Posts Tagged ‘Senator Ted Stevens’

Over the past three years, Navy Reserve dependent Hayley Brands has received a total of $9,000 in ThanksUSA Scholarships, including this past year’s $3,000 Oshkosh Defense/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship. As she prepares for graduation and a career as a teacher, Hayley takes some time to share her educational journey and future plans with ThanksUSA supporters.

Hayley during a study-abroad in Spain

Just two weeks from now, Hayley will earn her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish. Always a dedicated student, she has earned teaching endorsements in basic mathematics and middle school science, will graduate Summa Cum Laude, and is receiving the University Scholar Award for UP’s School of Education for earning a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Hayley’s academic success has at UP has already led to her first teaching position through the Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education, or PACE. Over the next few years, Hayley will be earning her Master’s of Education degree while teaching middle school math and science at Sacred Heart Elementary in California. Hayley is especially excited about the opportunities offered through the PACE program and explains, “A unique facet of the program is that PACE teachers live in community with several other teachers in a PACE house in the community where they are teaching which serves as a strong support system for new teachers.”

When asked about her desire to teach, Hayley responds,  “A combination of experiences, relationships, and beliefs drew me to teaching. I was blessed to have several sensational teachers as a student who inspired me to be a life-long learner. Like most students, I also had teachers whose heart wasn’t in their work for some reason. I aspire to be the teacher who is a role model who inspires her students to become life-long learners. I also hope to inspire female students to pursue STEM careers because societal gender-roles often tell them the contrary. All five of my younger siblings have a form of high-functioning autism which has posed some unique challenges in their education. As someone who has siblings with special needs, I have empathy for students who might learn a little bit differently than the “average” student and feel confident I can adapt instruction to help all students succeed in my classroom no matter what their individual background is. Finally, I am drawn to teaching because it is a vocation in which I can make a difference every day I enter my classroom. Furthermore, I am excited to learn something new as I teach every day because teaching is an art that no one can ever perfect. The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids and constantly learn new things is exciting!”

Hayley with her brothers and sister

As a new teacher, Hayley will bring some fresh ideas and teaching methods to her students. For instance, during her fifth grade student teaching placement, she was able to incorporate her Spanish minor into the curriculum. She explains, “I recently taught a lesson on word histories, specifically tracing English words back to Latin roots using dictionaries. Since Spanish is more closely tied to Latin than English, I asked bilingual students to explain what the Latin roots meant in Spanish which was a cool way for them to share their language with the class. I have also connected similar grammar structures in English to Spanish grammar structures when teaching grammar skills to clarify concepts for students whose primary home language is Spanish. I’ve also incorporated it in ways as simple as being able to accurately pronounce words in stories in the reading curriculum from Hispanic cultures. In the future, I hope to eventually work in a dual-immersion or bilingual school to utilize my Spanish more readily in classroom instruction.”

During her time at the University of Portland, Hayley was very involved with campus activities and organizations. She has served as an officer in the Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society, was a Residence Assistant, and mentored through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters, just to name a few. One of the activities Hayley speaks most fondly about is the annual Reading Fair saying, “Over 350 families attended this event, enjoyed literacy-based activities, an obstacle course, a puppet show, and all children left with a free, new book!”

Growing up in a large military family helped Hayley develop the patience, compassion, and the self-discipline necessary for academic success. “I learned quickly how to be fairly self-sufficient and to take care of my responsibilities at home especially when dad was away on Navy duty for an extended period of time. When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad was deployed to the Pentagon for the whole year which was a major growing experience for me because I had to step up and take on my responsibility to helping mom make sure things were running smoothly at home while balancing my academics, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job. It wasn’t the easiest transition, but I grew up a lot during that year. These experiences facilitated my transition into college. I easily transitioned to living in a new place, developing a new routine, and taking on new adult responsibilities. I am grateful I was well-prepared for this transition from my experiences as a military child and how my parents purposefully taught me to be self-sufficient. During my junior year, I was a Resident Assistant and worked with many younger students who struggled with this transition because they were learning lessons about self-sufficiency and balancing one’s responsibilities for the first time as freshmen. In advising and supporting them, I am grateful for the values my military family instilled in me,” says Hayley.

ThanksUSA is honored to have been a part of Hayley’s educational journey. She explains just how important it was to have the financial support of ThanksUSA, especially during her senior year. “My full-time student teaching placement prevented me from being able to continue working my work-study job. Student teaching comprises more hours than a full-time job between planning, commuting, teaching time, and still taking university courses. Since ThanksUSA helped me to pay for my tuition and other school expenses, I was able to save earnings from the summer to pay for gas, utilities, rent, and other costs that continue to arise during this time when I am not able to earn an income so I am not worried about making ends meet. This lack of worry allows me to dedicate my time and energy to being the best teacher I can be for my students each day,” she says.

If you are a college-bound military dependent or spouse, we encourage you to apply for a ThanksUSA Scholarship today. Applications are being accepted now through May 15th at www.ThanksUSA.org. There are some changes to the scholarship program this year, including scholarships for military spouses attending school part-time. For complete details, please make sure to visit the 2012 Overview page.

We close this week’s Scholarship News with a few words of gratitude from Hayley:

“The ThanksUSA program and generous donors have truly made a difference in my education that has prepared me to serve our nation as a teacher. Thanks again☺”

Read Full Post »

This past Wednesday, friends and supporters of ThanksUSA gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the legacy of the late Senator Ted Stevens while raising funds to support the second year of Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships to be awarded through ThanksUSA.

