Four incoming Walden University students were recently awarded a Commitment to Social Change Scholarship in recognition of their accomplishments and visions for the future. Doctoral students Gertha Lusby and J. Paul Shirley each received a $5,000 scholarship, and MS in Education students Joy Bishop and Tracey Esplin each received a $2,500 scholarship.

Applying for a Scholarship
Applications for the 2007–2008 academic year Commitment to Social Change Scholarship will be accepted through May 1, 2007. For more information about the scholarship and to watch videos of four Walden change agents, visit Walden’s Real People. Real Change. Web site.

Gertha Lusby is a member of the TARGET Area Development Corporation, a Chicago nonprofit community development organization. In 2003, she directed a documentary, “Behind the Scene,” which chronicles the experiences of three African-American men recently released from prison and the obstacles they face as ex-offenders trying to rebuild their lives. The film interviewed local politicians, including Sen. Barack Obama, to assess their commitment to sponsoring legislation to help ex-offenders become full citizens. Lusby is pursuing a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences.

J. Paul Shirley will use his scholarship to earn a PhD in Psychology. The retired social worker and the son of a minister has developed online workshops and a Web site devoted to mental health and support for clergy members. Shirley is also the author of a book on helping family members who suffer from borderline personality disorder.

“I am particularly interested in the positive coping strategies individuals with disabilities devise to help deal with the demands of illness,” Shirley says. “My master’s thesis was on the problems these individuals face, but now I am more interested in the solutions they create.”

Joy Bishop, an MS in Education student, teaches at-risk kindergartners in Crawfordsville, Ind. She established a Kids Care Club that baked cookies for nursing homes, wrote letters to firefighters who were at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, and collected suitcases for foster children. She also is her school’s facilitator for Character Counts, a program that encourages trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to touch these young lives,” she says. “Unfortunately, low academic skills often go hand in hand with discipline problems. My plan is to immerse my students in hands-on experiences. We will cook, explore the earth, make scientific discoveries, and read good literature. The underlying theme of our work will be the importance of being caring, responsible and trustworthy people.”

Tracey Esplin, an MS in Education student, has spent her career working with children with special needs. In her first two years, at a separate public day school for students with disabilities, she helped establish a library and raised money for clothing, toys and holiday meals for students.

In her current position, co-teaching students with learning disabilities and emotional disturbances in a public middle school in Gloucester, Va., she is committed not only to teaching her students, but also to advocating for them and helping to change her fellow teachers’ beliefs about special education.

“I am committed to changing many conflicting perceptions of my wonderful students within my school and community,” Esplin says. “By learning more and pursuing my education with the same dedication, I will be able to give my students and colleagues the skills they need to become more successful in their own life goals and endeavors.”

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