Linda Lael Miller’s Scholarships for Women Fund Pursuit of Ten Winners’ Dreams
SPOKANE, Wash. — Linda Lael Miller loves to create women who make their own dreams come true against all odds in her novels. This year, the New York Times bestselling author has given 10 real-life women the opportunity to do the same with her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women.
In the 8th year of Miller’s contest, 1884 applications were received from women hoping to further their education with the help of these $1,000 scholarships. From working with children as a grade school teacher to helping women as a midwife nurse, the goals of these inspiring ladies are as diverse as the women themselves.
The winners in the 2008 competition range from a 26-year-old majoring in dental hygiene to an American Sign Language major hoping to improve communication abilities with an ill sister, just two examples of the incredible women selected for the scholarships.
“My philosophy is, ‘Educate a woman, impact endless future generations,'” Miller said, from the horse property outside Spokane where she writes novels set in the west of today and yesterday that are published by HQN Books.
Miller hopes to see generation after generation impacted by women who may not have otherwise completed their education without the help of her scholarships. Her vision for the program may be realized sooner than she expected, as many of this year’s winners are mothers, whose children and future grandchildren will learn all the things that can be achieved through education against all odds.
To be eligible for the scholarship program, a woman must be a U.S. or Canadian resident older than 25 years and enrolled in an accredited institution of learning. Winners may use the funds for books and tuition but also for daycare, transportation and other expenses not usually covered by scholarships.
The winners are selected based on essays written by the applicants, explaining why they need the scholarship and how their lives and families would be impacted by receiving it.
Miller knows firsthand the hardships these women have endured. Before she was known as the First Lady of the West for her bestselling novels, she experienced her share of discouraging setbacks. Now, after writing more than 70 novels, Miller is an acclaimed author with her latest bestseller, Montana Creeds: Logan, flying off the shelves.
The 2008 winners of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women are:
Melissa Usleaman, 40, of Brooksville, KY
When her husband Ray’s lupus symptoms worsened three and a half years ago, Usleaman had a house full of kids to care for—with her four children, 17, 14, 9 and 6, and Ray’s two young cousins, 14 and 12. Then there were bills to pay, a part-time job and a full college course load. She is so close to finishing both an Associate’s in Art degree and an Applied Science with Business Management degree from Maysville Community and Technical College, that she knows she must push through her last few classes so she can work full time.
Usleaman plans to pursue social work after graduating, preferably in a women’s crisis center, simply because she enjoys helping other people.
After all of her family’s hardships, she hopes getting her college degree will help turn things around.
Usleaman will use her funds to help pay for tuition, books and gas.
Lori Tisdale, 29, of Ladson, SC
Three years ago, Tisdale tragically lost her infant daughter, Rachael, to Spinal Atrophy Type I. Her experience with her daughter’s hospital stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, however, opened Tisdale’s eyes to the world of nursing. Now, she is studying at the Medical University of South Carolina to become a NICU nurse and lead bereavement groups in hospitals.
“Rachael taught me incredible patience, understanding and love, as well as how to react quickly and correctly in a life or death situation,” Tisdale said. She knows that her experiences will help her comfort other parents in similar situations.
Last year, Tisdale adopted a baby girl, Isabella, and hopes her new daughter will see through her mother how strong a woman she can be.
Tisdale will use the scholarship funds to assist with the costs of books and nursing supplies.