1.3.1 Scholar Stories

Scholar stories

More than 1,000 women across the country have received hope, strength and financial assistance in the form of Jeannette Rankin Foundation Scholar Grants. We thank these JRF Scholars for sharing their stories of resilience as they transform their futures through education.

Meet Yinghong

When Yinghong’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, the single mom took a leave of absence from nursing school to care for him. She says, “If my career goal is to help others, I should help my son first since he needs me desperately.” Three years later, Yinghong’s son is thriving, and she credits this to her early intervention.

Yinghong never abandoned her dream of working in healthcare and decided it was time to return to school. Yinghong loves the profession and has realized that as a physical therapist assistant she must “empower [herself] to help other people.” In addition, she works as an advocate for the elderly and as an interpreter for Asian patients who aren’t fluent in English.

Meet Ify

Ify is a social work major at Hardin-Simmons University. After graduating, she would like to open up her own preschool and eventually return to school to get her master’s degree. When Ify decided to go back to school, she found it challenging to find an affordable childcare option and is passionate about creating such an option for other families.

She says, “JRF is investing in me now, and there will be a time when I will begin to invest in someone else, just as someone has invested in my education. I would like to be a blessing to my community. I have seen the value of helping people, so I will do the same after my graduation.”

Meet Madelyn

Madelyn is enrolled at the University of Hawaii and is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Sociology. She has maintained a strong 3.86 GPA and is looking forward to graduating. Madelyn is a remarkable scholar who has managed to work and attend school full-time all while being a leader in her family. Despite having to endure a 60-mile round-trip commute to school in her 2001 Hyundai, Madelyn’s strength has allowed her to keep pushing forward to receive her education. She hopes to continue her education and attend graduate school. She plans on specializing in trauma recovery and working with survivors of domestic violence in her career. Madelyn believes that her Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant has helped her not only financially, but socially and emotionally as well. Carrying on with her education has given her a boost of self-esteem and personal identity.

“To carry forth the torch of humanitarian ideals and to fight for justice and the rights for all humans to be treated with compassion and dignity have been my goals throughout this process. I remain true to those goals and am better equipped now to carry them out. Receiving my BA will open opportunities for me to implement these ideals with the public I will serve, and in a way that is also sustainable to me, a woman who also must support herself independently.”

Meet Bridget

Bridget is enrolled at Upper Iowa State University and is looking forward to receiving her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing this upcoming Spring. With a 3.75 GPA, Bridget understands the value of an education and has maintained an amazing level of excellence despite her difficult past. Before she received her LPN certification in 2007, Bridget and her children shuffled between homeless shelters as she struggled to study and become certified. Once she received her certification, her family’s life greatly improved. However, she knew that she did not want to stop there. Bridget went on to get her associate’s degree in nursing (RN) during the Spring of 2018. She has deep compassion for the patients she currently sees in her clinic. And, with her more advanced degree, she will continue to diversify the health force and continue to advocate for preventative health programming in her community.

“Right now the only hindrance in completing my goal is my finances. I support my family on a single income. Last year I didn’t have enough money to pay for my mental health and pediatric books, so I went without for the whole semester. I used whatever I could find on the internet and class notes. I was happy to pass these classes. Without the help of the JRF Scholar Grant [now], continuing my education would not be possible.”

Meet Maritza

Maritza is a renewal JRF Scholar who is enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and pursuing her Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish. She recently completed her associate’s degree and had the honor of graduating alongside her daughter. Maritza is hoping to use her degrees to become an NC Certified Court Interpreter. She wants to use her Spanish-speaking skills to support others in her community, especially within the legal system. Her education has already positively impacted her family, as she has been an incredible example to her daughters of what a college education can do. She and her older daughters are all enrolled at UNCG together and use each other as a support system. Her dedication to her family and her studies are clear when you look at her 4.0 GPA!

“Jeannette Rankin has enabled me to continue to work part-time while pursuing my degree full-time. There’s no way I would’ve been able to do that without Jeannette Rankin’s Scholar Grant.  I would have had to work full time and go to school part-time to avoid debt, and I know myself. If my options had been debt or go part-time & take forever to finish, I never would’ve gone back.”

Meet Dung

Dung is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Grand Canyon University pursuing a degree in Accounting. Once she receives this degree, she plans to find a job in an accounting firm. She and her family immigrated to the United States in 2015 and have since all enrolled in college. The support the Jeannette Rankin Foundation gives Dung allows her family to prioritize their higher education. After her Associate’s degree, Dung has plans to attend Arizona State University to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

“Thank you for your generous donations and support. I have promised myself that I will try my best to bring out the best result of every dollar you have invested in my education. I will also follow your giving-and-sharing examples to contribute to the positive changes in our society.”

Meet Jennifer

Jennifer is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Arkansas State University pursuing a Bachelors’s degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation with an Emphasis on Wildlife. Coming out of high school, she was a typical A+ student until she was diagnosed with Lupus and Fibromyalgia. The onset of her symptoms was so severe Jennifer was unable to complete her degree. She worked for her parents for a while and became both a foster and adoptive parent. She met her husband and the two of them fostered 5 siblings. Now with her symptoms managed and her children steady, she has time to pursue her degree, so she can professionally work in the forests and better serve her community and humanity through her positive environmental efforts.

