2018 Awards Speech – Bitseat Getaneh

bernies 03 Jul , 2018 0 comments News


Good evening everyone. I am honored and humbled that the Bernie Scholarship Board of Directors has asked me to speak on this beautiful evening. My name is Bitseat Getaneh, and I’m a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. First, I appreciate the Bernie Foundation for selecting me as a recipient of your scholarship. So many students feel hopeless at the thought of not being able to afford a college education, and many give up looking for sources of assistance. Therefore, I’m very grateful for this foundation for giving students an access to opportunities that makes it easier for students with low-income family to get support. I would also like to say thank you to my family, Ms. Aja, Ms.O, and Ms. Parmelee for their continuous love, guidance and support. And especially my mom, without you by my side I wouldn’t have made it this far. I hope in years to come you will be proud of me in my journey and success.

When people think about America they see it as a land of opportunities, full of resources and choices; that was the ideal I had before I came to America. However, that dream was shattered into pieces because of unpleasant life and death experience I faced. My story begins on my first day in America, I came with nothing but dreams and hopes for the future. It was my very first night in the U.S, new house and new environment, but that day in the middle of the night the gas exploded, and the apartment I was staying in caught on fire. When I woke up the room was covered in flames. As the flames expanded, I rushed to find the exit door through the collapsing apartment, trying to save my life. I ran from one corner to the other. I felt the heat of the flames burning my face, but I still couldn’t find the door. I started praying out loud, “Please, God, save me!” After a few seconds, I found myself outside the apartment. I still don’t remember how I got there, and I did not yet know that both my hosts did not escape, but passed away in the apartment that night . My body was covered with third-degree burns. I wasn’t able to go to school for about four months. It was the lowest time of my life, and it was an excruciating experience to this day.

I didn’t understand why I had to go through that and I was even mad at God for putting me in that situation. But one day I read a quote by Charles R. Swindoll it says, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” that’s when I started to understand that everything happens for a reason and God was trying to show me that death is imminent and that I should embrace life like there is no tomorrow. People should always look forward to the future and not dwell on the pain they faced.

Every individual has a story to tell and I hope my story motivates you to think that life is a valuable thing to hold on to and that every single day counts. Even though, I had a rough start that will not decide where my future takes me. And so I will be attending Bucknell University in the fall of 2018 with a full-tuition scholarship. I will use this scholarship money to pay for my room and board. This second chance I’m given by God; I want to use it making him happy and be his channel to help people. So I want to conclude by saying this “Wherever life takes you, you have to have the courage to stay stronger than your struggles, Don’t let it drown you.” Thank You ALL!

2018 Awards Speech – H. Sluyter

bernies 10 Jun , 2018 0 comments News

I am a mother of 2 in my late 20s. I have a degree in paralegal studies and business management. Currently, I’m pursing a degree in law.

At least once a week I hear “How do you do it?” from my friends, colleagues and family.

This last year was one of the hardest, but most rewarding years I’ve ever had.

March 2017 – I found out I was pregnant. Parents know the 1st 3 months is the toughest.

August – Started a new semester with 3 classes. One I had to drive to Baltimore after work.

September – Relocated grandma to Montgomery County. At this time I am approaching my last trimester.

October – I planned and had my baby shower.

December – Bought a new car, completed finals, and had my baby.

January – Began buying a new home. Started another semester w/3 classes, baby only 3 weeks old.

February – Returned back to work, received a promotion.

March – Had surgery and closed on my home.

April – Baby started daycare.

This Month – I moved and completed finals.

I still was able to assist family and friends, with law issues, credit and resumes.

I stand in front of you with A’s and B’s.

So how do I do it? How do you make all this happen?


Strategic time management.

Short term sacrifices for my long term dream.

Late nights.


Internal will to succeed and not give up on my investment.

Dedication – reminding myself that these hurdles will soon be over and my classes would still be there.

Being extremely resourceful.

I was also very strategic when I asked others for help. The help I had was very limited, so I had to use it wisely.

Learning from my failures.

I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell them, you can do it too. If you’re dedicated and really want something, no one or anything will get in your way. I hope I inspired you. Keep your head up and do not give up. Thank you for listening.

Awards Celebration Event – May 17, 2018

bernies 30 Apr , 2018 0 comments News

Join us for supper plus an opportunity to meet and learn about the deserving
scholars whom The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program supports. Please join
the celebration as our guest.

Thursday, May 17, 2018
5:30 p.m. Dinner followed by Program

Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20950

Keynote Speaker and Community Service Awardee
Ruby Rubens

Full Invitation

Successful 2018 Friend Raiser Held—Additional Opportunities Aplenty

Dear Important Friend and Supporter of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program:

On March 14, The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program (“The Bernie”) held a successful and moving “Friend Raiser.” I write to tell you a bit about it (for those not able to join us then), and also to ask you to save the date for our next big event—the Bernie Scholarship Awards Celebration on Thursday, May 17, 2018, 5:30-8:30 pm in Rockville.

