ATC Spotlight

Rankin Foundation Benefits Two Athens Technical College Students

Rankin Foundation Benefits Two Athens Technical College Students graphicWriter: Don Nelson

The Jeannette Rankin Foundation (JRF) has awarded two Athens Technical College students with scholarships that will enhance the women’s aspirations of working in healthcare professions.

Officials with the Athens-based philanthropy recently notified Sandroe Howard and Pamela Jones that the JRF will give each of them a $2,000 scholarship this year to use as needed to help them complete their college education. Both women recently earned their Healthcare Science certificates at Athens Technical College. Howard is entering the Health Information Technology program and Jones will start the associate of science degree program in Nursing at the college this fall. The JRF Scholarships are renewable for five years.

The Jeannette Rankin Foundation was named for an ardent proponent of women’s rights and the first woman to win election (1916) to the U.S. Congress. The foundation provides scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older to build better lives through college completion.

“Women selected for Jeannette Rankin scholarships are hard-working individuals who are attending college, keeping up with jobs and volunteer work in their communities, and caring for their families,” said Sue Lawrence, executive director for JRF. “Sandroe and Pamela are great examples of women who are juggling a lot of responsibility and succeeding. They are very determined and persistent.”

Being selected for a Jeannette Rankin scholarship represents a notable accomplishment for any woman; having two Athens Technical College students named as recipients is significant, Lawrence said. Three years have passed since the last Athens Technical College student was named as a beneficiary. The very first JRF recipient, in 1978, was an Athens Technical College student.

Seven hundred women from across the nation applied for the 87 individual scholarships that JRF is awarding this year. Additionally, since a JRF recipient can renew her scholarship for up to five years provided she performs well academically, there were 52 women who will continue receiving the JRF funding this year. The actual number of new scholarships available for 2014 was only 35, Lawrence explained. She added that selecting 35 women from a group of 700 is a challenging task for the JRF volunteers.

“Members of the selection group are trained to screen applicants for a complete application form in which a woman comes across as goal oriented, and in her own words presents a clear picture about how her education is going to help her build a better life for herself, her family, and her community,” according to Lawrence.

Lawrence said she is thrilled that two of the JRF scholarship recipients are from Athens Technical College because there is a very strong base of local support from “generous, warm-hearted donors.”

“This will give them an opportunity to meet Pamela Jones and Sandroe Howard who are being helped by the foundation, and I know those local donors are partly motivated by wanting to help local women,” Lawrence said.

Both Howard and Jones have dreamed of becoming active in healthcare since they were youngsters, but, as the saying goes, “life got in the way.” As a high school student, Howard envisioned a future in healthcare but in 1996 — her senior year at Madison County High School — she got pregnant with her first child and had to postpone those dreams. Now a single mother with five children, Howard spent the last eight years working as a waitress at a Waffle House restaurant. She enrolled at the college fall semester of 2011 to begin her quest for advanced education. This past March, she left the Waffle House and has devoted her time to her academics.

“I feel extremely blessed to have been chosen to receive the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship,” said Howard.

Howard is an Athens resident and also received the 2013 Athens Technical College Alumni Association scholarship.

Jones, from Rutledge, has dreamed of being a nurse for more than 20 years, but like Howard, had to set that ambition aside as she raised three children and ran an antiques shop next door to her husband’s hardware store. Once her children were grown, she thought she was too old to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

A freak and horrific kitchen accident, however, changed her perspective. In 2010, an oven burner ignited her husband’s clothing and the resulting fire severely burned him. His treatment and recuperation through the burn clinic at Doctors Hospital in Augusta took nearly a year. During that time, Jones received hands-on training from the nurses about how to treat her husband’s wounds and how to change his bandaging. The nurses were so impressed with Jones’ learning skills and abilities that they encouraged her to attend nursing school. She enrolled at Athens Technical College in 2012 to prepare for the Nursing program.

She said she is especially proud to receive the JRF scholarship because Jeannette Rankin is such an inspiring woman and because the purpose of the scholarship really resonates with her.

“This scholarship being for women over 35 who have faced challenges and are trying to better their lives by completing college speaks to what I am trying to accomplish here at Athens Tech,” she said.

Photo caption: Athens Technical College Nursing students Pamela Jones, left, and Sandroe Howard, were notified by the Jeannette Rankin Foundation that they each will receive a $2,000 scholarship to help with their college education.

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Sherry Abrams
(706) 583-2552