#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Tina Payne-Brissette, Massachusetts

In high school, Tina Payne-Brissette had her life figured out. She’d be a travel writer first, and then she’d write the Great American Novel. Life had another story for her.

“An early marriage, a military move, lack of a college fund, a dying parent, and my own neuromuscular disorder from a devastating car accident put my dreams on hold,” said Payne-Brissette.

She recalls sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor in 1995 trying to tie her 3-year-old’s shoelaces. A mysterious malady caused her fingers to ache with every movement, and her arms and legs felt useless.

“I coped with this while tending to my son’s chronic respiratory illness and his brother’s communication disorder,” said Payne-Brissette. “It took time, but by never giving up, I finally found the proper diagnosis (fibromyalgia from the accident) and coping strategy.”

As the pain in her hands lessened, Payne-Brissette returned to writing. She landed a part-time marketing position and volunteered her public relations skills with local non-profits. She began publishing articles in regional magazines.

“Now that my children are young adults,” she said, “I have returned to college. By finishing my degree in business communications, I will finally be able to attain the professional credentials needed to contribute my writing skills in the corporate world. Additionally, I will become a role model for my sons, demonstrating that determination can overcome defeat.”

Payne-Brissette also dreams someday of having her own online media company that helps small businesses, solopreneurs and non-profits. She will use her $1,000 scholarship for school supplies.

“By receiving this award and finishing my degree, I will be able to change my story from one of being hindered by tragedy to one of triumphant living.”

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