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Posts Tagged ‘ThanksUSA Alumni and Friends’

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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IMG_0848Congratulations to ThanksUSA alumni Shandiin Sam on her December graduation! Since 2010, Shandiin was awarded ThanksUSA scholarships totaling $9,000. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University.

Shandiin had an exciting senior year at ASU, studying abroad in France and volunteering with the student-led health and development organization, Global Brigades.

As a member of ASU’s Medical & Dental Brigade, Shandiin travelled to Honduras where she assisted with patient triage, dispensing vitamins, and teaching children how to brush their teeth.

Shandiin reports that although the dental team spent about six hours each day treating patients, they just didn’t have enough time to see everyone. “As we would start to pack everything and have to cut-off triage, the dentist would try to get two or three more patients in before packing up.”

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Because of diet and lack of basic dental hygiene supplies like toothbrushes and toothpaste, the majority of patients were seen for tooth decay. In the United States, dentists typically attempt to save a tooth with a filling or cap. Shandiin explained that the majority of patients seen by Global Brigades volunteers preferred extraction and dentures because long-term care would be less costly and easier to maintain.

Shandiin admits that her time in Honduras was exhausting, but well worth the effort. Although she admits, “I could never be a dentist after shadowing him (the volunteer Global Brigades dentist). The human mouth seems more gruesome to me than a broken bone or surgery, but it was still a rewarding experience!”

With plans to attend medical school and travel the globe helping others, Shandiin will likely have a lifetime of rewarding experiences. She is currently seeking employment as a medical technologist while she prepares for the MCAT.

We love to hear from ThanksUSA Alumni and share updates like this! Current and past ThanksUSA scholarship recipients are encouraged to join the ThanksUSA Alumni and Friends Facebook page to connect with fellow scholars and the ThanksUSA team.

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