September 27, 2023
Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship

Wives of first-responder and Navy machinist receive scholarships

Tonja Casey and Shannon Mangrum are the most recent winners of the CSU Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship, which honors the spouses and children of active-duty public safety personnel (firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and dispatchers) and military men and women.

Both women were surprised to learn their entries into the essay contest had won the online military scholarship, which covers tuition for up to 24 months for one specific online degree program.

Casey, a stay-at-mom in Alabaster, Ala., said, “I was stunned to learn I won the Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship. With the demands of raising four children and the difficulty planning classroom attendance around a firefighter’s schedule, I gave up on the dream to finish my degree years ago. I am excited to get started.”

Shannon Mangrum


Mangrum, who lives in Windham, Conn., and works for Navy Federal Credit Union, is also excited about starting her degree.

‘I currently work in the business industry and enjoy my job immensely. Hopefully this degree in organizational leadership will help solidify my place not only in the company I currently work for, but in the business industry as a whole,” she said.

Casey plans to seek a bachelor’s degree in human resource management because of her previous job as an administrative assistant with a nonprofit organization. “The job was very rewarding. I would like to find a similar career when my education is complete,” Casey explained.

Both women said their husbands inspired them to enter the contest. “My husband was the driving force behind me applying for the scholarship,” said Mangrum of her Navy Machinist Mate First Class Heath Mangrum. “He currently attends CSU and recommends it to everyone who wants to better themselves by furthering their education. He is quite the persuasive person, as I started filling out the application shortly after our conversation.”

Casey said her spouse Lt. Barry Casey of the Birmingham (Ala.) Fire & Rescue Service encouraged her to submit an essay.

“I completed chemotherapy for a highly curable cancer this week. Continuing my education at this time, gives me the opportunity to focus on something other than my disease and it will help me maintain the positive attitude essential to my recovery,” she added.

Mangrum said the Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship “means finally completing a goal I set for myself long before I met my husband. I set aside my educational aspirations in support of my husband’s career. This scholarship provides the confirmation I have been waiting for, knowing the decision to leave my previous traditional university behind six years ago to marry my submariner was the right choice, and in the end, I did not truly give up my dreams of obtaining my degree, but simply postponed it.”