Disclaimer: To protect the identity of scholarship recipients and in respect to all parties involved, we have changed names, photos, and specific identifying information in any posted stories.
My Story - Ellie
In the month of January 2010, Ellie found out that her sweet husband at the age of 34 was in liver failure; he had never drank an ounce of alcohol in his life. She took her four little children to school (all under the age of 11) and then took her husband to the U of U hospital. Little did she know that her husband would never return home. Her family went through so many ups and downs. While waiting for a liver to be donated, they went through many specialists, tests, x-rays, and medications. They were back and forth from the ICU to the SICU and it felt like Ellie was continually being pulled in all directions trying to care for her husband and children.
Ellie had great hope that things would all work out. The amazing social workers worked so hard on the family’s case. They would come in the room and check on them often, trying to give them any kind of comfort. She knew things were going bad when the sweet social worker asked if they could lay 4 quilts on her husband - one for each of her children. The next morning her husband lost his battle with liver cancer.
After the death of her husband, Ellie knew right away that she needed to go back to school to better provide for her family. Without hesitation, she knew that she wanted to be a social worker. She wanted to be there for someone, just like the social workers were there for her. Social work is who she is and what she desires to do. Over time, her family became very strong but it was definitely an uphill battle. They worked really hard as a family through therapy and staying close as a family; she feels like a survivor! She has worked very hard trying to support her children financially and emotionally. When her husband passed away, she did not receive any life insurance. Consequently, going to school was a financial burden on her family.
Going back to school helped not only herself, but her children. Ellie's children were able to see how important it was to obtain an education. She graduated from UVU with a Bachelors in Social Work and then applied to the University of Utah Social Work Masters program. She was excepted into the U of U Advanced Standing Social Work program. Within five years, she was able to earn her undergraduate and masters diploma. She is grateful for the help and support she received along the way.
After Ellie's husband passed away, she knew she needed to provide and care for her children, despite the pain and grief she was experiencing. We are so proud of Ellie for gaining her education and being an example to her children through such a difficult journey.
My Story - Amy
Amy found out that her husband had a severe pornography and sex addiction. She was able to see his two-year computer history, which consisted of hardcore pornography and escort services to the various cities he was traveling to for business.
In the beginning, she chose to stay with him and try to help him overcome this stronghold of addiction. He struggled getting help and really had no desire to change. After two long years, she knew she needed to get out of this dysfunctional marriage.
At the time her crisis hit, she had children whose lives changed in an instant. They all previously enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle with little worries. Once her ex was caught, he quit working. After filing for divorce, her husband became abusive and was arrested twice.
After such heartbreak, she chose to go back to school and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. This was a difficult choice, she had to make many sacrifices to fulfill this dream. She sold many things to be able to continue supporting herself through school including her dining room table and chairs, patio furniture, lawn mower, front room couch and loveseat and many other items to help keep her afloat.
After being arrested, her ex-husband was no longer able to come into her home and did not pay alimony or child support for almost two years. She only had a high school diploma and had been a stay-at-home mother for most of her marriage. She had virtually no way of providing basic needs for her children.
Each semester that Amy completed was so rewarding and exciting to see how far she had come. After each semester, she would walk to her car after taking her last test and just sit and cry. She would cry for various reasons. She cried because she had gained strength; strength that she didn’t even know that she had. She would cry because she was that much closer to her goal of becoming a nurse and she would cry because she knew she could do HARD things!
As crazy as this may sound, she is thankful for her challenges. She believes having these experiences has softened her and helped motivate her in to the person she is today. Throughout the many obstacles she faced, she maintained a 3.6 GPA and graduated with honors with her RN and bachelors in nursing. She attributes much of her success to the scholarships that she received, giving her support and financial comfort she needed.
We are so proud of Amy for her determination and hard work in gaining her education. She is an example to everyone through her actions, you can do hard things!
My Story – Marcia
Marcia, moved from Peru at the age of 14. Upon arriving she was enrolled as an eighth grade student but didn’t know any english. She had to work hard to learn how to speak and communicate her feelings through a foreign language. However, she feels blessed to be living the American Dream, knowing that through hard work, dreams can come true. She is now 25 years old and a mother of a beautiful 7 year old daughter.
Marcia graduated from high school with a high GPA and while pregnant with her daughter. Post high school she knew life would be difficult due to her situation but decided to stay focused on the positive side of things. She knows that she has a beautiful daughter that pushes her and inspires her to accomplish hard things.
Through hard work, Marcia graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Health Administrative Services. Through her hard work, she achieved several awards, namely; Dr. William E. Smith, Award of Excellence for Excellence in scholarship, Departmental Honors Certificate, and more.
Currently, Marcia is working on obtaining her Master’s degree in Health Administration. Five years from now she wants to be independent, providing a home for her and her daughter. She is an example for her daughter and single mothers everywhere, that they can do anything.
We are so grateful for Marcia and her example she is to her daughter and single mothers. We commend her for her positive energy and optimistic outlook on life.
My Story – Brenda
Brenda, was born into a home under poor circumstances. A brief overview of her past will give you an understanding about her challenges. She has personally been touched by alcoholic family members, abuse, lost her father at a young age, date raped (which resulted in teenage motherhood), the tragic loss of family members in a horrific accident, addiction and an abusive marriage. Brenda says, “The irony of these challenges have become my greatest gift, without which I would not have had desperation or willingness to seek for something better.”
