The NATSO Foundation’s Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship program is continuing to change lives, and this year, five hardworking students received scholarships they can use to advance their education.
The Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship is awarded to industry employees and their children based on academic merit, financial need, community activities and a short essay.
The recipients said the $5,000 awards will help pay for tuition, but are even more meaningful because they came from the truckstop and travel plaza industry.
Meet this year’s recipients:
Location: Oak Grove 70 Petro; Oak Grove, Missouri
School: University of Central Missouri
Adam Alderman started working at Oak Grove 70 Petro when he was 14. “Working for a truckstop has been a wonderful experience for me and for my training as a teacher,” he said, adding that when he entered college and started his formal teacher education classes, he realized that his work at the truckstop had especially helped him learn how to deal with students.
Working in the truckstop industry has taught Alderman to handle a busy environment and stay calm under pressure. “The truckstop industry is a busy and fast-paced environment that is constantly and rapidly changing, as is the field of education,” Alderman said. “Oak Grove 70 Petro gave me the life skills to be a better quality educator while remaining calm under pressure.”
Being a housekeeper means Alderman has a job that is never quite finished, and there is always something to be done. Alderman said his manager has taught him to not only work well under pressure, but also be patient with others and that it is ok that people don't finish a checklist.
“As a teacher, we set up objectives for our students to accomplish. My motto was that they had to complete all objectives, but after working
in the housekeeping department, I now understand that, at times, completing all objectives isn't the overall goal, but more important is the quality of what was done,” he said. “I now thrive under pressure and can handle multiple tasks at once.”
Although most drivers have good experiences when they stop, there are drivers who have bad days. “Anyone who has worked in or around the trucking industry knows it isn't an easy job. Professional drivers are on the road for long hours and when they stop, they want to relax, refuel and refresh from their drive,” Alderman said. “At times, their stop isn't as pleasant as we hope; their tire went flat and needs repaired, their load was cancelled or changed, or they are just tired and want to sleep.”
When Alderman started at the truckstop, he said he had no idea how to handle upset customers. “As time went on, my training from various sources aided me in this regard,” he said. “I was better able to handle and deal with a driver's anger and eventually became proficient at assisting the driver's initial problem.”
Oak Grove Petro, which was founded by the Moons, encourages everyone to apply for the scholarship, Alderman said. The people he works with were happy to hear he had won. “They were very excited, especially management. It meant a lot that an Iowa 80 employee received something from our founder,” he said.
“Receiving this award means so much to me, more than others realize. This semester has been especially difficult regarding finances,” Alderman said. “There seems to be an endless number of issues that come up. With this scholarship, it lightened the burden tremendously.”
Alderman was at a body shop getting his car repaired when he received the call he had won. “That day had gone so horrible that when I got the call, I felt a relief of pressure and disbelief,” he said.
Location: TravelCenters of America—Tampa TA 158; Seffner, Florida
School: University of Pennsylvania
Anthony Artalona’s mother’s job at TravelCenters of America brought the trucking industry into his family’s lives and has also provided several benefits. “As a result of her job, she was able to provide me with various educational opportunities,” Artalona said, adding that his parents were able to send him to a private high school, Tampa Preparatory School. “The atmosphere is very positive and places a particular value on interactive learning that I don’t think many other schools emphasize.”
Artalona said his mother has also shared all that is she is learning about technological advances in the truckstop and trucking industries, such as new electric Class 8 vehicles, which has helped shape Artalona’s career choices.
“The School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania has a great focus in electrical engineering and electric cars,” Artalona said. “Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, Inc., studied at the University of Pennsylvania, which gives the school recognition in the field he has been extremely successful in.”
Artalona plans to study electrical engineering and the automotive industry and join in the Electric Racing competition. “The competition measures acceleration, endurance, autocross and efficiency. The electric racing team at U-Penn has set a national record in the 0-75 meter in only 3.807 seconds. I am excited to join this team next year and hopefully better my understanding of electric cars and the overall performance of them,” he said.
Artalona’s interests align closely with the future of electric vehicles, which he said will impact the trucking industry in some form. “My mom’s job at TravelCenters of America has definitely had a great impact on my life by helping me better my education and affecting my long-term goals,” he said, adding that he is grateful for the financial support the Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship provides. “The scholarship money will help my parents and myself afford tuition, allowing me to focus solely on my degree,” he said.
Location: Fred's Fuel 'n Food; Gilman, Illinois
School: Eastern Illinois University
Abigail Berns has worked at Fred’s Fuel ‘n Food for the past three years, and she said she has learned so much more than she ever expected from the experience, much of which will help her in her desired career as an elementary school teacher.
