The legacy of the Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship continued in 2017 when The NATSO Foundation presented five students with ties to the truckstop and travel plaza industry $5,000 each to put towards their studies. The Bill Moon Scholarship Program has been changing lives for more than 20 years, awarding more than $300,000 in scholarships to date.
Susan Ridenour, an employee at Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza and a recipient of a 2017 scholarship, said she is grateful for everyone who supports the scholarship program. “They really are making a difference in the lives of people who have goals and dreams and following them but can’t necessarily afford it. It is really such a big help,” she said. “They really are changing lives.”
This year’s recipients include truckstop employees as well as dependents of truckstop employees. The winners of the NATSO Foundation’s 2017 Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship are:
Drey, a student at Vanderbilt University, started working at Love’s Travel Stop #490 in Jasper, Tennessee, in January 2016. He said the year-and-a-half he has spent in the location has given him a number of lessons. “Working has taught me a variety of life lessons like time management, accountability, teamwork, and even financial skills like saving and budgeting, but the most important skill I learned from my job regards communication,” he said.
Throughout middle school and early high school, Drey was terribly shy. “I struggled to talk to strangers, dancing in front of people, playing sports, and even simply calling to order pizza. It debilitated me, and I missed out on a lot because I was so shy,” he said. “My first day working, though, I realized that food service harbored no sympathy for shyness.”
He eventually became more comfortable and eventually reached a point where he could talk to anyone and everyone. “This increased sociability helped me at my school where I lead several clubs and sports, during scholarship interviews, and even just making more friends and connections,” he said. “I always joke around that if I can handle being yelled at by an angry trucker while making his double-meatball extra-cheese sloppy messes of sandwiches, I can talk to anyone.”
Growing up in a small town in Missouri, Duncan learned that the word truckstop was synonymous with hard work. Her father managed Hoods Service Center and has shared his commitment and determination with Duncan. “Throughout his dauntless journey in striving for success, he taught me several valuable lessons that guided me to my current ambitions,” she said.
Duncan is studying engineering at the University of Missouri Science and Technology. “Hard work can get you anywhere. To me, this is a truth,” she said. “The clothes on my back, the roof over my head, and the food on the table were all proof of how my father’s hard work in the truckstop industry had paid off. Benefiting from his efforts only inspires me to strive higher and work harder.”
The scholarship is especially meaningful because it comes from the truckstop and travel plaza industry, Duncan said. “The truckstop has been a part of my life all the way through so to see that they care and want to give back to my education means a lot to me,” she said.
Duncan said she would like to use her skills within the truckstop industry, and credits it for the success she has achieved so far. “My father, and the truckstop he works for, have shown me that I can excel at anything I chose,” Duncan said. “Given the opportunity and resources, I will make a positive impact on the engineering field because with enough hard work, success is the only option.”
Ridenour loves serving in the restaurant at Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza in Sacramento, California. She gets to meet people from all over the country and enjoys the regulars, too. “I like to treat my customers like they’re family coming in,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing them a service serving up a hot meal and keeping a full cup. Just like they do all of us a service by hauling in goods to all of our stores day in and day out, and not always in the best weather or road conditions.”
Ridenour is a student at Sacramento City College and is studying to become a nurse. She said her around-the-clock work in the truckstop industry has prepared her for the hours nurses keep. “If the truckers work, we work, holidays and all, just like my future RN job will be, because the hospitals never close,” she said.
Ridenour said she will have a hard time leaving the industry when the time comes. “One of my regulars asked me the other day if I was going to stay serving at the restaurant after I became an RN, and I teared up at the idea of leaving because I have not even thought that far ahead, but my regulars are sure proud of me and all of my accomplishments,” she said. “One of them told me he is waiting for me to be a nurse so he can get sick.”
With parents who have worked as long-haul truckers, Rofe, a student at Ohio Northern University, has always felt a connection with the truckstop and travel plaza industry. “They would been gone for weeks at a time, which means they were constantly using truckstops and travel plazas. Truckstops and travel plazas helped my parents greatly as they drove,” he said.
Rofe said his parents taught him that it is important to work hard. “Through their hard work as truck drivers, they showed me that I too can become successful through my hard work,” he said. “So, through the truckstop and travel plaza industry I feel my goals were shaped to be something very high to strive for.”
Now Rofe’s mother works at TravelCenters of America’s corporate office. “Overall, the truckstop and travel plaza industry has greatly impacted my life and has allowed me to grow into someone that will be a very hard worker and become very successful,” Rofe said.
Truck World Inc. has been a part of Schubert’s life since she was born. Her father has worked at the location for 20 years. “Growing up at Truck World, I have been a part of driver appreciation days, blood drives and the local fire department spaghetti dinners. I’ve cleaned showers, picked up trash and washed dishes. My connection to the industry has been life long,” she said, adding that her connection has given her a strong work ethic.
What’s more, it was passing out juice and cookies at a Truck World blood drive that helped her choose her major in health sciences. “I got to experience people helping people and also the medical side of blood giving. I helped multiple years and my interest grew,” she said.
She also had the opportunity to work with her father at Truck World to implement a healthier menu at the restaurant.” I was given the task to pick healthy foods for the buffet,” she said. “The restaurant manager took my recommendations and along with the new menu it has been mostly positive feedback from the drivers and local customers.” The scholarship will help Schubert pursue her studies at Cleveland State University.
Apply for the Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship
Truckstop and travel plaza employees and their families can apply for the 2018 Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship. Applications are available at https://www.natso.com/natsofoundation/billmoonscholarship.
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