Kate is currently an educator raising 3 young children. She attributes her desire to obtain her master’s in counselling, a career change for her, as having come from connecting with the NFFF when her husband was honored in October 2021. Having lost her husband to cancer, raising 3 young children through the grieving process, and benefitting from the small group sessions at Memorial Weekend, Kate feels called to help other first responders and their families.
In April 2021, Kate had the honor of helping to get Kansas Senate HB 2063, The Michael Wells Memorial Bill passed. She testified in support of the bill that will now grant firefighters and police officers who die due to a service-related medical disability the same benefit as those who die in the line of duty. Kate coaches her daughter’s volleyball team, volunteers with the youth of her church, and volunteers weekly in her children’s school library.
Battalion Chief Mains says, “Kate is steadfast, determined, servient, compassionate, and optimistic in all that she does. She has a great work ethic and is well grounded. I have full faith and confidence that her qualities prove she is a deserving recipient.”
Joe is currently a senior in high school. He plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Accounting through Wayne State College. He shares that he plans to work while attending school but knows the value of receiving scholarships to help defray the high student debt load of higher education.
Joe is a 4-year participant of the Science Club and Quiz Bowl. He has played basketball for the past 3 years and spent 1 year on Student Council. He often helps his mother with the various volunteer organizations she volunteers for. Joe credits her for having expectations for her sons to give back to their community.
Nebraska State Fire Marshal Chief Investigator Matzner says, “Watching Joe as an innocent 3-year-old trying to process his father’s death was humbling. He is actively involved in his high school where he excels in academics, athletics, and quiz bowl. He works part-time and contributes to his family’s success. Joe is one of the most heartfelt and kindest seniors you will know. These characteristics make him a deserving recipient of the National Fallen Firefighters Scholarship Program.”
Kadence is currently a senior in high school. Her educational goals are to major in Psychology/Human Services with a minor in biblical study. Upon graduation, she looks to open her own center to help those with mental illness, homelessness, addictions, and to help grieving children whose firefighter died in the line of duty. Kadence attributes her desire to help others comes from watching her father serve as a firefighter.
She is a member of the Christ’s Church Ascension Youth group and traveled with them this past summer to the LA Dream Center where they ministered to the communities less fortunate. Kadence assisted with feeding the homeless and picked up trash in the community. The most impactful part of the trip for her was listening to those that her group served as everyone deserves to be listened to.
Senior Pastor Gerry Chavez writes, “Kadence is an amazing woman with a lot of promise. Her kind, compassionate heart for people and respect for authority is admirable. Kadence is incredibly smart and faithful as demonstrated by her involvement in youth ministry and serving on numerous mission trips.”
Ryan is currently a senior in high school. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After obtaining his degree, Ryan plans to attend the fire academy to become a firefighter, just as his father before him.
He hopes to be a firefighter and start his own business as a second job. Ryan works for an indoor gaming arena and when not studying or work, enjoys playing lacrosse. His personal goal for himself is to put his mental health first through daily exercise, healthy eating, and proper sleep. Ryan shares that he thrives when he can do these things daily.
Deputy Chief John Dowling says, “Ryan is very involved in the community. Since I have known him, he has held multiple jobs, actively participated on various sports teams, and always shows love for his family and friends. I am proud to have watched Ryan grow from a strong boy into a strong young man through the adversity of losing his father. I admire him for wanting to become a firefighter to save lives and help people as his father did.”
Courtney recently moved across the country in preparation to obtain her doctorate degree in clinical psychology. Her goal is to become a successful clinician, scholar, and doctoral level psychologist where she will investigate, practice, and develop evidence-based practices for children in the juvenile justice system.
Courtney is a representative of Pacific University’s Student Association serving as an advocate and addressing the needs of first year graduate students. She previously served as Vice President of the Roger Williams University’s Graduate Student Association, and in 2018 was a crisis advocate for the Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center. Courtney works part-time at her school and as a Pilates instructor at a local studio.
Psychology Professor Zaitchik writes, “Courtney presents as a confident, articulate, intelligent, mature, self-aware, and socially skilled young woman. Her empathy for others and connection to her community are her most outstanding qualities.”
