Veterans Advantage is proud to announce three winners of its scholarship program for the 2010-2011 academic year, and to recognize and reward the unique form of academic excellence that comes from military service.
“When you think of the millions of families represented by the 25 million-plus Veterans, Active Duty Military, National Guard & Reservists, you appreciate their powerful impact on our society,” said H. Scott Higgins, founder and CEO of Veterans Advantage, and a Vietnam Veteran. “The Veterans Advantage Scholarship program helps ensure their influence remains part of our nation’s DNA.”
Leading the list of award winners is Alex Kellum, a student at Clemson University, and whose US Marine father – Russell Barber – was a Silver Star recipient serving in Vietnam, and later served in Operation Desert Storm.. Alex is studying to become an anesthesiologist because of his deep desire to help others with their own personal pains, and as a tribute to the pain his father saw while serving.
“While serving the United States my dad has seen things that have forever marked him,” he tells Veterans Advantage in his scholarship application essay. “I hate to see people in pain and wish to make a career out of removing pain.”
Julia Folsom will be entering the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida this fall. She also has been greatly influenced by her father.
“Not only has he taught me foundational skills, such as how to study for a test, but he has also taken on the responsibility of raising me to be a young woman with integrity and commitment, to both people and obligations, which is something that you cannot always be taught in school,” she says in her applicant essay, recognizing Veterans Advantage member Al Folsom, of the US Coast Guard.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have had the fondest memories of visiting my dad at work and having such an interest in what he did to help change the lives of others for the better,” she adds.
The children of military families experience a lot of change. Folsom, for instance, attended six different schools before graduating from High School this past spring!
After serving in the Marine Corps, our third scholarship winner, Veterans Advantage member Michael Joseph Espinoza is now studying at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, Institute for the Study of the Americas. A Ph.D. Candidate, attributes his mental focus and academic success to the training he received as a Marine.
“I will never forget, while at boot camp in Parris Island, being told ‘The most important weapon a Marine has is their mind.’” At first, I had no idea what that meant,” he says in his essay, “I thought the most important weapon a Marine possessed was their body. But I was reminded that a Marine needs a strong mind in order to remain focused and to accomplish the task at hand.”
Kellum agrees, who also points to this ethic which helped him compete outside of the classroom, running track and cross-country. “Granted it is a lot easier to fight yourself to become the best you can be than it is to fight the Vietcong, but the fighting spirit taught by my father’s service history has made me a better student.”
Veterans Advantage has been sponsoring special scholarships for its members, and through charitable partnerships, since 2006.