I Did It!

By Tina Michelle Cameron

I did it! I did it! After 2 ½ years of taking classes as prerequisites and being accepted into the RN to BSN Mobility Distance Learning Program at The University of Alabama last May—I am now able to say I am an alumna! Class of 2019!

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My graduation day was May 3rd, 2019 at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I had worked so hard to get to that point I wanted to experience all I could as a Senior. I had Senior pictures on campus made, I decorated my graduation cap which got numerous comments on how pretty it was. It was a wonderful weekend. I have dreamed of earning this degree for so long. I have been a nurse for 28 years and once my boys were grown, it was time for me to finish what had been on my bucket list since I was 18. So, 32 years later, my dream of having a four-year degree came true.

I attended the class ring ceremony with my mom on April 4th. I absolutely love my ring and what it represents. I wear it every day. The next weekend, I drove back to Tuscaloosa and had Senior pictures made and attended the annual Spring football game—it is called A-day. That morning, I also attended a breakfast where Coach Nick Saban was a speaker. It was amazing.

Resized_20190503_165519  I am blessed that my 2 adult sons and my parents were able to attend the graduation ceremony in Tuscaloosa. I went to the Presidents Mansion reception, which was nice, followed by a separate reception for the Distance Learning students. The graduation ceremony was after that and I must admit that I was nervous walking in alone to check-in and line up with the several thousand much younger graduates. I was thrilled to get to spend 90 minutes in the football teams indoor practice field. I stood on the 50-yard line and took a selfie.

Walking in to the coliseum I became excited and tearful all at once. I finally was able to locate my family in the stands. I prayed that I did not trip and fall walking across the stage and that my pictures they took earlier would come out well. When I picked up my card for lineup it said I was graduating Magna cum laude—I had no clue. I was given a sash to wear. I did not text my family to tell them, I wanted them to be surprised. I knew I good grades, but Distance Learning students are not recognized for the Dean’s List, etc. So, I had assumed they would not recognize all my hard work at graduation, but I was wrong! This was one of the best days of my life and having my children and parents there made it better. I even wore my son’s graduation cap he wore 4 years ago when he graduated from Bama. He even gave me a note before the ceremony that he wrote me, and his note was still in his cap that I wrote him the day he graduated.

I have enclosed pictures of my day. We had a great weekend and I am so proud to have this degree. My new id badge will read Tina Cameron, BSN, RN, OCN. I cannot wait to have it changed once I go back to work from vacation. I also have been accepted into the MSN program at The University of Alabama for Fall 2019, so I cannot wait to start grad school and in 2 years have my master’s degree.

Resized_TCB_0200_811289033076249            I would like to thank all my family and my friends who have supported me the past 3 ½ years. You will never know how special each of you are to me and how much I appreciate each of you.

 

 

The scholarship challenge

By June Headley Greenlaw

Anyone that has children in school should start looking now for scholarships!  I will warn you; it can be a daunting task. There are scholarships available for kids in K-12.  The first scholarship my daughter got was awarded when she was in 9th grade.  It was $5,000/year for up to four years, so nothing to sneeze at for sure.  I want to share a little of my kids’ scholarship journey with you and offer some advice.

capAlthough it’s never too early to get started, you will find that most scholarships are offered to high school seniors.  However, you should know that most of them are due in the first few months of the senior year.  There are some that allow kids in any grade to apply and yet others that are just for kids already in college.

Our four oldest children all went into the military after school making my first experience looking for scholarships was with our child that is now a senior in college, but his sister was only three years behind him, so I was searching for both of them.  Unfortunately, I didn’t start until his senior year which is why I’m sharing this info with all of you.  Don’t do what I did!

My journey started by searching the net.  Searching that way was very frustrating because there are a lot of scams out there and it can take quite a bit of time to see which ones are credible and then find out if your child is qualified.  I came across an app that I love!  It’s called Scholly, and I believe they now charge a very small fee for it.  Note that I don’t know who owns that site nor do I get any commission for recommending it.  It’s just a great site that will allow you to put in the details about your child and it will sort out which ones they qualify for you.  It also provides the link to each of them so you can go directly there and apply.

I called the adventure of scholarship seeking a part-time job, and that’s not an overstatement.  Luckily, both my children received a number of scholarships that ranged from $300 one-time to 5,000/year for all four years.  I decided during my journey to try to make things easier for friends and family, so I created a Facebook page called Scholarship Seekers (SS).  It has a graduation cap with dollar bills in it as the cover picture if you want to join it.  It’s a private page because initially I had a ton of unknown to me people joining and I thought I should limit the competition.  I’m opening it up to all who read this blog.

Many of the posts on the SS page are from years ago, but the vast majority of them are still available.  You’ll see a variety of opportunities from those that require an essay to those that just require your contact info to apply.  I suggest talking to your kids about how much time they have to spend on this venture because they will be the ones to write the essays.  I try to update the page and add a few new opportunities each year.

cakeI encourage you to search all the places you do business with such as your credit card companies, your insurance company, your bank or credit union, especially your place of work.  There are a ton of scholarships that are not awarded each year simply because nobody applies.  I was in college with an older woman that got a scholarship from Ponds hand cream!  There is money everywhere.  You just have to be willing to spend the time necessary to secure some for your children.

I hope some of my suggestions will save you time.  I wish all of you happy hunting, and I hope you start to think about scholarships everywhere you go.  When you are shopping in a grocery store, ask the manager if they have scholarships available.  If you are shopping for a car, ask the dealership if they offer scholarships to customers.  Never give up because you’ll be competing with many others, but the more time you put into the search, the more rewarding it will be!