding their 2nd Annual Golf Tournament Fundraiser, in conjunction with Red Cloud Food Services, Inc. on April 7, 2014, at The Governor’s Club in Brentwood, Tennessee. 

Heartland 4 Heroes/ThanksUSA Scholarships benefit the spouses and children of those serving in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.


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Frances KarnuthWhether you’re military or civilian, we’ve all had those overwhelming moments that just seem impossible to overcome. This week’s featured ThanksUSA scholar, Frances Karnuth, has a very inspirational outlook on those moments. “You can sit there and be overwhelmed, or you can get up and change the situation. Your goals are much more attainable than you think!”

A Coast Guard spouse and mother of six, Frances was awarded a $3,000 Pershing Square Foundation/ThanksUSA scholarship for her Psychology and Nursing majors. With the end goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner, Frances is currently enrolled in both Regent University and Maryville University.

Over twenty years ago, Frances enrolled in a nursing program and was doing very well. Unfortunately, she had to take a medical leave of absence and during that time, the school closed. Although she was unable to complete the program, Frances says, “The desire to become a nurse never waned.”

Though a nursing degree was still her goal, family commitments took priority. Her husband, Franz, was beginning an active-duty career in the United States Coast Guard and the couple were starting their family.

When she was just three years old, the Karnuths’ eldest daughter, Janelle, was diagnosed with cancer. “This resulted in years of extensive chemotherapy and follow-up appointments.” Being a stay-at-home mom during those years provided the entire family with nurturing stability and consistency.

Frances has home-schooled each of her children. Over the years, she has grown to recognize different learning styles and study habits. Having to adjust a lesson plan or modify her teaching has had a very positive effect on her as a student. Frances explains, “I have a better understanding of how to adapt so that I can succeed.”

If her teaching success is any indication, Frances will have no problem succeeding as a student. Today, Janelle is a happy, healthy, young woman who is working towards a degree in Creative Arts Therapy. Son Josh is a lab technician at a package testing laboratory (he actually gets to blow things up!), while son Tim is a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Younger children, Josiah, Eric, and Elisha still sit down and do homework at the same time as Mom. “They often see me working just a hard as they do. I learn–that’s my job!” In 2009, Franz retired from the Coast Guard after 22 years of service. He continues to serve our country as a civilian.

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Many military spouses contemplate returning to school. When asked if she had advice to offer, Frances said, “It’s easier if you’re flexible with your goals. I plan to accomplish my professional goal by working diligently towards completing smaller goals.”

Setting those smaller goals is certainly working to her advantage. Frances will earn her Associates Degree in Psychology this spring from Regent University and will transfer to Maryville as a full-time student seeking dual Bachelor degrees in Nursing and Psychology.  She explains, “By including both physical and psychological aspects to my training as a nurse practitioner, I will be better equipped to understand the medical needs of my patients.”

With encouragement from her loving family, the military community, and ThanksUSA supporters, Frances will continue to succeed. She is appreciative of the Pershing Square/ThanksUSA scholarship and says, “Your gift helps me financially and has provided a much-needed dose of emotional encouragement. It is wonderful knowing that others have faith in me. Thank you again–I won’t let you down.”

The ThanksUSA team extends our warmest wishes to all families, military and civilian, this Holiday season. We thank you for contributing to ThanksUSA scholarships in 2013 and encourage you to support the educational goals of military spouses, like Frances, by making your tax-deductible donation to ThanksUSA today.


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The Whitmore family had a lot to celebrate recently as sisters Victoria (Tori) and Katherine (Katie) each graduated with honors from Hardin-Simmons University. The graduation event was indeed a family affair, with their father, Air Force Chaplain Eric Whitmore (Capt.), delivering the opening prayer at the commencement ceremony. Thanks to generous sponsors like the ESA Foundation and Blavatnik Family Foundation, the duo received $15,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships over the past four years. Although the sisters are now preparing to pursue different paths, their altruistic natures still shines through:

Victoria Whitmore 

Receiving $6,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships helped Tori earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After interning with the Department of Veterans Affairs last summer, Tori knew that she had found her calling. Having recently applied for a nursing position at the VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC, Tori will train with other new nurses to solidify her nursing assessments and skills. Eventually, she would like to work in long-term/hospice care or as a rehabilitation nurse. Tori adds, “I believe a nurse’s responsibility is to facilitate the physical, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual health of their patients. In these areas of healthcare, I have a greater opportunity to assist with all types of healing so that the individual and their families can come to a more holistic sense of wellbeing.”