At our Friend Raiser, friends and supporters of The Bernie joined for dinner and an update from key members of our Board and, most importantly, from three of our wonderfully inspirational Bernie Award Scholars.

Gracing the Friend Raiser with their presence were Bernie Scholars Maryamawit Abate (a sophomore in nursing at Montgomery College); Yvette Hammonds (a single mom employed in Community Health and a new homeowner; supported in part by Bernie Scholarship Awards, she successfully completed her Bachelor’s degree and is now working on her Master’s) and Kimberly Hanson, the daughter of a single mom, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in biology with help from The Bernie Scholarships and is now working on her Master’s; she is also the newest member of our Bernie Board. Each, in her own right, is extraordinary in her demonstrated persistence, achievements, grace and presence. Each is committed also to “giving back,” and each is a fine representative of the more than 300 Bernie Scholars who have received over 450 Awards over the 22 years of our program’s history (and counting) totaling over one-half million dollars (and counting).

Friends and Supporters in attendance at the Friend Raiser also were brought up to date about key findings of the third-party Program Effectiveness Studies completed by our expert outside consultant through the use of Award Recipient Surveys and other data. Those findings noted that over two-thirds of our Scholars (all in low-income Montgomery County families residing in subsidized housing) are women, almost 70% are African-American (with an additional 14% Latino), and that 87% of our Scholars confirm that The Bernie Scholarship Award is and has been important in their ability to enroll and remain enrolled in their higher learning pursuits. Indeed, as our Scholars also re-confirmed at the Friend Raiser, this kind and amount of “closing the financial gap” funding is critically important and undoubtedly accounts for another key finding of our Study: That 98% of our Scholars (as opposed to far lower percentages of those without our Scholarship support) persist and complete their educational goals and dreams.

Our Friend Raiser program was brought to a close by Bernie Tetreault (who shares more than just a first name with the program), who described both the reasons he founded the program and continues to seek funding opportunities available to help support and keep it growing. (More information about all of which may be found on our website at www.berniescholarships.org.)

To that end, we are very pleased to announce that if you are also moved and want to add your financial support to those who pledged theirs at the Friend Raiser, you may do so using the links below:


And, as a “special incentive” for you to do so quickly, please know that every donor who completes and returns the attached Donor Card within five days of this Update will be listed as a Sponsor of the “2018 Friend Raiser Scholarship” that will be awarded during our upcoming Awards Celebration of the new 2018 Scholars.

So, please do consider, complete and promptly return our Donor Card, and plan on joining us on May 17 at our Awards Celebration.

We do so very much appreciate your continuing support of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, as do our 300 Scholars to date and scores more to follow (with your continuing and generous support) in their footsteps.

NOTE: Please think of people you know who may like to learn about The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, so we can invite more people to our upcoming free Awards Celebration on May 17th. This would be very helpful in raising the program’s visibility.

Featured Award Winners

bernies 13 Mar , 2018 0 comments News

Michael Abraha just finished his junior year at Mount St. Mary’s.  He is majoring in political science.  He would like to pursue a MBA in business management.  He believes that best way to influence the world is to have wealth in the right hands.

Tiffany Dicks is currently a sophomore at Montgomery College. She is pursuing her Associates degree in graphic design. She is currently a freelance graphic designer.

Serena Spickler is a 2017 graduate of Watkins Mill High School. She will be attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the fall.  She plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.  She would like to combine her interest in math, science and design to create prosthetic limbs for people in need.

Chevonne Mansfield: It Takes Dedication and Hard Work

bernies 13 Mar , 2018 0 comments News

Moving is always a disruptive event even for adults. But for a young girl in school it can be especially traumatic. One day you’re in a comfortable place, in a familiar school with friends who know and like you; the next, everything’s different and you have to start over again. Definitely not something you want to do often. In Chevonne Mansfield’s young life, though, moves were all too common. In her elementary and middle school years alone, she moved five times to different locations on Long Island, attending multiple elementary and two middle schools. The way she overcame these disruptions and achieved academic and career success is a testimonial to her brains, strength, and the support of her family.

Chevonne was a child of teenage parents who separated when she was young. Nevertheless, her mother and grandmother continually impressed upon her the need to work hard in school and to get as much education as possible. She took this to heart and compiled an exemplary record in school. That, plus financial support for scholarships like the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program (BSAP), contributed in a big way to her success.

Her mother remarried when Chevonne was 12 and she eventually moved to Wheaton in Montgomery County where she enrolled at Albert Einstein High School. Her distributed family now includes 11 siblings­­—eight in Maryland and three in South Florida.

Ms. Mansfield was always willing to challenge herself in school. She had taken two honors courses in middle school in New York, and at Einstein and later at Watkins Mill HS in Gaithersburg, completed a number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including Spanish her favorite subject. Her combined HS GPA was 3.4, unweighted, with a weighted average of over 4.0.

