Where are they now?
OOIDA checks in with 'impressive' list of scholarship winners

By Clarissa Kell-Holland
staff writer


Recently, the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Committee decided to embark on a project to contact previous scholarship winners to find out how the financial support they received has helped them in their educational endeavors.

The letters the scholarship committee has received back are nothing short of “impressive,” according to Scholarship Committee Chairman Bill Rode of Eagle, ID.

“When we started the scholarship committee, we knew we wanted to help our young people achieve their dreams,” Rode told Land Line. “I think what these young people have done with that money has far exceeded our expectations. They all have been truly deserving of our support.”

During the past 12 years, the OOIDA Scholarship Committee has assisted 55 students in achieving their dreams of going on to college or trade school. Scholarship recipients include the children, grandchildren and legal dependents of dues-paying OOIDA members.

Below are excerpts from some of the past scholarship winners, who updated the scholarship committee about what they are doing now.

Scholarship winner Tiffany Schlough said that although her dad is no longer trucking, she still looks for the OOIDA sticker on the sides of the trucks she passes when she is traveling.

She graduated from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN, in 2008 and is teaching first grade in Appleton, WI. She said she makes sure her students appreciate what truckers do.

“I make sure to explain how goods get to us in our homes,” she said. “It never starts from the store. We go through it from the beginning and how (truckers) travel around the country.”




Veterinarian to-be
Danyel Wynn of Fort Collins, CO, was awarded a scholarship from OOIDA in 2006-2007. In her recent letter, she wrote that she is now in her first year of veterinary school at Colorado State University.

Wynn said her father still drives, and she’s doing her best to “surpass his expectations and make the best of my life that he has given me.”

She said her best advice for future scholarship winners is to “live below your means, work hard, don’t settle, and make a huge difference.”


Future lawyer
Scholarship winner Kevin McCoy’s letter was the first one the scholarship committee received after requesting information from past recipients.

After completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he is now currently in his second year of law school at Duke University School of Law in North Carolina. He writes that he is concentrating on patent law.

 “I hope to be able to focus a portion of my practice on technologies related to the trucking industry, fostering research and development in that area and improving the trucks and accessories used by owner-operators today,” Kevin wrote. “I would also love to dedicate some time to the industry through pro bono work to ensure hardworking owner-operators are given the best opportunity to provide for their families.”



Flight nurse
In 2003, OOIDA scholarship winner Tabitha Palmer Smithers graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.

Her career path now takes her high above the clouds as a flight nurse. She wrote that her job is to provide critical care and rapid transport to those involved in a traumatic event.

“It was something I aspired to do and knew the competition was steep,” she wrote in her letter. “My advice to those who are just starting their careers or looking to advance themselves is ‘just do it.’ ”


Future physical therapist
Ashley Bugbee graduated in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and psychology from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO. She has already applied to a few graduate schools and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in physical therapy. She said her father, an owner-operator, has had an enormous effect on her life.

“His dedication to his job has had a large influence on me,” she wrote in her letter. “I am a dedicated member in everything that I am involved in and really try to go the extra step with everything I do.”




Medical researcher
Back in 2003, James Scott was named one of the scholarship recipients. He has since received his Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, and is currently working on his master’s degree in medical technology there. He said one of his biggest accomplishments is his involvement as third author on a research paper about breast cancer.

He said he has an appreciation for the trucking industry because his dad, Ken, an OOIDA member from Lancaster, OH, still drives.

His advice for young people deciding what their future career paths should be is to take their time “to get the decision correct; it’s an important one.”



Deadline for new applicants: Feb. 1, 2011
Rode said he credits OOIDA President Jim Johnston for recognizing the importance of establishing a scholarship fund to help young people pursue their educational goals.

“When we first started this, we all saw the importance of a scholarship fund, but we had no clue in the beginning how we were going to pay for it,” Rode said. “Jim stepped up and graciously offered his support to us, which has allowed us to grow this fund.”

The past two years, Shell Rotella has also recognized the importance of the scholarship fund and has donated $20,000 to the scholarship program.

The next deadline for those wanting to apply for an OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship will be Feb. 1, 2011. Applications are available online at ooida.com or through the OOIDA Foundation. Applicants must submit a transcript and 500-word essay.

Rode admits he has read the letters from scholarship recipients over and over again.

“I couldn’t be any more proud,” he said. LL