The Bill Moon Scholarship: Changing Lives One at a Time

The legacy of the Bill Moon Scholarship continued again in 2013 when five students received $5,000 each to put towards their studies.

The legacy of the Bill Moon Scholarship continued again in 2013 when five students received $5,000 each to put towards their studies.

For nearly 20 years, the Bill Moon Scholarship Program has been changing lives, awarding over $250,000 in scholarships. Every year since 1993 The NATSO Foundation has awarded scholarships of $2,500 each to selected industry employees and their children to help offset the cost of a college education. Change came in 2013 when the NATSO Foundation Board of Directors elected to raise the amount of the scholarships to $5,000 each.

Recipients said that not only do they value the financial aspect of the award, they also value the source. The origins of the Bill Moon Scholarship Program can be traced back to 1989 when the Mason-Dixon Truck Stop Operators Association set aside $5,000 for an industry scholarship program. In 1993, the Northeast Truckstop Operators Association made a $5,000 contribution and Carolyn Moon added an additional $10,000. The NATSO Foundation began awarding scholarships to industry employees and their families the same year. This year’s winners include traditional and non-traditional students who are working hard to earn their degrees.

Meet This Year’s Winners

Jerry Bodkins
Jerry Bodkins, a technical support specialist at TravelCenters of America, is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration at Indiana Wesleyan University. Bodkins is in his junior year, but the bulk of his credits have transferred in from his time in the United States Army, where he worked as a Russian Linguist.

“I am a non-typical college student and have spent many years working hard with what often seems like little recognition of that effort. For people that have that type of life experience, it means a lot to be recognized for the things you have done or are doing because we realize how rarely this happens,” Bodkins said.

Bodkins started working for TA in 2000 as an entry-level diesel technician. “I worked hard and became a Master technician and was in charge of training in our shop in Youngstown, Ohio, for several years. Then I spent a couple years working as a technical trainer in our training department, where I taught electricity air brakes and HVAC classes. Now I operate a 24/7 technical assistance center that helps all 2,000-plus technicians in all of our locations when they need more information or guidance while performing a repair on a truck.”

Bodkins said it was his involvement at TA that led him to pursue his degree. “As my jobs have changed over the last couple of years and I have had more and more contact with the corporate-level employees, I noticed that there was a bit of a communication issue that needed to be addressed. When the bosses asked me why I had decided to go back to school at this point, I explained that I needed to learn to speak their language. Everyone thought it was quite the clever joke, but it was the truth. There is a vast difference between the corporate world and the shop, and I think that taking what I am learning now and immediately using it to better understand the new environment I find myself in is the most exciting part of it.”

For Bodkins, receiving the scholarship from the truckstop industry makes it more meaningful. “I have spent a large part of my life trying to help keep the truckers out there safe as well as the other motorists,” he said. “It is good to have the industry that I have loved give some of that love back.”

Daryll Carlson
Daryll Carlson is entering her freshman year at Stanford University and plans to study environmental science. Carlson’s father is a maintenance manager at the Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza, where he has worked for the past 10 years. “This is very meaningful to me, as my dad works in the travel plaza industry so it is a big part of his life. Not only does this mean a lot to me, but also to him,” Carlson said.

Carlson said that the scholarship will make paying for college much easier and that it was an honor to receive the award. “It means a great deal to know that my hard work has paid off in this way,” she said.

While at Stanford, Carlson said she is excited to meet new people with diverse cultures and backgrounds and to explore academic interests in a way she couldn’t in high school. “It is exciting knowing how much I will be able to learn and grow over these next four years,” she said.

Parth Detroia
Parth Detroia is entering his freshman year at Cornell University. He plans to study economics andbusiness and pursue a career in strategy consulting. Detroia's mother has worked at the Wendy’s at the Pilot Travel Center in Knoxville, Tenn., for the past nine years.

Detroia said he appreciates that the truckstop and travel plaza industry is investing in students. “There are not many industries willing to put their money where their mouth is in helping employees and employees’ families obtain a solid education. I will never forget my roots and will definitely consider the travel plaza sector for my intended strategy consulting career,” he said.

Detroia added that the Bill Moon Scholarship is an opportunity to help finance his dreams. “My career goals require a college education, but the cost of a good education is tremendous. It means so much to me to know there are caring organizations out there that help promote and finance higher education,” he said.

Linda K. Eamick
Linda Eamick was at work in the gift shop at the Tucson Truck Terminal in Tucson, Az., when she received the phone call telling her she received a scholarship. After hanging up, she and her co-workers shared a lot of hugs and even a few tears of joy. The reaction was fitting, Eamick said, because she sees her co-workers at the truckstop as much more than just fellow employees. She has worked at the truckstop since 2002 and has become close with everyone there, she said.

“I have gained an extended family. Everyone I work with is amazing. My regular customers are also like my family. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with,” she said. “My coworkers and supervisors have always been very supportive of my educational goals. When I told them I was applying for the Bill Moon Scholarship Award, they were very excited. It only seems fitting that I would receive this award with the help and support of my extended family at the truckstop.”

Eamick is finishing her degree in business management at the University of Phoenix. “I have been in school for four years. This is the first scholarship I had ever applied for. Receiving the award helped me to prove to myself that if I work hard and persevere, I will be rewarded with great things not only through my education but also through my career and my life,” she said.

Victoria Stavish
Victoria Stavish is a repeat winner of a Bill Moon Scholarship award. She said receiving it this year was especially helpful. “It seems like going into college as a freshman, the opportunities to learn about and apply for scholarships are endless. But once you are in college, it becomes harder to find scholarships to apply for,” she said.

Stavish is entering her sophomore year at the University of Montana and is studying pharmacology. To help pay for school, Stavish was working 50 to 60 hours a week over the summer, but she still needed extra help. “The day before I received the call about winning the scholarship, I was in a bit of a crisis. I needed to accept some financial aid soon, but I really was trying to do everything I could to avoid taking out another loan this year. I decided that I was going to have to and there was no way around it, but then the next day I was told about the scholarship and I felt weight lift right off my shoulders,” she said.

Stavish said the scholarship allows her to work only one day a week during the school year so she has more time to focus on her degree in pharmacology.

“I am so grateful to be able to be a part of this organization in my own little way and to make you guys proud,” she said. “I am passionate about what I am learning and know that I am on the right track.”

Stavish’s mother, Lori, works at Muralt’s Travel Plaza in Missoula, Mont.



Apply Now For The Bill Moon Scholarship

Truckstop and travel plaza employees and their families can apply now for the 2014 Bill Moon Scholarship. Applications are available here. The deadline is May 1, 2014.



This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazineStop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations.

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