The night before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Marie Scantlebury found herself holed up in a hotel room in Jackson, Miss. Marie was in the process of completing a Masters of Business Administration at Tulane University in New Orleans. She had left her small apartment in a frenzy, annoyed at the inconvenience, waiting until the last minute to escape the storm. Marie had taken with her hardly any possessions – a laptop computer, homework, and some dirty laundry – expecting to return to campus the next day. She never imagined the devastation that the hurricane would cause.


Like the rest of the city, Tulane was completely shut down after the hurricane. Flooding, fallen trees, and wind damaged eighty-seven university buildings, causing the displacement of nearly 100,000 students. Marie had to head to her mother’s in Illinois, leaving everything behind.


Students at Tulane were encouraged to continue their fall semester either online or at another university; Marie continued classes at the University of Chicago. Thanks to help from her schools, from a few professors, and from Scholarship America’s Disaster Relief Fund and other scholarships, Marie was able to spend a year there, return to Tulane in 2006, and finish her MBA on time without extra debt.


Today, Marie is the director of Community Impact with the United Way of St. Charles in Luling, Louisiana, just twenty miles outside of New Orleans.


national Scholarship Month

Between 1998 and 2005, Scholarship America dedicated the month of May to “the effort to inspire, motivate and challenge people in this country to make a difference for youth,” as stated by former Scholarship America president, Dr. William C. Nelsen. National Scholarship Month, as it was called, was a collaboration between nonprofit, government and corporate agencies to encourage and enact a variety of national, regional, and local events. These events served to call attention to the need for increased private scholarship support. Each year featured a new theme and increasing numbers of partners, media attention, and events.


“Without scholarships, I would not be able to afford college. I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know; I have been given an opportunity to not only improve the living of my family, but also the community and the people around me.”


Those were the words of Vladimir Vojnovic, who turned his 2001 scholarship from his mother’s employer, Hershey Foods Corporation, into an education in accounting and international business at Georgetown University. (Scholarship America's Scholarship Management Services division has managed the program for the children of Hershey employees since 1991.)


Vlad was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the first nine years of his life, he was a happy-go-lucky kid with no worries or responsibilities. That was all taken away one day in February 1992; the civil war that spread across the Balkans came to Sarajevo. After three long years of death and destruction, not much remained of Vlad’s childhood. His family’s home was destroyed, he lost members of his family and many friends, and most importantly, he lost himself, his dreams and hopes for the future.


Seeing no opportunity for them in Sarajevo, Vlad’s family decided to leave everything and start over. They came to the United States with $11 in one dollar bills, a parting gift from a relative. His parents spoke no English, and while Vlad and his sister had previous English education, nothing could prepare them for full immersion into the American culture and way of life. In March 2003, the Vojnovic family celebrated their eighth anniversary of coming to the United States. “For me, this anniversary defines everything; who I am, who I should be, and what I can do,” said Vlad.


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