|Monday, October 6, 2008
Susan Thomas to promote scholarship Wednesday at UW
Susan Thomas, wife of he late U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, will visit the University of Wyoming to promote a new foundation that will provide educational opportunities for the state’s youth.
She will also meet with a UW freshman who is one of 13 students who was awarded a scholarship from the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation this fall.
At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Wyoming Student Union, Thomas will meet with Stephanie Calfior, a 2008 Laramie High School graduate who is attending the University with a scholarship from the Foundation.
“I’m very excited to meet her,” Thomas said.
The meeting is to congratulate Calfior for continuing her education and to promote the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Formed earlier this year, the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation will give particular focus to Wyoming’s at-risk youth population by providing scholarships to young people who otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t have continued their education after high school.
The Foundation was founded following the death of Sen. Craig Thomas, who passed away at the age of 74 on June 4, 2007, after fighting leukemia.
Craig Thomas had served in the U.S. Senate from 1995-2007. He also had served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989-95.
“It was founded by me after Craig died because I wanted to build his legacy,” Thomas said. “He’s always been about kids and pushing them to succeed. It’s a great program and I know that Craig would be very proud of this.”
Another reason why she created the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation is her experience of more than three decades of teaching kids who need assistance to succeed in the classroom.
“I have taught kids with special needs for 36 years,” Thomas said.
About $300,000 of leftover campaign funds was used as seed money for the foundation, which is allowed under the Federal Elections Commission.
According to program guidelines, the Craig and Susan Thomas
Offer scholarships to those who may not qualify for major scholarship programs, such as Hathaway or other programs,
Sponsor leadership awards to individuals in Wyoming who have inspired and challenged the state’s youth to reach their goals, and
Offer assistance to organizations and groups that support the foundation’s goals.
To date, the foundation ahs given scholarships to more than a dozen high school students this year, Thomas said.
“We have given scholarships to 13 high school students who, probably otherwise would not have gone to school,” she said. “They don’t meet the Hathaway guidelines, but they want to continue their education, whether it’s vocational, cosmetology, whatever.”
Thomas said she mentors the scholarship recipients while they attend school and she has given each of them a telephone number that they can call at any time.
“They all have a little secret phone number they can call when they need help,” she said.
To encourage high performance in the classroom, the scholarships will only be granted on a semester basis and the recipients will have to reapply each semester to receive their money, Thomas said.
For those who would like to apply for a Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation scholarship, the deadline for the 2009 spring semester is Nov. 15.
In addition to awarding scholarships to 13 Wyoming students, the foundation has given a Leadership Award and a $2,500 prize to Craig Falkman of Gillette.
Falkman is the Juvenile Program Coordinator for Personal Frontiers Inc., an outpatient substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents and adults in Campbell County.
Thomas said the Leadership Award is bestowed on an adult who has “gone above and beyond the call of duty” for at-risk kids.