Katherine Whitmore

Katie received $9,000 in ThanksUSA scholarships and earned her Bachelor of Behavioral Science degree. When she began college, Katie envisioned a career as a Foreign Service Officer traveling the world and exchanging ideas with different cultures. The further she delved into her political science studies, the more she realized that her true desire was to bring humanitarian aid to those in need. Katie now believes that her future lies with non-government organizations. At present, she is preparing for a six month mission with the Experience Mission organization that will take her from a Navajo reservation in Arizona to South Africa, Mozambique, and Lesotho. Katie is confident that her education will allow her to better understand the needs of these communities and bring education, healthcare, and sustainability to their lives.

ThanksUSA is honored to support such dedicated and selfless scholars. We wish these young ladies all the best and look forward to bringing you updates on both Tori’s career and Katie’s mission. Each and every year, ThanksUSA receives thousands of scholarship applications from military spouses and dependents seeking to better their lives through education. We receive updates from ThanksUSA scholars who are doing exactly what Tori and Katie are doing – paying it forward. Click here to make your tax-deductible donation today…it will make a difference!

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Gabriella “Ellie” Cavuoti is a compassionate nursing student who believes in the personal philosophy: “to those who are given much, much is owed to others.” This week, the Truman State University freshman shares her academic goals and how the $3,000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship is helping her achieve them.

Ellie’s father, Lt. Col. Frank Cavuoti, USAF (RET), has been serving our nation since 1985. Lt. Col. Cavuoti was an Air Force pilot during his active-duty service and now continues to work with the Air Force as a civilian. Ellie reflects on her military life saying, “It has given me the opportunity to see the world and cultures through different eyes and many locations.”

Though there were many duty stations, Ellie’s parents always made sure that the family helped to build and care for the local community. Ellie adopted the concepts of “pay it forward” and “take care of your own” and is now looking forward to serving the communities of Missouri as a registered nurse.

“Missouri is my home. I want to have an impact and make a difference where I live with the people I love,” explains Ellie. She says she chose Truman State University because, although relatively small, it provides rigorous academics which best reflect Ellie’s personality and her “desire to work more closely with people at the core level.”

Her desire to serve others is also reflected in charitable efforts through the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She has already volunteered with the local animal shelter, tutored elementary students, and participated in food, coat, and blood drives.

In addition to her work through ΑΦΩ, Ellie volunteers with many children’s-focused causes like Nathan’s Quest, Vacation Bible School, and Parish School of Religion. Children hold a special place in Ellie’s heart and she knows that she will eventually marry and start a family of her own. Upon completion of her undergraduate nursing studies, Ellie plans to complete a graduate program and specialize in pediatric nursing.

When she speaks about the impact that the ThanksUSA Scholarship has had on her freshman year of studies, Ellis says, “It has truly inspired me. I feel that I have the ability and skills to succeed. The ESA Foundation sponsorship of my ThanksUSA Scholarship and your vote of confidence bolsters my pride and allows me to focus on my studies. Ultimately, it is a win-win situation. Your investment in me and my investment in my studies will go a long way in making our society a better place.”

Truly a worthy investment! You can invest in deserving scholars like Ellie by making your tax-deductible donation to ThanksUSA today. All military dependents and spouses are reminded that applications for the 2012-2013 academic year will be available online from April 1 through May 15, 2012. Current ThanksUSA Scholarship recipients and prospective applicants are encouraged to register for an email reminder here.

As always, we welcome your words of encouragement for Ellie and leave you with a message of gratitude from Ellie:

“I would like to thank the ESA Foundation and ThanksUSA Scholarship committee for helping to provide me with this wonderful opportunity to attend the university of my dreams. It truly speaks volumes about these organizations in that they care about the education and future of young adults of America. I am grateful to be a part of this scholarship program and wish the best to other applicants in the years to come!”

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Victoria Whitmore

ThanksUSA Scholars are awesome! They excel academically, give back to their communities, and inspire others. This week’s featured scholar, Victoria Whitmore, represents all of these qualities and more. Tori received a $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship for her Nursing studies at Hardin-Simmons University. Tori has always excelled academically, but when she sought guidance about college and career choices, she was given the standard, “anything you put your mind to” advice. She considered poli-sci, but soon discovered that it wasn’t a good fit . Tori explains, “I wanted to do something hands-on, something that maximized my desire to restore, something that almost always resolved, and something that gave me the autonomy to make some of my own decisions. Nursing provided these opportunities.”

