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:
Sheree Ann Morgan, California
Sheree Ann Morgan described her family growing up as “character enriching.”
As a rape and sexual assault survivor, Morgan lived in foster care and attended 22 different schools. At 17, she became pregnant and dropped out of high school. Committed to learning, however, Morgan passed the GED test and began attending a community college after the birth of her third child. Divorce, however, derailed her educational plans again.
Successfully sending all her kids off to college, Morgan expected to enjoy “her time” heading toward retirement. Her story changed when she lost her position as a legal secretary.
“After two years of unemployment, I realized my only hope of becoming employable at my age was to go back to school and earn my bachelor’s degree,” said Morgan.
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Azusa Pacific University, Morgan wants to work with sexual abuse survivors. “I believe I have a keen understanding of how long the healing process takes, and how many hearts and hands it takes to put a broken person back together. Through this, I have learned sexual assault is something which happened to me, but it is not who I am.”
In the meantime, to cut costs, Morgan lives on-campus in the dorms with students younger than her own children. “It may sound crazy at my age, but it is the most practical option for me as I would not have had readily available transportation to and from school.”
Morgan will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition, books and housing.
“In spite of the hardships that I have endured during this difficult period of my life,” said Morgan. “I am determined to turn things around and eventually work in an environment where I can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Julie S. (name has been changed), New York
Julie S.’s story began to change, from one of childhood abuse and dropping out of high school, when she finally decided to take the GED test.
“I had put off trying for my GED because I honestly didn’t think I could pass,” said Julie, who asked that her name be changed to protect her privacy. “It’s so hard to have faith in yourself when it seems you have nothing but a trail of failures behind you.”
Passing the test, as well as considering her two children’s future, inspired Julie to earn an associate’s degree in English for adolescent education. She’s continuing her education toward a bachelor’s degree in linguistics to become a teacher.
“If there is any wisdom or insight to share, it is simply to believe in yourself and keep the faith no matter how tough it gets. I know it sounds cliché, but these truly are the principles I live by every single day. The tears will come. You might doubt yourself because you’re afraid. That’s okay. Just don’t let it stop you.”
Caring for her son, diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disability, an autism spectrum disorder, competed with her studies, but also motivated her.
“As an educator, I hope to learn invaluable skills that can help my son get to graduation day with less frustration. I’ll finally be able to afford counseling for socialization. It might also help him make the friends he longs for,” said Julie.
She will use the $1,000 scholarship to buy a computer for her studies at Stony Brook University.
“Receiving this award has confirmed that I have what it takes to create the life that I want,” said Julie. ”It is an incredible feeling when someone recognizes the challenges you confront and conquer on a daily basis. I will still be an older, nameless face to most on campus, but someone out there now knows all the mountains I’ve been climbing to be there.”