Military spouse receives SNHU scholarship
Education has not always been easy Heather Poss, but she is now more than ready to move forward towards her goals and achieve her dreams.
As a longtime military wife and mother of three, Poss had little time to focus on herself and her aspirations. But, as her kids grow up and her family has been able to settle in Hawaii, she’s ready to put her goals first.
“Going back to school had worried me a lot lately. I felt it was a good time to dip my feet in and slowly start working towards my education goals, ”said Poss. “I signed up for Operation Homefront Celebration and saw that SNHU would choose a military spouse to give a scholarship to, and took a photo in the dark.”
On Saturday, September 18, Poss received a full scholarship to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) where she will have the opportunity to earn her bachelor’s degree online. The scholarship was awarded at a virtual event sponsored by SNHU.
“This scholarship allows me, with complete peace of mind, to pursue my educational goals. For military families, peace of mind and self-assurance are very rare and an invaluable luxury, “said Poss.” I have been given the opportunity to pursue my dreams. “
Empower military spouses
Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that strives to create strong, stable and secure military families, partners with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) several times a year to celebrate military spouses across the country.
“Military life can challenge the pursuit of meaningful careers for so many military spouses, as frequent moves, deployments, and often living away from family support make it difficult to earn a traditional degree.” , said Sarah adams, senior manager of Operation Homefront serving Hawaii. “We are so grateful to the University of Southern New Hampshire for giving Heather a chance to make her dream come true, helping her start strong and stay strong no matter where the military may take her family.”
Operation Homefront and SNHU recognize that accessing higher education is often a challenge that many military spouses face. To date, SNHU has awarded more than 30 full scholarships for spouses of military online degree programs, all of which have been featured at Homefront celebrations nationwide.
“This scholarship is a small way through which we can demonstrate to our community of military spouses that we see them, value them and honor their sacrifices,” said Melissa Escobar-Pereira, Regional Director, Military Alliances at SNHU, as well as a US Army veteran and current military spouse. “With every scholarship we give, we do what we do best; change lives.
For spouses of military personnel like Poss, this can be the first step towards their own goals. “I believe that a degree is important for military spouses because it allows us to have something in our life that is ours and ours alone,” she said.
A revived passion
Her husband’s service as a Yeoman First Class in the US Navy has brought their family to many new places. Their latest move opened Poss’s eyes to new possibilities for his future.
“When my family recently moved to Hawaii, commissioned for Pearl Harbor, my passion for marine life was rekindled,” Poss said. “Going to the beach with my family and seeing all the microplastics and garbage everywhere broke my heart and sparked a strong desire to encourage change.”
As his passion and concern for marine life picked up again, Poss began to think maybe now was a good time to consider going back to school. She was researching local community colleges when she learned that she had won the SNHU scholarship, confirming that she was on the right track. Poss is excited to start her Bachelor of Environmental Science with a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation.
“An SNHU degree gives me the flexibility to achieve my goals at a pace that suits my family and my family’s military lifestyle. I can take as many or as few courses as I can, whatever season of military life we find ourselves in, ”said Poss. “It’s the cornerstone of financial freedom and the ability to work in a field that fascinates me. “
While she is just starting her environmental science program, her motivation doesn’t stop there as she is already thinking about the future. Her long-term goal is to earn a second bachelor’s degree in marine biology to become a more educated and marketable conservation scientist.
Find the strength to fight for herself
Military spouses often make sacrifices, putting their own dreams on hold. These challenges can create personal difficulties, sometimes related to mental health; something Poss knew all too well.
“I was diagnosed with clinical depression as a teenager and it’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life,” Poss said. “My worst difficulties were at our last duty station in the Great Lakes. It was cold and overcast for much of the year, which I was not used to. It sent me to a dark place where I struggled with suicidal ideation quite frequently.
Her family were patient and supportive as they found the strength to fight for herself and her family.
“They gave me the strength to fight for myself, to ask for advice, to stay consistent with the meds, and to take things one day at a time,” Poss said.
When applying for the scholarship, she was vulnerable and honest about her mental health, and it ultimately paid off.
“She showcased her authentic self, detailed her struggles and demonstrated that she wanted to grow in her candidacy, and that resonated with so many of us,” Escobar-Pereira said.
With over 14 years as a military spouse, Poss said life as a military spouse is exciting, scary, stressful and wonderful all in one. Even with the struggles, she enjoys her military life and wouldn’t want it any other way.
Having found strength within herself and with the support of her family, Poss is ready to take charge of her studies and implement her goals.
“It took a long time and a lot of hard work, but things got better,” she said. “Now every day is sunny and rainbow, and literally like we are in Hawaii, and I can start chasing my dreams with the SNHU scholarship.
Alexa Gustavsen ’21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.