Kennedy is currently a senior in high school and plans to pursue her B.A. in English. She shares that she is very passionate about becoming a poet. She is currently in Beta Club and the National Honor Society where she is gathering her required volunteer hours for school. Kennedy has been involved in NJROTC for the past four years.
When not fulfilling responsibilities for NJROTC, Beta Club or the National Honor Society, as the oldest child in her family, she assists her mother in raising her three young sisters.
Kelly Rush, Piano Instructor writes, “Kennedy is a very talented and dedicated student. She was attending school virtually when her father became ill. Kennedy struggled to keep up and stay focused but was determined to continue her education and graduate on time. After her father’s passing, Kennedy has exhibited a resilience and strength through adversity that I know she will represent your scholarship very well.”
Karen is the mother of five children, one of which is a special needs child. Her undergraduate studies were covered by Ohio’s Safety Officer’s Memorial Fund that covered her instructional costs, but they do not cover beyond a bachelor’s degree. Karen hopes to receive a scholarship to continue her education and participate fully in her children’s lives without needing to work full-time or incurring significant student debt. Her goal is to help others deal with traumatic life events through clinical mental health counseling.
Outside of her academic activities, she spends most of her time caring for her daughter with special needs and two other siblings since their father’s death. Karen was involved with the school PTA for her children until her husband passing and more recently served as Secretary for the Kent State Trumbull Student Government.
Her Psychology professor writes, “Karen is always organized and motivate. She is in the top 10% of her class. Karen is respectful, insightful, self-aware, and very nurturing to those around her. Your scholarship would not just fund a worthy student but will benefit all who she works with.”
Frank, better known as Grant to his family and friends, is currently a senior in high school. He has always looked up to his parents because of their lives of service and deciding in 8th grade that he, too, wanted to serve others. His choice was solidified in his freshman year after taking an honors biology class when he recognized that the lab experiments captivated him daily.
Grant participates in cross-country, track, and basketball. While he enjoys playing sports, Grant shares that his passion is science and math. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has served as class President since 2019. Grant is also a Youth in Government member sponsored by the local YMCA. In his spare time, he volunteers as a youth group leader and altar server with his church.
Deputy Chief (Retired) Bruno writes, “Grant was always a leader; the one who others looked up to and is always doing the right thing. He is committed to academics as well as growing personally while serving others. I am confident that he will continue to excel academically and go on to do great and creative things in his future.”
Rylee is currently a senior in high school. She will be attending the University of La Verne this fall where she will pursue her major in marketing and will minor in photography. Her career goal is to become a professional photographer. Rylee is grateful to learn of the availability of the National Fallen Firefighters scholarship program as one of her biggest concerns was how to pay for school after her father’s death.
She currently is involved in cheerleading and participates in Link Crew where she mentors a group of freshmen to help them navigate their first year of high school. Rylee is also involved in an internship where she shadows a professional photographer to gain experience toward her future.
Firefighter Frank Hernandez states, “Rylee is a person of honor, integrity, and character and she learned these values from her father. She is an encourager and places others before herself. Her mastery of time management has allowed her to achieve a high academic performance which will serve her well in college.”
Shawn is certified as a Critical Care Paramedic and LPN who works full-time as a paramedic/firefighter and is looking to obtain her education in health care administration. She is pursuing a new career to better provide for herself. Shawn shares that she has a single income and is trying to attend school full-time while working full-time.
Shawn has served as the Ambulance Director for the Sturgis Ambulance Service since March 2012. In her time, she has grown the Sturgis Ambulance Service from a part-time BLS service to a full-time ALS service that is well respected throughout the state of South Dakota. Shawn has served on numerous advisory committees and has testified to the South Dakota state legislature on EMS related bills and issues.
Chief Scott Lensegrav says, “Shawn is of sound character, compassionate, disciplined, resilient and has a great sense of ambition. Her adaptability leadership, problem solving, and teamwork will make her an excellent candidate for the National Fallen Firefighters Scholarship Program.”