Cheryl, Jeannette Rankin Alumna
At our Annual Dinner on September 16th, Jeannette Rankin Alumnae shared her story. Here's part of what she had to say:
I was so grateful for the opportunity to be able to share what the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund has enabled me to accomplish at the annual dinner. You see, my mother was a drug addict. I grew up in a home filled with drugs, violence and abuse. Then, I married an abusive man. I was convinced that I had no way out, not only because I couldn’t make it on my own, but because I believed that marriage was a sacred covenant not to be broken.
It took him threatening to put a bullet in my brain for me to make the decision that I had to leave despite the consequences. It was the most heart wrenching and scariest decision that I ever made. I had no home, no car, and no job.
While I was at the Domestic Violence shelter and trying to figure out how to start a life on my own with five children to take care of, I realized that I had a choice. I could get a minimum wage job, child support and government assistance and make ends meet, but I would always be reliant on the government to survive. Or, I could get extra government assistance, child support and scholarships to go back to school. Then, I would eventually be able to support myself without government assistance.
Everyone told me about all of the scholarships available for older, single moms, but as I tried to find them I found out that it was a myth. They just are not out there to the degree that many think. However, I was blessed to discover Jeannette Rankin Fund.
With Jeannette Rankin Fund's help, not only was I able to complete my degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, but I was able to procure a job that supports my family and enables me to give back. I was even able to buy my very own home! I cannot tell you what it means to not have to fill out the free lunch form for my children or worry about how I am going to pay the electric bill and buy the supplies my children need for some school project. Our lives have been forever changed and it is a direct result of the Jeannette Rankin Fund.
There are three things that I want desperately to convey to each of you. One, if he hits you, slaps you, or shoves you, it is abuse. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the face, head, shoulder, back or anywhere else. It is still abuse. It doesn’t matter whether it happens once a week, once a month, once a year or even every couple of years. It is still abuse, and it is ok to leave. You can do it! You can survive! You do not have to believe the lies that you aren’t worth it, or that you are incapable of surviving without him.
That leads to my next point. If you don’t like your life, you can change it! If you are in an abusive relationship, addicted to drugs, living in poverty, or just plain unhappy, you can change it. Make a plan and do it. You will want to give up. It will be hard. The key is to keep going no matter what, even when you feel like you can’t go on. At those times don’t think about tomorrow or even the next hour. All you have to do it determine to make it through the next minute. If you keep doing that, one day you will look around and realize you made it. All you have to do is not give up.
The third is that your gift matters! It can be the difference between success and failure. I know it was for me.
I would not be where I am, today, without the Jeannette Rankin Fund support. It has changed my life. It has changed my children’s lives. It has and will change all the women’s lives that I share my story with. It has and will change the lives of my children’s friends as they share it. I am just one woman, and you have had this much of an impact. Imagine what else can be accomplished!
My story is not over. I feel like I am just now getting to the good part, and I am so excited for the future. After my children are grown I plan on continuing my education to include a graduate degree. I hope to do research in Genetics and Epigenetics. It is a fascinating area of study that I believe can help so many suffering from everything from schizophrenia to PTSD and anxiety disorders. Until then, I will continue to share my story in hopes of encouraging other women to move past their difficult circumstances and making a better life for themselves and their children.
Thank you to the 2014 Annual Dinner sponsors!
Sponsors as of August 27, 2014.
Meet the Interns: Aerion
I can recall the moment I read the description for a Communications Outreach Summer Intern at Jeannette Rankin Fund. It was just a few days before I got some really disappointing news about my plans to work at a summer camp. Long story short, my summer plans fell through, leaving me with no summer employment. I sent an email to Sue Lawrence, Jeannette Rankin Fund’s Executive Director, about the internship, and spent the rest of the weekend wallowing in my bad luck.
Then Sue called asking for a meeting! I was excited about the opportunity to work on an important project in conjunction with an awesome non-profit organization, I was excited to possibly put the skills I had developed in my collegiate career to viable use, and I was excited to get some real experience in a future career.
There are a lot of times when things just will not work out, as much as you would like them to. Those things fall through so that better things can come together. For me, an internship with a leading scholarship organization for nontraditional women students was better than a summer camp job.
My primary focus is Congressional Outreach to increase awareness and support for Jeannette Rankin Fund, and the experience has been something completely new to me. I enjoy the communal atmosphere when I walk into the office. There is a common purpose that is deeply imbedded in the work of the JRF staff. That purpose is to do everything possible to make sure our scholars succeed. In each discussion and decision, you are able to see that what is in the best interest for the scholars, their families, and their community needs are at the forefront. I value that so much and as a result whenever I am working on pieces of my current project, my first thought is “Is this beneficial to our scholars?” or “Does this represent our scholars well?”
We do the everyday work to make Jeannette Rankin Fund function, but the scholars are truly at the heart of everything.
Aerion Ward is a second semester senior at the University of Georgia studying Psychology and Women’s Studies. In the fall she will embark on a semester long study abroad journey to Morocco. There she will take Gender Studies courses and intern with a local women’s rights organization. As a first generation college student herself, she is honored to work with Jeannette Rankin Fund and knows the impact that the organization has on women and their families.
Vahan Bracelet Raffle
You can win this stunning bracelet valued at $2,255 by entering the raffle below.
Proceeds will provide a life-changing scholarship to a low-income woman this year.
The drawing will be held on September 16, 2014, but you do not have to be present to win.
$10 per ticket
3 tickets -- $25 (save $5)
6 tickets -- $50 (save $10)
15 tickets -- $100 (save $50)
Tickets are no longer available online. You'll be able to purchase them at the Annual Dinner on September 16, 2014.
Annual Dinner 2014
Reservations are now closed. If you'd like to attend the Annual Dinner, please email email@example.com or call the office at 706-208-1211.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
5:30pm Social Hour begins -- 6:30 Dinner begins -- 8pm Conclude
Classic Center Atrium, parking in the Classic Center deck included
Margaret Wagner Dahl, Associate Vice President for Health IT at Georgia Institute of Technology
Margaret has worked for nearly 30 years in technology transfer and has extensive expertise in the biomedical industry and healthcare governance. Her position is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, which helps Georgia enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation.
Cheryl Jackson, Process Line Manager for Kellogg
Cheryl is a Jeannette Rankin Alumna, who earned her degree in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 2013. She said:
"When I started on this path I had almost no work experience and only a GED. Leaving an abusive marriage and going from stay at home mom of five children to single parent left me with very few options for employment, much less any that provided self-sufficiency. As I approach my final year to finishing my degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, I stand in amazement and gratitude that this dream is coming to fruition. I would not be in this position without the support of the Jeannette Rankin Foundation."