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Foundation provides mentorship and scholarships

Foundation provides mentorship and scholarships

Oct 26, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The group�s director visits each recipient to offer advice and track the student�s progress.

Blaire Downey of Shoshoni said she was discouraged last year before she was awarded a scholarship from The Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation.

�I had applied for 22 scholarships,� Downey said during a meeting with Susan Thomas this month at Central Wyoming College. �Only one called back, but they said I was too old.�

The 30-year-old accounting student hoped Thomas�s willingness to accept an older person would open up opportunities for others who are trying to earn a degree while raising a family. Downey has a 1-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, and she said the older child competes with her to see who can bring home better grades.

�She knows the reason for me to go back to school, so we�re not doing the paycheck-to-paycheck thing,� Downey said.

Thomas complimented her for engaging her daughter when it comes to schoolwork.

�I love the way you bring your family into it,� Thomas said.

She personally visits each of her scholarship recipients to offer advice and track the students� progress.

�We call it mentorship with a scholarship component,� Thomas said, adding that most of her students are dedicated to their work.

Downey was no exception: When she handed Thomas her grades ��one A and three B�s ��Downey said she is unsatisfied with the scores.

�I�ll make the dean�s list,� she said.

Thomas applauded Downey�s determination but said the grades already are �excellent.�

�The students we have are tougher on themselves than I ever was,� Thomas joked. �But I like that you�re self-motivated. That is such a gift, and you need to hear that. You have that bright light in you.�

This was Downey�s first semester with a Thomas Foundation scholarship, which she used to pay for books.

�We literally couldn�t have afforded the books if the scholarship wasn�t here,� Downey said.

She plans to graduate next fall with her accounting degree, and she said she would like to enroll at the University of Wyoming in the future.

The Thomas Foundation serves 14 students each semester, giving up to $1,200 to full-time students and $600 to part-time students. Thomas told Downey to reapply for more help next semester if she needs it.

�That�s why we exist ��to help pick you up,� Thomas said. �I believe everybody should have a shot.�

For more information, visit Thomas-Foundation.com.

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