Despite living in a social media crazed world, when I have news to share my first thought is not to post it on Facebook. First I tell my husband. Then I make some phone calls to my parents and sisters. Texts and emails go out to close friends. But still another step before a post. The next few names on my list belong to extraordinary people I have not only had the pleasure but the honor of knowing these past nine years. These people are responsible for funding my undergraduate education but they have gone above and beyond someone just handing me a scholarship. They’re a part of my family.
As a senior in high school the acceptance letters rolled in and I soon realized school was expensive. My parents would have done everything in their power to make it feasible but I refused to let them shoulder the financial burden. I applied for what seemed a million scholarships. I raided the scholarship drawer in the counselor’s office weekly. I wrote essays, requested transcripts and asked for letters of recommendation. I never imagined how much all that work would pay off.
One evening, a woman called to tell me I had received a scholarship from her organization. I struggled to remember which essay this was. In the next few weeks I learned another student at my school had also received the scholarship. Honestly, I was convinced I was splitting the scholarship with her probably until my fee bill came back $0. Who gives someone enough money to almost go to school for free? They never met me. They just read an essay and looked at an application. Surely this was a joke. But the joke was on me … they did give me that money. And then they gave me more!
I received several scholarships my freshman year. All those little amounts from local organizations added up. Everything was paid for. My parents nor I spent a single dime for school that year. Every semester I would receive emails asking about my grades and classes. Funny thing is that all these emails came from Corvias and they wanted to know everything about college. I was extremely grateful to have received all those other scholarships but I now knew that the Corvias Foundation Scholarship would be different!
Despite having school paid for, I chose to take on a part time job. Then I had a brilliant idea. I was going to study abroad for a summer semester. I was majoring in science but it didn’t stop me from wanting to travel. I loved it so much that I minored in International Studies and later did a second stint abroad. Right there cheering me on beside my parents was Corvias!
My sophomore year I was asked to be the guest speaker for a Corvias fundraising event. I emphatically said yes! Who says no to someone that invests so much into your future? It would seem like I was doing them a favor but honestly I think I won out. Since that nerve wracking speech in front of 180 potential donators, I’ve never had a problem with presentations. I still get nervous but in front of peers and colleagues it seems so much easier. These are only a handful of examples of what opportunities Corvias brought into my life to make me the person I am today.
After graduation the emails and calls from Corvias haven’t stopped. I send them regular updates because they are family. We motivate each other to do better. One of our biggest accomplishments is the future of our alumni group who get together and work on how to change the world. It sounds like a tall order but bringing together all of our talents we are able to take our individual small gestures and turn them into grand ideas! We’re all able to do this and succeed because one organization made an investment into our futures. I’m truly grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization. The words thank you will never be enough to express my gratitude.
About the Author: Brandi R.W. was a recipient of the 2007 Corvias Foundation scholarship for children of active-duty service members. At the time she received her award, her father was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana and deployed to Iraq. Upon completing a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University, she went on to complete a Master in Science in Biology-Medical Sciences from Mississippi College, and is now pursing the Physician Assistant Program at Our Lady of the Lake College. Brandi continues to stay involved as an alum, volunteering her time to mentor younger scholars and coordinating alumni initiatives.