As she completes her junior year of studies, Tori considers her first career move. “As it stands, I hope to begin my career with the Veterans Affairs, or VA, hospital system. Although my Dad (CPT Eric Whitmore, USAF) was in and out of the service throughout my elementary and junior high years, I was immersed into the military community when mid-high school he was stationed in the Far East. Not just an island, but an island off of the island (that is, Okinawa). The sense of isolation soldiers and their families’ experience there can swallow a person and drive them to obsessive and intense workouts, substance abuse, or one another. As the chaplain’s daughter, I really only had one option. I found comfort by befriending those who suffered as I did and who, on an island 70×7 miles, would be those I saw daily at school, church, and in our neighborhood.

I’ve learned that our geriatric population also falls prey to isolation as their senses deteriorate and they spend more time in solitude. Those soldiers who returned home post-Vietnam and were met with resistance are particularly at risk and often don’t access their due benefits because of their distrust of the feds or the colossal amounts of so-called red tape. Who can reach them? Those who have suffered as they have.

I can’t pretend to have experienced the same events that veterans have undergone. But a community unlike any other I’ve encountered exists between those who have lost or feared loss in association with the US military; multiple times in complete strangers I have discovered old friends. As a nurse, I have the opportunity to stay connected with this community, while reducing suffering in all its expressions.”

Katie & Tori Whitmore

Though she didn’t realize it at the time, growing up in a military family prepared Tori for many aspects of college life. “I was very fortunate to have a father whose specialties in the USAF allowed him to be transferred to very diverse locations. Because he began his career as an enlisted broadcaster, he had a late start to the chaplaincy, which slowed his ranking as an officer. He was less “valuable” in terms of assignment placements so was more apt for getting those he was interested in. Thus, I spent roughly half of my life in overseas assignments in Portugal, Holland, and Japan.


Although I enjoyed the opportunities to explore the world through my father’s military career, I found that moving became more difficult as I grew older and tried to develop more meaningful relationships. Entering junior high in southwestern Oklahoma was no easy task and uprooting to Japan once settled was a huge hit. Texans just can’t do without their Friday night football and marching band!”

When she first entered Hardin-Simmons University, Tori immediately looked for ways to incorporate her global views and understanding into her college experience. Along with her sister, Katie, she became part of the International Student Fellowship. “The next year as the event coordinator, I was planning projects to introduce the Chinese Malaysians to cattle ranching and the cattle ranchers to Chinese New Year. Both were successful!”

Tori Whitmore with members of Hardin-Simmons International Student Fellowship

Tori also looked for a way to give back to the local community. She visited several churches and eventually found a special ministry which primarily served the homeless, impoverished, and underprivileged. Tori began volunteering with the kindergarten and first grade Sunday School class and after several weeks of assisting, the lead teaching position became available. Tori says, ” Here, on a golden platter, was my place of service. I look forward to seeing “my kids” every week!”

Next year, Tori will graduate from Hardin-Simmons with her BSN and will begin to serve others as a Registered Nurse. ThanksUSA is confident that Tori will make an excellent nurse and we look forward to bringing our supporters updates on her academics and future career. In closing, Tori delivers a special thank-you to the ESA Foundation for sponsoring her ThanksUSA scholarship:

“Many scholarships are available for first-year college students and then expire. Having faced my second year with significantly reduced financial aid, I was extremely concerned about entrance into nursing school in my third year. The ThanksUSA scholarship I received not only covered costs comparable to my $2,000 textbooks, but also my uniforms and other specialty equipment needed for the field. As a person who takes my studies very seriously, it’s a huge relief to be able to spend more time focusing on them and less time at the workplace to pay for school. Thank y’all so much!”

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



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Military families come in all sizes…including single parent households.  There are many dedicated service members who manage their career, including deployments, as single parents.  Of course there are challenges, but this week’s outstanding scholar, Symone Everett-Day, is proof that a child can be raised successfully in a loving, single-parent, military home.

Symone Everett-Day

Symone’s mother, Mia Everett, initially joined the Army to pay for her own nursing studies.  Symone reflects on the early years of Mia’s career, saying, “My mom was a full-time student, single mother, and recent military recruit. Because of her busy schedule, it was hard to see her at times.  The most difficult time for me was during my 8th and 9th grade years.  My mother was actively deployed and my brother and I had to move in with my grandparents.  It was very difficult not being able to see my mother when I came home from school, talk to her when I needed advice, or to just hug her when I needed love and support.”

Although deployments were always hard, Symone was actually influenced by her mother’s career.  “My mother is a registered nurse, and she initially introduced me to nursing.  I remember playing with her stethoscope, listening to my heart, and looking through her nursing books.  Those experiences shape how passionate I am about nursing because it has been a part of my life for so long.  I also want to make a difference in my community and in the world.  Nursing will allow me to provide healthcare, as well as positively affecting others.  I honestly could not see myself in any other profession besides nursing,” explains Symone.

