The NATSO Foundation Awards $25,000 in Scholarships

When Robert Canders, a general manager at Petro Stopping Centers, looks at his employee Demarco Harris, he sees management potential.

When Robert Canders, a general manager at Petro Stopping Centers, looks at his employee Demarco Harris, he sees management potential. Harris started at the location as a porter, cleaning bathrooms and showers, but “his personality was too much to hide back in the shower area, so I moved him to the front as a cashier to get him on center stage,” Canders said.

What’s more, Harris is a part of his school’s honor program, works in student support services and tutors other students. Canders was so impressed with Harris’s drive and performance that he recommended Harris for a Bill Moon Scholarship award, which Harris received.

Harris, a junior studying psychology at Alabama A&M University, is one of five students with ties to the truckstop and travel plaza industry that each received a $5,000 Bill Moon Scholarship award from The NATSO Foundation this year. The scholarships are open to truckstop and travel plaza owners and operators, their employees and their families to further their education.

Victoria Stavish, a student at the University of Montana and a past employee at Muralt’s Travel Plaza in Missoula, Montana, is a repeat winner of the award. She was recently accepted into The University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy last April as a first round pick and started in the fall. She said she is working hard for money for school and appreciates the assistance.

“I worked two jobs this summer averaging about 60 hours a week. I even had one 75-hour week. I am honored to be receiving this scholarship again, and I can’t express in words how much it means to my family and me,” she said, adding that her mother works at Muralt’s Travel Plaza and that this summer she worked at All Events Catering, which is owned by Walt Muralt, who also owns the truckstop.

Recipient Sarah Wilson is the human resources/payroll clerk at the Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza in Sacramento, California. She is also working towards her bachelor’s degree in human development at Oregon State University.

Wilson said she plans to continue in HR once she graduates. “I am fortunate to be gaining experience in my field,” she said. “I really love the balance of both working with people and learning the inner workings of a business.”

Josh Stephenson, a junior at Marshall University, said, “The scholarship takes a lot of stress off myself not having to worry about loans I will have to pay back. It also will take a lot of stress of my parents, who have been paying my way through college.”

Stephenson is connected to the industry through his mother, Glenna Stephenson, who is a division manager at Go Mart Inc. with 29 years of service.

For Jaimee-Jolleen Lilley, the scholarship will help her complete a baking and pastry arts degree at Southern New Hampshire University. Her mother is the assistant general manager at the TravelCenters of America in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The scholarship is named after Bill Moon, who founded the Iowa 80 Group and made substantial contributions to NATSO, actively supporting and participating in industry-related government affairs issues. He served as chairman of NATSO in 1989 and as the first chairman of the NATSO Foundation in 1990.

The NATSO Foundation releases the scholarship application each spring and applicants are judged by an independent review with selections based on academic merit, financial need, community activities and a short essay.


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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