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:
A. Jeffers (name has been changed), Washington
A. Jeffers turned to faith and hope to motivate her toward a better life after leaving her abusive marriage.
“Now that the kids and I were on our own, I had to make a decision about what I was going to do with my life and find a way to support us,” said Jeffers, the mother of two. “I decided to go back to college to earn that degree I’ve always dreamed of and need now more than ever.”
After taking career assessment tests, Jeffers found that social work kept popping up for her as a job path. “The description of the classes excited me! Working in a career when I could serve in the community and help would fill the desire I have to make a difference in others’ lives.”
She would like to work with troubled youth or the elderly. She will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition at Eastern Washington University and transportation costs.
“I have seen the powerful effects of having faith and hope,” said Jeffers. “I have also learned that having faith and hope is a choice. Choosing to have faith that a better tomorrow is coming has helped me to overcome situations that at one point or another have felt unbearable. I can’t wait to see what my future holds.”
Kathleen Graffeo, Arizona
Kathleen Graffeo had hoped her story would be one of being part of a strong, loving family. Her ex-husband shattered that dream when he abused her. Since then her story has become one of perseverance, self-reliance and being a role model for her two sons.
“A woman needs to have an education,” said Graffeo, 47. “You have to be able to count on yourself.”
Parenting her teenage boys alone with no other family and little help from child support, Graffeo earned her degree as a licensed practical nurse. She worked at a correctional facility for alcohol and drug offenders for four years. Once again, however, Graffeo chose safety when the facility began taking in more dangerous inmates. She quit, and for nearly a year was unable to find a permanent position.
“It seems that now most employers require only registered nurses,” she said.
Having completed the prerequisites for the RN program, Graffeo looks forward to completing the 23 credit hours she needs to graduate. She will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition and books at Pima Community College.
“By continuing my education,” said Graffeo. “I will be able to support myself and my children, ensuring that once they are grown, I will not be a financial burden on them. I believe that I will also be a good role model for them to not only seek a college education, but to find education that gives back to society as does the field of health care.”