By Blair Dupre, Sentinel Living Editor Mar 9, 2023
The essays have been turned in and the Fort Hood Military Family Members Scholarship organization has received twice as many scholarship applications as they did last year.
“We are thrilled to share that we have received nearly 60 applications this year! This is a tremendous response,” said Summer Barbina, FHMFMSF president. “A sincere thanks to all who helped share about our program and to those that applied. With this enormous response, we are seeking additional funding to support as many qualified applicants as possible. As a volunteer run organization, we’re able to give more than 95% of all dollars donated directly back to our awardees in the form of scholarships. Every dollar donated makes a difference and allows us to provide a more impactful award to these deserving students.”
Scholarship eligibility extends to active duty, retired and gold star families for high school seniors and spouses working towards their first bachelor’s degree. The scholarships give the recipients a confidence boost before entering college, and for some, it can be validating.
“It was a great honor and a privilege to receive this scholarship, and in a sense, it reaffirmed that I was on the right track,” said Miles Azuma-Hall, a previous scholarship recipient who graduated from Georgetown High School and is now studying biological sciences at Northwestern University. “Receiving the scholarship was definitely a boost of confidence. In the middle of such a confusing time with so much change underway, it was reassuring to receive something that validates my past effort as well as helps to lessen the financial burden of college. The generosity of the FHMFMSF donors has touched me and will have a lasting impact on my studies.”
It was just as validating for military spouse Nicole May, who is studying social/behavioral science at Central Texas College.
“This was the first scholarship I have ever received,” she shared. “It reminded me that I am on the right path, and that even when I do not feel deserving of a scholarship, that I am worthy of it. Before receiving this scholarship, my confidence level was so low. I remember telling my husband there is no way I would be chosen, because others are more deserving than I am.”
The impact can last well into the recipient’s career. James Markert received a FHMFMSF scholarship in 2016 when he graduated from Killeen High School with a plan to attend the University of Texas. He graduated from UT in December of 2021 with bachelor’s degrees in applied learning and development and is now a fourth grade teacher with Leander Independent School District.
“I felt very supported and appreciated (when I received the scholarship) because it helped me feel supported by a community that wanted to see me succeed in life,” he said. “I knew that every bit of support that I received not only helped build my confidence and put me at ease, but it also allowed me to focus more on my academics both leading up to and during my college years.”
Barbina said all of this impact has been made possible by donations from different organizations and people who want to help Fort Hood Soldiers’ children and spouses achieve their educational goals.
“Our organization is funded solely by the generous donors who believe in our mission. The Fort Hood Area Thrift Shop, Fort Hood Spouses’ Club, The Great Place Gift Shop, Frank and Sue Mayborn Foundation and First Heroes National Bank are our legacy donors that have given to our program for many, many, years. We are extremely grateful for their financial support and faith in our organization.”
Azuma-Hall, May and Markert expressed their gratitude to the donors who funded their scholarships.
“I’m incredibly grateful to those who donated, and I’m working hard to get the absolute most out of this opportunity,” Azuma-Hall said. “This scholarship has helped to motivate me in my studies, extracurriculars, and paraprofessional pursuits. I’d encourage those who are able to keep supporting the FHMFMSF; doing so gives opportunities to the next generations of talented individuals that may not have a chance otherwise.”
“Thank you, so much, from the bottom of my heart,” May said. “This scholarship is helping me to continue my education, so I can show my children that it’s never too late to achieve your goals. I am making it possible for my babies to have a much better life than I did, and I couldn’t do it without scholarships and grants.”
“I would like to say a very big thank you to those who have donated towards the fund, both for myself and for others who have been helped by it,” Markert said. “I am glad to say that life is turning out nicely after college. I am currently teaching fourth grade now and I recently got married, we just had our first baby, and are looking at buying a house which is exciting! This all would not have been possible without the support of everyone that has helped me in life up to now, including the Fort Hood families and the Fort Hood Military Family Member Scholarship Fund.”
Donations are tax-deductible and can be made through PayPal or on the FHMFMSF website https://www.forthoodscholarship.org/. Checks made out to Fort Hood Military Family Member Scholarship Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 5299, Fort Hood, TX 76544. The donation deadline for this year’s recipients is April 30.
For more information, visit the FHMFMSF website.