Thanks in part to a $3000 Col. Abraham M Ehrlich/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Symone is able to pursue her dreams of becoming a nurse at Florida A&M University.  “Getting accepted in the nursing program brought both joy and anxiety.  It required me to pay for uniforms, supplies, and testing books in addition to tuition.   I was not sure how I would be able to afford all the expenses.   The ThanksUSA scholarship program decreased that anxiety and allowed me to focus on my college career.”   Symone adds, “I would like to personally acknowledge the opportunities that the ThanksUSA scholarship program has given me throughout this semester.  It was truly a blessing in its own. Thank you!”

Symone excels in her studies and her proficiency has led to tutoring other students in Pathophysiology.  She also volunteers with Active Minds, a campus organization that acts as a liaison between the student body and counseling center to educate students about mental illness.   After completing her nursing studies, Symone plans to attend graduate school and become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.  Ultimately, Symone plans to open her own practice to help children who are less fortunate.

That is the focused plan of a successful, determined student.   My accolades to Mia Everett for raising such a compassionate daughter while achieving her own educational and career goals.  Symone, keep up the great work – our children need truly compassionate healthcare providers!

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Meet Tyne Iverson, a young Navy spouse who received a $3000 WJB Capital Group/ThanksUSA Scholarship for her Nursing studies at ECPI College of Technology. Tyne’s husband, Brandon, has been in the U.S. Navy for about 2 ½ years and the couple have been married for 1 ½ years.  As these newlyweds adapt to military life, they face many challenges.  One of the greatest was finding the right school for Tyne to finish her education.

Tyne and Brandon Iverson

Originally from Wisconsin, Tyne had begun her education a few years ago. A change of duty station to Virginia forced Tyne to transfer to a different school. Unfortunately, the transfer resulted in the loss of 70 credits. At the time, it felt like she was starting over…two years of higher education seemed to have been erased. Tyne was determined to overcome the setback and enrolled in a specialized, accelerated program at ECPI College of Technology. Though the class load is intense, Tyne will be able to complete her degree before her husband’s next PCS.

For those who find themselves in similar situations, Tyne advises, “Don’t give up. Keep pushing towards your goal. Even though it may feel as though you will never get there, you need to keep trying because hard work really does pay off in the end.” Though the class load is heavy, Tyne will earn her A.D. in Nursing this August and looks forward to beginning her career as a Registered Nurse in a hospital environment.

Of course, only the most compassionate and caring individuals make great nurses and Tyne Iverson is no exception. When I asked her about her decision to study nursing, it brought tears to my eyes. She explained, “I knew I loved helping people, but it took me quite a while to figure out exactly which career would help me to accomplish that goal the most. The situation which actually helped me to pinpoint nursing was during the last week of my grandmother’s life. She had suffered from a massive stroke and was at the hospital for almost a week. While we were there, I watched the nurses take care of her and it opened my eyes. They treated her so wonderfully and respectfully and although we were going through a devastating time, they helped to make it that much better. I realized then that was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to help those who were going through the hard times. I wanted to be the one to make the hard times at least a little bit better. I wanted to be a nurse.”

Tyne Iverson

When she found the accelerated program at ECPI, Tyne had to figure out how to cover tuition costs. “My husband has not been in (the service) very long, so we are not making much money; plus, with it being an accelerated program, the school work load is too much for me to work and attend school. We had cut back on everything we could, but we still did not have enough to make ends meet. The ThanksUSA Scholarship made it possible for me to continue pursuing my career goal, which I can never truly express my gratitude for.”

As she continues her studies, Tyne is also becoming more familiar with military life. So far, she says that the time separated from Brandon has been the most challenging. She adds, “I have found ways to be able to handle my husband being away, but it is still not easy. The good thing about the separation, however, is that it has taught us to really appreciate one another. We never take each other for granted and we spend good, quality time when we do get to be together. The most rewarding aspect is the way most people truly appreciate what he is doing. It is such a great feeling to go somewhere and to have someone come up and thank him for doing what he does. Even though they are thanking him, it still is very rewarding for me to see him be appreciated by others.”

Tyne also has a special message for her family: “I want to thank my husband and all of my other family members (especially my mom and dad) for being so supportive. Pursuing my career goal has not always been easy and all of you have helped me to have the confidence and the drive I have needed to make it through all of the challenges I have met so far. Thank you. I really could not have done it without you.”

Thank you, Tyne, for representing ThanksUSA Scholarship recipients and military spouses. You have just begun your journey, but as long as you keep your positive attitude and compassion for others, I know you’ll make a wonderful nurse and be an inspiration to many!

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