Natasha Thompson is the latest recipient of the Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship. When she and her high school sweetheart Yahahn became parents as teenagers, their focus immediately changed to supporting their young family. Natasha found ways to “sporadically” further her education, but her duties in the home always came first.
Natasha’s husband, a chief in the Navy, earned his degree with military tuition assistance, but Natasha never felt that those education benefits belonged to her.
“Each time I registered for classes, once the institution is made aware that I am a military spouse, they always ask me about using my husband’s GI Bill. The answer to that was a resounding, ‘That is for our daughter. She will attend college right out of high school,’” said Natasha. “Now, that answer is ‘Our daughter used it.’ I am proud to say that she graduated from San Diego State University in three years and continues to make us proud.”
She is the only one in her family still waiting to achieve her goal, but because of the Hero Behind the Hero scholarship, she will finally be able to do that.
“In the next five years, my projected goals are to complete my degree program and obtain my Project Management Professional certification,” said Natasha. “In addition, the degree program will prepare me for the Project Management Professional boot camp course requirement in order to prep for the exam. Upon obtaining the Project Management Professional certification, I would like to obtain a position as a project manager as a civilian contractor. I enjoy the contract I am currently working on and my experience, degree and the certification will take my career to the next level.”
Though she is anxious to complete her degree, Natasha knows that it is not just a classroom, but also life, that can help prepare you for your career.
“As a mom, I learned compassion, empathy and understanding to say the least. Being a teenage mother, I learned to be adaptable, take things as they come and how to cope with difficult situations. I also learned that I would have to take charge of my life in order to ensure the best life for my child,” she said.
As for life in a military family, Natasha is grateful for her husband’s hard work and what the lifestyle has taught them.
“Some people think it’s easy to be a military spouse because the military moves you; however, there are logistics outside of what the service member coordinates that are necessary to have a smooth transition to a new location, often times, to a new location without family and friends around,” she said. “As a military spouse, each move is a project in itself. House hunting, childcare and school choice are just a few of the tasks in that overall project. It requires time management, working with different entities, monitoring, scheduling and coordination.”
To learn more about the Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/Hero.
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