VFW AUXILIARY ANNOUNCES 2020 CONTINUING EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
Four $1,000 scholarships awarded, one in each of the Auxiliary Conferences
Kansas City, Mo., May 1, 2020 – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) Auxiliary is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Continuing Education Scholarship contest. Four $1,000 scholarships were awarded, one in each of the Auxiliary Conferences.
Katana Valle-Sloane was named the winner of the Big Ten Conference. Valle-Sloane, a Life Member of VFW Auxiliary 2492 in Imlay City, Michigan, is in her second year, and on the dean’s list, at Central Michigan University and majoring in secondary education (mathematics) with a minor in Spanish.
She said the Auxiliary scholarship will provide additional financial support to help her complete her degree. Being raised by a single mom who experienced the financial challenges of providing on a single income, but found ways to give back through volunteerism, motivated Valle-Sloane.
“My mom and I work hard to fund my education, but it is a constant struggle,” she said. “My career goal is to be a teacher overseas where I can use Spanish to help teach mathematics, making a difficult subject easier to understand. Mathematics can open doors to a variety of career paths, and I want to make that an attainable dream for those who have goals but not access to quality education. I want to contribute to others’ success.”
Danielle Barger was named the winner of the Eastern Conference. Barger is the daughter of Lisa Barger, a Life Member of VFW Auxiliary 5579 in Gibbstown, New Jersey. Barger is studying for a master’s of science in clinical health counseling at Wilmington University.
While a post-9/11 GI Bill covered her undergraduate degree, she said the Auxiliary scholarship will help offset loans to pay for her graduate degree. She also has plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Having one close family member who suffered from post-service mental health issues and another who took her own life after a cancer diagnosis and rapidly deteriorating health, Barger wants to dedicate her life to working at a VA hospital or with oncology patients so she can ensure that individuals and their families receive the mental health services they deserve.
“I will conduct research to aid in the development more effective ways of treating mental disorders and work face-to-face with veterans, cancer patients and their families to provide counseling services. Mental health should never get overlooked, and I am determined to aid in recovery,” she said.
Katrina Duff was named the winner of the Southern Conference. Duff, a Life Member of VFW Auxiliary 8947 in Mineral, Virginia is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) studying at Germanna Community College to become a nurse.
Duff said the Auxiliary scholarship will lessen the burden of student loans she needs to go back to school to pursue a second career. Due to the demands of nursing school hours, she is only able to work part-time, and her spouse is a disabled veteran awaiting acceptance into a vocational rehabilitation program. Continuing her education will take pressure off her husband and family.
“It will allow him to find a civilian career he enjoys rather than just making ends meet,” she said. “Beyond stabilizing my family (that includes four children), I love nursing. When I was laid off from my IT career, I was excited at the opportunity to start again at something I enjoy and that can do a little bit of good in the world.”
Samantha Grist was named winner of the Western Conference. Grist is the daughter of Valerie DiDomenico Grist, a Life Member of VFW Auxiliary 3928 in Benicia, California. Grist plans to study nursing at California State, East Bay-Concord Campus.
Grist said the Auxiliary scholarship will help supplement her limited financial support, in part setting a career in motion that she has been drawn to throughout her life. She has been in family caregiving roles for both her grandmother and nephew.
“Throughout my life, I have dedicated myself to encourage and uplift those around me,” she said. “It is my obligation as a nurturer to provide a deeper level of healing mentally, physical and spiritually. Overall, contributing to the health of others gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and propels me to be the most authentic version of myself. My retired single mother is on a set monthly income, and I am dedicated to doing my part in contributing to my educational costs. As a full-time and first-generation student, this scholarship will not only allow me to continue to volunteer in my community, but will also enable me to continue my education.”
Established in 2005, the Continuing Education Scholarship assists VFW Auxiliary members and their immediate family members (spouse, son or daughter) who wish to further their education by pursuing a college degree or career direction at a vocational/technical school. For more information about VFW Auxiliary scholarships, visit www.vfwauxiliary.org/scholarships.
The VFW Auxiliary is one of the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organizations and our members are the relatives of those who have served in overseas combat. We have nearly 475,000 members representing all 50 states who volunteer millions of hours and give millions of dollars to support veterans, military service personnel, and their families.
We are a voice for veterans on Capitol Hill and are instrumental in assisting the VFW pass or block legislation that impacts veterans and their families. We are one of the top ten providers of volunteer hours in the VA medical system. Every year, members raise millions of dollars for charitable projects that benefit veterans and their families. We also provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships for our nation’s youth. With nearly 3,800 Auxiliaries, there is likely one in your area working to improve the lives of America’s uncommon heroes. Learn more at www.vfwauxiliary.org.