The Honorable Ted Stevens was the U.S. Senator from Alaska and was the longest-serving Republican in the United States Senate. He served continuously from 1968 to 2009. Senator Stevens enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and served in the China-Burma-India Theater with the Fourteenth Air Force Transport Section and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1964, and became House majority leader in his second term. In 1968, he was appointed U.S. Senator to Alaska after the death of Senator Bob Bartlett. He held many leadership roles in the Senate, including Assistant Republican Leader (Whip) from 1977 to 1985, and Senate President Pro Tempore in 2003, and chaired many committees in his senatorial career, including Appropriations and Commerce.

Staffer for Congressman Young, Catherine Stevens, Sid Ashworth of Northrup Grumman, Maj Gen Pete Proctor, USA (Ret)

We extend our warmest appreciation to Mrs. Catherine Stevens, widow of the late senator, for joining active and retired military personnel, members of Congress, and ThanksUSA team members for this special fundraising event.

ThanksUSA Scholarship recipient, Jennifer Benecke, attended with her husband, Chief Petty Officer George Benecke, U.S. Navy, and thanked those in attendance for their continued support of ThanksUSA. In a few months, Jennifer will graduate from the University of Maryland: University College with a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently making plans to attend graduate and, eventually, hopes to work as a counselor to military veterans.

Jennifer and George Benecke with ThanksUSA's Michele Stork

Thanks to the generosity of ThanksUSA sponsors such as EADS and Lockheed Martin, ThanksUSA will once again honor the memory of Senator Stevens by awarding 40 Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships, valued at $3,000 each, to the children and spouses of U.S. military personnel pursuing post-secondary school education.

Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year are sponsored by EADS, Lockheed Martin, Rumsfeld Foundation, Altria, Northrup Grumman, TimeWarner, Express Scripts, General Dynamics, GE, Association of the United States Army, and Boeing.

Please visit the ThanksUSA Facebook page to view additional photos from the luncheon.

Read Full Post »

As the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree, Melissa Spear has set high academic standards for herself. She plans to earn her BS in Biology from the University of Texas El Paso and then continue her education with graduate and doctorate studies. Melissa received a $3000 EADS/Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarship through ThanksUSA for the 2011/2012 academic year and is eager to share her experiences and academic goals with ThanksUSA supporters.

The daughter of SFC William Spear, US Army (RET), Melissa’s military childhood helped to shape her into the confident, diligent young woman that she is today.

“My father was in the Army for 20 years before he retired. Because of his career, I’ve had the chance to live in Germany, New York, Georgia, and Texas. I was able to see many different parts of the world. At the age of 20, I can definitely say that I’ve been to many more places than my peers have been to. Life as a military child has taught me to be fortunate of my experiences. I may not have been the child who was able to grow up in her hometown, but I can definitely say that I’ve been able to experience different cultures from all over. I may not have been the girl who’s had the same friends since kindergarten, but I have met people from all over. I’ve been able to see what this country offers and it motivates me to make a difference. I’m very proud of being a military child and being able to say that my father spent a part of his life serving this country,” says Melissa.

Since she is most interested in medical research, Melissa spent her summer working in the lab of Patrick Phillips at the University of Oregon. “My project is focused on understanding how organisms react to a stressful environment. We know that stress tends to have a negative impact, but we’re interested in finding how it affects lifespan and how it affects genetics. In the future, this research could possibly help in delaying the onset of age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. We’re not necessarily trying to find ways for people to live longer, but rather trying to find ways where they could live a much healthier life. Why live to be 90 years old when the last 15 years of life is spent having to fight Alzheimer’s? This project is important, because we’re hoping that we’ll be able to find that genes that control stress resistance and lifespan. I’ve been working with worms that have been living in a standard lab environment but are then selected for acute stress. I’ve been extracting RNA from these worms and having them sent off to be sequenced so we can look at their genetic lines.”

This invaluable experience has bolstered Melissa’s own research goals. She explains, “I’m most interested in understanding how cancer runs through continuous generations in a certain family. Why is one family always more at risk for a specific type of cancer? If your mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, why does that make her daughter more at risk for contracting it too? My ultimate goal is to be able to teach at a university and run my own lab.”

Though academic success is a priority for Melissa, she is also dedicated to the UTEP University Honors Council. Made up of UTEP honor students, the University Honors Council devotes many hours to the Reynolds House, a shelter for women and children. “We try to provide as much as we can for the kids by hosting fun events for them as well as providing many goods for their needs.” When she’s not studying or volunteering with the University Honors Council, the well-rounded Melissa enjoys baking and dancing.

The ThanksUSA team wishes everyone a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. While you’re relaxing with friends and family, take a moment to reflect on the thousands of military families who have loved ones serving here at home and abroad. We leave this week’s feature with a special message from Melissa about receiving the EADS/Senator Ted Stevens/ThanksUSA Scholarship:

“Receiving the ThanksUSA Scholarship has motivated me to work harder for my goals. I’m striving to graduate from school debt free and every little bit of money helps. I want to become a scientific researcher, but that path comes with a price. I’ve seen people give up their dreams, because of the time and money it takes and I do not want to be one of them. I’m very grateful for every bit of help I get because it brings me one step closer to my goal.”

Read Full Post »