Linda Lael Miller Chooses 15 Women to Help Rewrite Their Life Story
Spokane, WA – Fifteen women, trying to overcome challenges to completing their education, will receive help with educational funding thanks to New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller.
Once a struggling mom herself, the author of more than 100 novels has selected the winners of her 2010 Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women—stipends designated for those 25 and older who typically don’t qualify for traditional scholarships.
“Reading the essays, I was so amazed by the fortitude, commitment and selflessness these women displayed,” said Miller, from her home in Spokane, Wash. “I have also been so humbled by the graciousness and authentic appreciation even those not selected have expressed.”
In its 10th year, the Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women received more than 700 applications. Each applicant wrote an essay discussing the challenges to meeting her educational goals. A team, including Miller, judged each essay on readability, demonstration of commitment to the applicant’s education and career, and the possible impact of the scholarship on the life of the recipient, her family and her community.
“I feel so privileged to be able to do something to help women meet their educational and life goals,” said Miller, who funds the scholarship program from her speaking engagements and book-related income.
A regular on the national bestseller lists, Miller knows about crafting an amazing story. She also knows about rewriting her personal life story. Once upon a time, Miller struggled as a young, single mother with limited financial resources.
With perseverance and the support of family, Miller edited her life story to become one of dreams fulfilled. Ten years ago, Miller decided to offer other women the opportunity to rewrite their own story and has offered the scholarship program each year since.
“There are so many women out there who just need a little boost to set them on the way to a better life for themselves and their children,” said Miller. “I know I can’t help them all, but I can help some. I can show them that someone cares.”
Winners may use the scholarship award for tuition and books, but also for child care, transportation and other expenses not covered by traditional scholarships. Miller’s intention for the scholarship program is to help women leap the barriers keeping them from building a better life for themselves and their families.
“I hope that each scholarship has a long-lasting impact on the recipients’ families by demonstrating to their children and their children’s children that a woman can overcome adversity and succeed through education,” said Miller.
The 2010 winners of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women are:
Andrea Winterburn, Nevada
To an 18-year-old bored with life, the glamour and easy money of working in Nevada’s casinos can be irresistible. The shimmer quickly dulled for Andrea Winterburn when the lifestyle degraded to alcohol addiction.
“By the time I reached 24, I was exhausted,” said Winterburn. “I sought treatment for my problem and found a fellowship of people who understand.”
Motivated to a better life, she began working toward a degree in health care. Marriage and motherhood changed her focus.
“In those six years of marriage, I sacrificed all but my sobriety,” said Winterburn. “I left the abusive relationship broke and still uneducated. I had no idea how I would succeed with a small child and little support. I knew I had to return to school if I ever wanted more than the gambling halls. Moreover, I realized it was my responsibility to make a better life for myself.”
Nervous and fearful, Winterburn took a math class at her local community college. Three years later, she’s completed the prerequisites for nursing school. She and her daughter encourage each other daily.
“Balancing motherhood, school, and sobriety has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced,” said the 40-year-old. “There were many times I wanted to give up and quit. Thankfully, I knew deep down inside that I had to keep going.”
Winterburn will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition at Truckee Meadows Community College.
She would like to work at the veteran’s hospital after she graduates.
“The hardships, some real and some self-imposed, have taught me to be more understanding and compassionate. My life experiences have helped me grow spiritually and make peace with the past.”
Wendy Wiebe, Canada
Four years ago, Wendy Wiebe and her husband of 37 years bought a farm and offered therapeutic horseback riding to children with disabilities, an endeavor that combined Wiebe’s passions for nature, horses and working with children. Inspired, Wiebe wrote a business plan to develop the property into a therapeutic riding and respite center.
“Last fall I ended up in the hospital for two months, at which point my husband told me he no longer wanted me around,” said Wiebe, a mother and grandmother. “The horror of my husband dumping me, leaving me homeless, with no income, no vehicle and the loss of my long dreamed of farm and horses has been really difficult.”
When Wiebe sat down to determine her future, she realized that with her banking and small-business experience and a degree in business administration, she could fulfill her dream of opening the therapeutic center.
“I may have lost my farm, and my riding centre, but I look ahead to better days due to this diploma,” said Wiebe. “I have been working really hard to take the high road and put the bitterness away. I intend to use some of the courses to begin to plan another centre. Having the skills and knowledge of the college instructors behind me will help me fine-tune a business plan.”
Wiebe will use the $1,000 scholarship for books. She attends Red Deer College.
“I really only want to make life brighter for families by helping them become more comfortable with the healing power of animals and nature.”