Berns has worked as a cashier at the fuel desk, a cashier at the Krispy Krunchy Chicken counter and a stock clerk. Her experience has taught her more about organization, being punctual, handling money and safety related to food.
She has also learned more people skills. “Social skills are a major key to being a cashier. I have assisted customers from many cultures and nationalities and found it to be very interesting,” she said.
What’s more, before working at the food counter, Berns said she was shy and didn’t like being around many people at once. “I have grown to be more social and have gained more confidence through stronger communication skills that I have learned from working at Fred’s Fuel ‘n Food,” she explained.
Berns’ mother, Glenda Futrell, also works at the location, serving as the manager of the property.
Berns said she learned about the scholarship opportunity through her bosses. “They helped me with the process,” she said. “They have guided me and inspired me to go to college.”
“I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to have learned so much from working at a truckstop and look forward to going further in my education and becoming a teacher,” Berns said. “I am grateful to be part of the team at one of the best truckstops in the country!”
In addition to gaining a sense of accomplishment, the scholarship will help with Berns’ finances. “College is expensive and this money will help me so much,” she said, adding that she would like to thank everyone who contributed to the fund. “You’re helping us go to college and inspiring us.”
Location: Jubitz Travel Center; Portland, Oregon
School: Portland Community College
Maryann Ferguson started waitressing at Jubitz Travel Center when she was 19 years old, well before she got married or started a family. “My years at Jubitz have taught me to work harder and smarter and to appreciate what life has to offer,” Ferguson said, adding that now she is 31 years old, a wife, a mother and a soon-to-be college graduate.
Ferguson is using her experience as a waitress to shape her future. “I have learned through my years working at Jubitz that I love taking care of people, and that is what has brought me to my decision to become a registered nurse,” she said. “I believe waitresses and nurses have a lot in common and, in fact, many of my coworkers have moved on to become nurses.”
As a nurse, Ferguson will be able to help people on a daily basis, much like she does now, but on a different level, she said.
Ferguson learned about the Bill and Carolyn Moon Scholarship program through a newsletter at work. “I had been contemplating going back to school for a while to fulfill my dreams of becoming a registered nurse but wasn't sure how to do it since I did not have the funds for school,” she said. “Winning this scholarship means everything to me as I would not be able to go to school without it and I am so very grateful for it.”
When Ferguson got the news that she had received the scholarship, she rushed into work to tell her boss, Chris, because she had helped with the application. “I try not to be impolite by bragging, but I just can't help myself so I have been telling everyone about it and everyone is so happy for me that it warms my heart.”
Ferguson has two daughters, ages two and nine. “My nine year old is just so excited that her momma is going to college and says it is ‘awesome,’” Ferguson said. “She thinks it interesting that I will have homework too and has been asking me a lot of questions regarding school. Now she is talking about when she goes to college, and I am happy to be a positive example for her.”
Location: Love's Travel Stops; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
School: University of Central Oklahoma
Haylee Harris’s connection to the truckstop and travel plaza industry is two-fold. In addition to her father working for Love’s Travel Stops, she has completed two different summer internships with the company. “My first summer I worked in the mailroom where I learned that many things are involved behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly. The mailroom was a great life lesson because it showed me that one person can’t do it all and it’s a team effort,” she said.
The next summer, Harris got the opportunity to work in the marketing department. “Being a youth intern was a great experience because I got to try different jobs I had never even thought of,” she said, adding that Love’s has four customer commitments that have helped her with her goals.
“The customer commitments are great people who care, safe, clean and well-maintained stops, get you back on the road quick
ly, and good value at competitive prices. I have seen these commitments being followed first hand, whether it is in stores or in the corporate office,” she said. “They have shown me how a company says something and they do exactly what they say.”
Harris said the experience also helped her set and accomplish both short- and long-term goals and gave her valuable insight into preparing for the future. “I got to see adults that went to college, graduated and are now using their degree for good. That has helped me know that it is possible to go to college and come out with a great, well providing job for my future,” she said.
“I am proud to say that I have been a youth intern at Love’s and that my dad works there,” Harris said. “The truckstop and travel plaza industry has been a huge help in my future. It has also had a big impact on what I plan to do in the future and my goals.”
Apply for the Bill Moon Scholarship
Truckstop and travel plaza employees and their families can apply for the 2019 Bill Moon Scholarship. The application will be available at www.natso.com/natsofoundation/billmoonscholarship.
Photo credit: Bigstock
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