#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Past Scholarship Winners

Scholarship Winners 2010

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:

Leanne Wegge, Florida

The physical and emotional pain Leanne Wegge suffered as a domestic violence victim has morphed into a story of deep compassion and caring for other survivors.

“In 2001, I was doused with gasoline and burned over 67 percent of my body,” said Wegge. “I was left with years of pain, and physical, emotional, and accomplishment challenges. After all the turmoil cleared, I made a promise to myself that I would go back to school so that I could one day help women like myself that once walked down the long, lonely path of being abused.”

A social work major at Miami Dade College, Wegge volunteers for Women Protecting Women, a non-profit organization. She credits her own support system with helping her heal and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

“I have learned that even though I was for so many years verbally, and physically assaulted, put down, and so much more . . . that it’s not okay to be treated in that manner,” said Wegge, a mother of two. “I have also learned to never underestimate my abilities to achieve what I want to achieve. I have gained the self assurance and confidence that I need in order to look people in the eye and be all that I can be.”

Wegge will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition.

“In all my months, weeks and days of going to school and hearing other students talk about receiving scholarships, I never in a million years thought that I would ever receive one,” said Wegge. “I am so grateful for being selected that every time I think about it I get tears in my eyes.”

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.”