New York Times Bestselling Author Linda Lael Miller Awards Non-Traditional Scholarships for Women
Cave Creek, AZ — A 51-year-old battered wife, a 30-year-old single parent of a severely disabled son and a 40-year-old mother whose husband abandoned his family are three of the six women who have touched Linda Lael Miller’s heart this year.
The six, from California, to South Carolina, are recipients of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, funded personally by the New York Times bestselling Arizona author who never forgets what it’s like to struggle.
Annually, the author of more than 60 novels stages a $5000 scholarship competition unlike any she’s seen. Women, from 18 to 108, who desire to improve their lot in life through education, may apply by writing essays. The winners may use their scholarship monies not only for tuition and books, but for child care, transportation or any other education-related expense that will enable them to leap the barriers keeping them from building a better life.
“My philosophy is, ‘Educate a woman, impact endless future generations,'” Linda said, from the horse property outside Scottsdale where she writes novels published by Pocket and Atria Books. “Each of these scholarships will have a long-lasting effect on the recipient’s family and will help demonstrate to their children and their children’s children that a woman can overcome adversity and succeed, through education.”
Born in Northport, WA, Linda married straight out of high school and suffered adversity herself in a difficult marriage before she set out on her own and became an internationally bestselling author.
Whether she’s writing romantic fiction set in the Old West, or contemporary thrillers with kick-butt heroines, her characters are always women who succeed despite overwhelming odds.
Linda’s 2004 novels include DON’T LOOK NOW (Pocket Books, July mass market paperback) and NEVER LOOK BACK (Atria Books trade paperback). The thrillers are set in her beloved Arizona and feature a smart-mouthed attorney, who marshals all her resources to protect those she loves, and a sexy sidekick cop who must learn that, despite murder and mayhem, the lady can take care of herself.
This year’s recipients of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for women are:
Dawn Thurmond, 30, of El Paso, TX
She is a single Hispanic mother, struggling to provide for her severely disabled son and to complete her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at El Paso. As a student of political science and communications, this positive, motivated woman is also an advocate for people with disabilities and works in the community to improve their lives. On her own since age 19, she wants to earn her law degree and go on to educate politicians that everyone, despite their labels or hardships, can live full and happy lives.
Dawn says her five-year-old son, Zachary, who was born with cerebral palsy, is a hero. Having made strides that confound doctors, he inspires others by his refusal to give up or to give in to the idea that life has handed him a raw deal.
With an educational career that has spanned more than 13 years, Dawn was due to graduate in December of 2004 when she learned that she would no longer quality for student loans or financial aid, because she had reached the allowable attempted hours for students. Her Linda Lael Miller Scholarship for Women is helping her obtain that degree, the one thing Dawn knows will help her create a better life for her and her son.
Lisa Santiago-Weber, 40, of Fountain Valley, CA
She is a mother of two who is striving to build a new life for herself and her family after her husband returned to his native Guatemala – and abandoned them. Studying to become a graphics designer, she is using her scholarship to defray expenses for the extension courses she’s taking and for classes at California State Fullerton in the fall. She is dedicating her efforts to her older sister, Jodi Weber Whyte, who was a never-ending source of inspiration for Lisa and who lost her battle with cancer in 2003.
“In the future I’d like to do some work for non-profit organizations,” Lisa said when asked about her hopes and dreams. “I’ve worked for the Legal Aid Society, and I’ve seen how important a helping hand can be to people in crisis. Most of all, I’d like to encourage other women to keep following their dreams, no matter how hard the struggle, so that we will be able to build a brighter future for our families, and for ourselves.”