#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Past Scholarship Winners

Scholarship Winners 2009

Author Linda Lael Miller’s Scholarships Help 10 Women Work Toward Helping Others

SEATTLE, WA—Ten women who’ve struggled with poverty, prison or health issues have won the 2009 Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. Each winner, despite her current life challenges, seeks to obtain her education so that she may be of service to others.

“My philosophy is, ‘Educate a woman, impact endless future generations,'” said Miller, a New York Times bestselling author of more than 80 novels.

Miller has awarded scholarships for the past nine years to women 25 years or older who have a difficult time finding scholarships for which they qualify. As in previous years, the grants may be used not only for tuition and books, but also for child care, transportation and other expenses not covered by traditional scholarships. Each of this year’s winners will receive $1,000.

Miller is no stranger to adversity. She struggled for years as she worked toward her dream of becoming an author. She started the scholarship program “as a way to give back. I was once a single parent, with my back to the wall a lot of the time, and I know how it feels.”

More than 1,700 women across the United States and Canada applied for Miller’s 2009 scholarships. Application essays were judged on readability, demonstration of commitment to the applicant’s education/career and on the possible impact of the scholarship on the life of the recipient, her family and/or her community. These following 10 women received top scores in all categories by the judges.

The 2009 winners of Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women are:

Ellen Sexton, Omaha, NE

Ellen Sexton What would the now-52-year-old Ellen Sexton go back and tell her 15-year-old self if she could?

“Instead of looking at the big picture, which many times can look so overwhelming, think about the next small step. Small steps eventually lead to big steps.”

At 15, Sexton dropped out of school, ran away from home and got pregnant. She spent a few years struggling to make ends meet with no education and two daughters. At 20, after completing her GED, she enrolled in college, determined to offer her children a better life than she had. At age 22, Sexton suffered a stroke, which left her paralyzed and partially blind. Unable to communicate with her college, she flunked all her classes and her student loans defaulted.

A few years later, Sexton returned to college. In 1983, her 5-year-old daughter was killed by a bus.

“I fell apart,” said Sexton. “My life was a downward drop. I had no interest in anything. I ended up going to prison not once, but three times, over the next 20 years. Over and over counselors would tell me that I didn’t belong there. They could see there was something more to me even though I could not see it myself anymore. Then my grandson was born, and he was identical to my dead daughter. I knew I had to pull myself together and be the woman I was meant to be.”

Sexton, grandmother of two, dreams of helping women avoid the same path she took, as well as helping women coming out of prison. She’s keenly interested in studying poverty’s impact of criminality and designing prevention programs.

“The way out is to obtain education,” said Sexton.

She will use the scholarship for school supplies.

Anne Phillips, San Diego, CA

Anne Phillips Anne Phillips said she has witnessed the “divine power of nurses.” When her father was dying of lung cancer, nurses helped make him comfortable before his death.

“Nurses are the liaison between the physician and the patient, between life and death of a patient. They are the angels,” said Phillips.

The oldest of nine children in a poor, rural, Nebraska family, Phillips began college at 19 to study to be a doctor. She became pregnant and postponed her dreams. She devoted herself to caring for her three children. When her youngest child graduated college in May 2009, Phillips picked up her medical field goals again.

“I dream of being a hospice or home health care nurse in a rural area,” said Phillips. “The need is great for compassionate, well-trained nurses to maintain quality of life at home for long-term patients. I have seen the way quality nursing care improves a patient’s sense of peace. I want to extend this to the patient’s home care.”

Phillips’ advice to women battling life’s challenges: “Always put your family first. Raising healthy, happy children is the most important job you’ll ever do.”

Phillips will apply her scholarship toward tuition.