She hoped to go back to New York for college­—still considering it as “home”—and was accepted and awarded a partial scholarship by St. John’s University (SJU) in 2000. Even with that aid, she still needed supplementary financial help to afford St. John’s where yearly tuition was over $20,000, even 16 years ago. In this early Internet era, getting information about scholarships was much harder to find than it is now. But a helpful guidance counselor at Watkins Mill tipped her off about the BSAP. Application processes were also paper-intensive, but Chevonne overcame these difficulties and eventually became a three-time Bernie Scholarship awardee. In addition, she received Pell grants and an NAACP scholarship and participated in a work-study program. The bottom line—and it’s impressive—is that Ms. Mansfield was able to get both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees without incurring a single cent of student loan debt.

Building on skills and credits earned in her HS Spanish AP course, Chevonne began as a Spanish major at St. John’s with the goal of becoming an interpreter at the United Nations. But she soon realized that working as an interpreter might not be her calling. One of her work-study assignments was in the SJU Athletic Department where she was introduced to the field of college sports management and displayed a natural affinity for it, leading to her eventual career field choice. She spent a semester abroad at the University of Leicester in the U.K. in a program dedicated to International Sports Management. While there, she helped organize, develop and implement a co-ed intramural basketball league.

Chevonne graduated from SJU in 2004 with a B.S. in Communications. She looked at a number of job possibilities—turning down an offer for an entry level position at a major TV network—but couldn’t find the right fit and instead took a Graduate Assistantship in the Athletic Department at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) where she earned an M.S. in Criminal Justice in 2007, compiling a 3.9 GPA with just one B in three years.

Her Master’s degree in hand, Ms. Mansfield embarked on a series of increasingly more responsible jobs in collegiate sports information. From 2007 to 2010, she served as Assistant Sports Information Director (SID) at Howard University. From there she moved south to Birmingham, Alabama, her frequent childhood moves making the adjustment a bit easier. She worked as Assistant Director of Communications for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) until 2011 when she landed the position of Assistant Director for Media Relations for the Southeastern Conference (SEC), one of the most successful and renowned conferences in the NCAA.

Her work at the SEC brought her attention from the founders of the newly formed American Athletic Conference, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was appointed Director of Communications. The conference includes teams covering a broad geographic span of the country, from the U.S. Naval Academy and Temple University in the northeast, to Tulane University and the University of Houston in the south. One of its prominent members is the University of Connecticut Huskies whose women’s basketball team just established a new record with its 93rd consecutive victory.

This geographic dispersion of conference members presents unique circumstances in conveying a unified message to the media and the local communities. Chevonne has two assistants as direct reports. Her team is responsible for outreach PR to the media and conference communities and vendor management, and also is the contact for Women’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, and Golf. In addition to her demanding job, she somehow found the “spare time” to teach a course in Sports Events and Facilities at Johnson and Wales University.

As her career has progressed, Ms. Mansfield has received a number of significant awards and distinctions, including:

§ Graduating from the NCAA Leadership Institute (one of 10 women and 22 overall);

§ Receiving a Rising Star Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA);

§ Serving as a member of the Boards of Directors for CoSIDA and the Association for Women’s Sports Media;

§ Facilitating the NCAA Student Athlete Leadership Forum;

§ Giving the keynote speech at the 2016 BSAP awards celebration; and

§ Serving as a panelist or moderator a host of national conferences or conventions, including the CoSIDA and AWSM conventions and the Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference.

One of Chevonne’s favorite quotes is from golf champion Jack Nicklaus: “Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head. You’ve got to believe.” That pretty much sums up the philosophy that has guided her life since childhood. Rather than complain about frequent moves and other distractions, she confronted and conquered all these challenges, and has already accomplished much both in education and in her career.

But stay tuned! We’ve probably just seen the tip of the iceberg as far as her achievements go. Ms. Mansfield is really a model for all future BSAP awardees to follow—someone who parlayed her talents, motivation, and drive first into a highly successful academic foundation and then into a rewarding career.

In Appreciation: Gene Ford, Sr.

bernies 13 Mar , 2018 0 comments News

Gene Ford, Sr., a long-time donor and supporter of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program (BSAP), has made a $100,000 bequest to The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program. Mr. Ford’s company Mid-City produced thousands of housing units throughout the Washington-Baltimore region that served many low-income residents. He recognized that people were not poor by choice and that housing in itself would not substantially change their lives. As a result, he led the way in adding housing services in Mid-City Developments and the Community Preservation Development Corporation, a non-profit that he formed.

Realizing his sincere commitment to changing the lives of low-income people, The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program honored Mr. Ford with our Community Service Award in 2001. At the awards ceremony he listened to the inspiring stories of those receiving scholarships and recognized that education of these scholars was breaking the cycle of poverty. He became a benefactor of the BSAP until his death and now even beyond.