Four women receive financial help to further their education

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. - (KNEP) - The Panhandle Business and Professional Women Organization handed out four $1,000 scholarships Wednesday afternoon.

Pictured left to right: Melissa Shy Dodge, Leigh Thompson, Rebecca Standage, Julia Lopez (Source KNEP)

To be eligible, students must be female, at least 25 years old and a resident of the Panhandle or a student at a local school. This year, the organization awarded Rebecca Standage of Alliance, Julia Lopez of Scottsbluff, Leigh Thompson of Mitchell and Melissa Shy Dodge of Oshkosh with the funds.

Standage was honored and stated it was very humbling to receive the scholarship because she typically isn’t one to necessarily ask for help. She is a mom and decided to go back to school so she can get a chance to provide for her kids. She also wants to one day enjoy their life and be a part of it without having to work multiple jobs just to get by.

Standage got out of orientation at WNCC-Alliance Wednesday morning to head down to the luncheon and receive recognition.

Each woman including Standage and Lopez feel this is an opportunity for them to set an example for kids. Lopez was the first person in her family to graduate high school but wants to show her sister’s children that the finish line isn’t high school.

She was elated to find out she was receiving one of the scholarships and said another motivating factor was hearing at a young age that she would never be successful.

That wasn’t the case though for Thompson who revealed she dropped out of high school at 16. It wasn’t until a work-related injury which caused her to lose her job that she looked back to her education. Thompson never thought she was college material but was nudged into looking at it from a woman at the unemployment office in the Panhandle.

With renewed energy, Thompson looked at her life and saw how drugs has affected her family and is now working on a human services degree while becoming a drug and alcohol counselor.

Shy Dodge is also looking to help others but in a different capacity. She lost her husband in the early 2000’s and had to support her kids so, education was placed on the backburner. Now having remarried, she looks back at her childhood where her uncle told her, ‘everyone is capable of learning you just have to figure out how they learn.’

Shy Dodge also grew up with a special needs Aunt and realized her passion is to help those in need. She is hoping her return to school pushes the students she mentors at the high and junior high schools in Oshkosh to continue their education.

These scholarships were made possible primarily through the organization’s Java, Jewelry & Jazz event.