In 2021, five hardworking students received scholarships from The NATSO Foundation’s Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship, which is awarded to industry employees and their children based on academic merit, community activities and a short essay.
The recipients all demonstrated their connections to the truckstop and travel plaza industry and said the industry has played an important part in helping them forge their career paths and find success. Meet this year’s recipients:
HAYLEE COX, PILOT TRAVEL CENTER, #476 WOODHULL, ILLINOIS
For Haylee Cox, receiving a Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship makes her feel like she has a direct connection to the industry rather than just through her dad. “It’s very special to me,” she said.
The scholarship has changed Cox’s perspective of what is and isn't possible in her academic career. “Coming to U of I is not cheap. Receiving this scholarship lets me know that I can do this,” she said.
Cox thanked those who contributed to the scholarship program. “It feels like such an honor to be awarded this scholarship. I feel like all of my hard work is paying off. It’s a great motivation for me,” she said. Having a connection to the truckstop, travel plaza and travel center industry has shaped Cox’s educational and professional goals. Growing up, Cox said she saw that females were unrepresented in the travel plaza industry, but women still found ways to be leaders at Pilot. “Seeing the female managers at Pilot made me feel like I am still capable to be in STEM, which is a male-dominated field,” she said.
MIKAYLA FECHNER, KWIK TRIP INC.
Receiving a NATSO Foundation Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship meant a lot to Mikayla Fechner because she cares about her education and giving back to the community. “The scholarship helps alleviate financial pressure so that I can achieve my goals and get my education to help make the world a better place,” she said.
Finances have always been a concern for Fechner. “I’m very passionate about being a respiratory therapist. Receiving the award has opened up a lot of possibilities for me. It’s so calming,” she said, adding that the financial award has been a relief. “Now I can help the community and be an overall better person.”
The Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship program creates new opportunities to those with ties to the industry. “I know it helps a lot of people achieve their career goals and make them great members of society. I would thank them for giving me this opportunity to get this scholarship as it has made a great impact on my life,” Fechner said.
Fechner added that Kwik Trip has influenced her life. “Kwik Trip recycles. It’s into electrical charging and promotes healthy eating. Having healthy options for drivers is very good for my career because we want people to be healthy so that they can decrease the risk of chronic respiratory conditions,” she said. “The travel plaza industry continues to contribute to the well-being of society.”
MOLLY MURRIN, ROADY’S BLACK CANYON STINKER TRUCK STOP #45, CALDWELL, IDAHO
Molly Murrin has always struggled with accepting awards, but the Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship has meant a lot for her. “I was so excited when I found out I got the scholarship,” she said. “The scholarship award has shown me what I can do when I put my mind to it.”
Murrin added that every cent she receives for her college career helps. “So, now I can think about going to graduate school or begin working as a speech or physical therapist,” she said.
The truckstop, travel plaza and travel center industry has helped shaped Murrin’s educational and professional goals. “It has given me a lot of opportunities. Working for a truckstop enabled my dad to pay for me to go to a private school,” she said.
RACHEL PRUITT, PILOT TRAVEL CENTER #1146, PECOS, TEXAS
The NATSO Foundation’s Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship covered all of Rachel Pruitt’s tuition except for $52.
“So, I won’t have to take out any loans. This is the first time I haven’t had to take out a loan or pay out of pocket to cover my tuition. So, this is a really huge deal,” Pruitt said.
After completing the application, Pruitt said she wasn’t sure she’d receive the award. “I didn’t go to college in one go. I dropped out for a while. Receiving the scholarship is reaffirming to me that I did the right thing by going back to school,” Pruitt said.
Receiving the scholarship will help Pruitt finish her education. “I only have this semester and one more. So, the scholarship is really going help me make it to the end,” she said.
Pruitt said her bosses at Pilot have been very supportive. “They rearrange my work schedule to accommodate my class schedule. They encourage me to do my best in school, and they don’t get upset with me for putting school first. I don’t think I would have gone back to school if I wasn’t in this position,” she said. “Being in this management position has really helped me and changed my life.”
AUSTIN ROFE, TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA CORPORATE
The Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship has given Austin Rofe the opportunity to focus his time and energy on school. “I don’t have to worry about money. I can focus on being the best pharmacist I can be,” he said.
By not having to work, Rofe said he can focus on research and some extracurricular activities with his pharmacy professors that he wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
Rofe said those who support the scholarship help people achieve their dreams. He added that his con- nection to the industry has helped shape his character. “With both of my parents being in the industry, it shows me if you have a good support network around you, you can accomplish anything you want.”
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