“Last semester was particularly difficult for me personally, as my son and I were both, at different times, hospitalized. I live an hour and 45 minutes from my university and 45 minutes from the nearest hospital. This grant helped me to be able to afford my commute and the materials that I needed to be able to finish my courses. It is difficult to pursue a degree and take care of your family at the same time. The Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant has helped me to be successful in balancing both.”

Meet Tiffany

Tiffany is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Kennesaw State University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. After graduation, her goal is to return to teaching pre-Kindergarten, which is where she initially discovered her passion for teaching and education. Tiffany shares how she would love to take all the knowledge and skills she will accumulate throughout her time in college and apply it to her teaching in the future. She also plans to further her education by earning her Master’s degree in Elementary Education. Growing up, she experienced an extremely difficult childhood that involved suffering from neglect, hunger, homelessness and sexual abuse. Despite all the battles and challenges she has faced, Tiffany has persevered and decided to take control of her life by returning to school and fulfilling her personal goal she established for herself many years ago.

“The Jeanette Rankin Scholar Grant has helped me both pay for my education, as well as provide necessities for myself and my children. It has been a blessing in allowing me to purchase clothing for myself and my children, as well as pay for maintenance issues with my car. JRF has also helped me in feeling more inspired about accomplishing my educational goals. After attending the STAR Party and hearing the stories of several awesome women, I now feel more eager to accomplish my goals and more motivated to inspire other women to do the same. Thank you, JRF!”

Meet Amanda

Amanda is a renewal JRF Scholar currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Ohio State University. Her goal is to become a teacher. Amanda graduated high school early in order to pursue college but later dropped out in order to become a stay-at-home mom. Since then she has faced many trials and tribulations. Amanda’s first husband struggled with addiction and became abusive. She and her two daughters escaped and are now safe. Amanda’s oldest daughter has struggled with mental illness. Being a teacher will allow Amanda to not only better financially support her family, but the schedule of the job will allow her to better support her daughter. Amanda knows that being a teacher is what she was put on Earth to do, and she cannot wait to make an impact in her students’ lives.

When I debated going back to school, the biggest concern was our family’s income. I would not be able to hold down a full-time job and go to school. Adding in the amount of time that my daughter’s issues required of me, I had to choose between work or school. I took a leap of faith and trusted that we would be okay financially, even if I had to take on student loans. My Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant had a tremendous impact on my financial situation this past year, allowing me to focus more on my schooling and family and less on the balance of my accruing student loans.”

Meet Jana

Jana is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration pursuing a Bachelors in Cyber Security/Computer Science. Jana has been faced with incredible hardship throughout her adult life. Shortly after enrolling in college after graduating from high school, Jana’s mother took her own life. This traumatic time resulted in Jana dropping out of school, having children and entering the workforce without completing her education. She is a survivor of suicide and a survivor of domestic abuse. Jana truly has overcome the world to continue her education. She hopes to move up in her job at DTE Energy in the Engineering Department. Jana knows the value of her education and wants to continue on to get her Master’s in Computer Science once she has established her career.

“The Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant has helped me immensely. I am, and will forever be grateful for being a recipient. The Scholar Grant has enabled me to continue in school due to lack of funds. Now that I am getting closer to graduating my kids see that a degree is possible. My daughter has finished her undergraduate degree in business and is now working on her Master’s degree. We are very proud of each other. I am reaching down in my soul and finding my inner strength for this degree.”

Meet Amy

Amy is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Wilmington University pursuing her Bachelor’s in Game Design & Development and Web Design. Six years ago, Amy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis causing her to lose her job. At this time her son was facing challenges with social and emotional disabilities and her daughter was struggling with anxiety and an eating disorder. She realized she needed to do something in order to continue to support her family. She decided on game development as she would be able to eventually work from home in order to best accommodate her MS. She believes games are an exceptional tool in education and hopes to publish an animal game that teaches responsibility and genetics.

“A Bachelor’s degree will enable me to find good employment again. Not only that, but as I build educational games I want to form my own company. I hope to be able to hire other disabled people and provide jobs for them. I have come to know firsthand the struggle someone with a chronic illness or physical disability can have finding employment. I want to change that, and hopefully, I will build a legacy in which I can involve my children and my community.”

Meet Yu

Yu is a renewal JRF Scholar enrolled at Concordia University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Parent and Family Education and a minor in Education. Her future career goal is to become an expert in Early Childhood Education/Parent & Family Education. She would also love to accomplish a Ph.D. in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Education to Yu is very important because she desires to assist and help young children so that they may develop and grow happily and pursue big dreams. She wants to use the knowledge she gains in college to give back to her community and create a better life for herself and her mother, who she takes care of.

“The Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant helped me pay for my tuition, which is very important to me and my family! In order to achieve academic excellence and complete my education degree sooner, I need to spend more time studying. That limited my choice of working for income during schooling. Besides, my mother lives with me; she cannot work due to aging and the language barrier, and I am her primary caregiver. I really want to provide my mom a good life, and that is one of the reasons that I’m trying to accomplish my degree and start a new job as soon as possible. I am very grateful for the financial support from the Jeannette Rankin Scholar Grant!”