Brenda seeks support through meetings and sponsorship; focuses on physical well-being with daily exercise, proper nutrition, and getting sufficient rest. Brenda is a new person with strengths and talents that were hidden; her heart is full of gratitude and she is willing to work hard to better her life and the lives of her children. Brenda is 3 years sober and is excited for her future. This Fall she will begin the dual enrollment program of the Bachelor of Social Work and Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counselor.
Following her graduation she plans to pursue a Masters of Social Work. Her ultimate goal is to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Courageously, Brenda has lofty career goals to open a drug treatment counseling center for women and their children.
We are so grateful for Brenda and all her hard work and dedication. We commend her and her ability to accomplish hard things.
My Story – Lea
Lea is an amazing woman that is following her dreams to provide for both her, and her son. Despite the heartache of her husbands death, she continues to be strong for her little family, taking it one minute at a time. She looks forward to the future that one day she will be self reliant.
Here is her story…
I met Cade when we were both sophomores in high school. It wasn’t love at first sight because I didn’t know what that kind of love meant at fifteen years old, but I definitely knew that this ‘crush’ was different than others I’d had in the past. We began dating a few months after we turned sixteen and dated all through high school. One year after we graduated, Cade relocated to Peru to serve a two year mission for our church. I ‘waited’ for him and never dated another guy—I knew he was the one and didn’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s. On May 22, 2008, one week after my twenty second birthday, and one day after Cade’s twenty second birthday we were married in the Salt Lake City, LDS Temple. Even though it was a cold, rainy, soggy day, it was the happiest day of my life and one that I will cherish forever and never forget.
Cade and I had a couple of fun, blissful years together before we moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in July 2010 so Cade could attend Law School. He had a huge desire to be successful and provide for our family so I could be a stay at home mom. About five months after we moved Cade started having debilitating headaches. I would often wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of him vomiting because the pain was so intense, or find him in the darkest corner of our apartment with pillows surrounding his head so no light could seep through. After much convincing, I was finally able to get him to the doctor. We went through 2 weeks of CT’s, MRI’s, Optometrist visits, ER visits, Neurologist appointments, talks with a Neurosurgeon and a visit to the Radiologist when Cade was heartbreakingly diagnosed with a malignant Brain tumor (January 2011). Thankfully they misdiagnosed him in Lincoln. They wanted us to go to Omaha immediately for surgery—a surgery we later found out would have killed him. We got on a plane that day and flew back to Utah to be with our families and get surgery and treatment at the University of Utah Hospital and Huntsman Cancer Institute. After his first brain surgery in Utah we were told that it was a slow growing tumor that would need some sort of treatment about every 7 years. We were told that Cade had at least 40 or 50 more years ahead of him and to go home and live our lives.
Cade got a job as a Medical Device Sales Representative and I got a job as a dental assistant. Cade required one more brain surgery to adjust his already existing shunt and add a second one, but other than that, he was doing well. At that point, I felt a strong desire to start a family. Everyone, including Cade, thought I was crazy, but I knew it was the right thing to do. On December 3, 2011, our little boy Luke was born and we were both immediately in love. Cade had always wanted a boy. He was SO excited for his little buddy to hang out with and take hunting. During this time, Cade had done a session of radiation treatment, a few sessions of chemo pills, and when his tumor unexpectedly started to grow, infusion chemo.
About 6 months after Luke’s birth, Cade started to act different. He was being very forgetful and just not acting like himself. After yet another MRI, it was revealed that the tumor had taken a turn for the worse and was growing rapidly. Cade’s Oncologist told us there was nothing we could do and sent us home. Cade got on hospice later that week and rapidly declined. On the morning of August 26, 2012 when our baby boy was just 8 months old, Cade passed away in my arms.
To say that I miss him and that these past 20 months have been difficult is a major understatement. There just aren’t adequate enough words to describe how my life has changed. Luke and I moved in with my parents and I am now attending Utah State University at the Brigham City campus. I’m hoping to be a Dental Hygienist (which will require me to attend the program at Weber State University once I finish my pre-requisites at Utah State).
After Cade and I graduated from high school, I went to Utah State for one year, but quit to become a dental assistant. I’ve worked in a few different General Dentist offices, a Pediatric Dental office and an Oral and Maxillofacial office. The dental field is one that I feel very comfortable in and very passionate about. Being a Hygienist would not only be a good fit for myself and my son schedule wise, but it would provide a good life for the two of us while allowing me to do something that I love.
I’m hoping that in five years I will be graduated from the Dental Hygiene program and independent and financially stable enough to buy a home for Luke and myself. Cade and I loved to watch HGTV and dream of the home we would one day build together; I still want to make that a reality for me and Luke. As I said earlier, Cade had a huge desire to work hard and provide a good stable life for his family so I could be a stay at home mom. Well, obviously life happened, and since Cade is not longer here to do that for us, it is up to me to provide that life that he so badly wanted us to have. To say that our new life is abnormal is another understatement. Luke will never know his daddy and he is spending his childhood living without his dad at his grandparents home with his mom. While I am beyond thankful for my parents taking us in, I am craving my own space and my independence. I want to provide Luke with all the things and opportunities that all the other kids who have both parents here on earth get to experience. He is my drive and my motivation to succeed. When days get hard and I become overwhelmed with life and school, I remember why I started—because of him. He deserves a better life than the one he has been dealt and I want to do everything in my power to be successful and provide him with all the normalcy and happiness I can.