BY DAMON ALLEN AKIN
Greenwood Gearhart has been a proud partner with the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) for many years, dating back to the organization’s inception and its founder, Ralph Nesson. Over the years, the firm has grown its support with the organization, the culmination of which resulted in the founding of the Mary Ann Greenwood Endowed Scholarship this year.
The establishment of the Mary Ann Greenwood Endowed Scholarship in 2019 means not only the first endowed scholarship in the history of ASPSF, but the product of continued support from a community that strongly believes in the agency’s core values and mission. Mary Ann, a native of Pocahontas, Arkansas and an active participant in the Northwest Arkansas community, is a fitting namesake of the Scholarship. The inaugural scholarship grants will be awarded to aspiring graduates in Randolph County, home to the Mary Sallee Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Sallee, Mary Ann’s mother, was a beloved home economics teacher in Pocahontas for many years and, like Mary Ann, a champion of the organization’s cause.
It only made sense to award the first-ever grants from the Endowed Scholarship to two outstanding Pocahontas locals. Rachael Gardner and Cynthia Nishimura are the physical embodiment of commitment and dedication, juggling single parenthood to teenage children and full-time work schedules, all while maintaining excellence in the classroom.
Gardner, a Randolph County Scholarship four-time award winner, is currently enrolled at Black River Technical College (BRTC) and will complete her Associate of Arts in December 2019. Following her time at BRTC, Rachael plans to pursue a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Arkansas State University with a career goal of working in child advocacy. Throughout her education, she has worked full-time as a housekeeper at a local hotel and currently serves as a desk clerk at Old Davidsonville State Park in Randolph County. Regardless of her busy schedule, Gardner has maintained a 3.35 cumulative GPA all while raising a 14-year old daughter.
Nishimura, a Randolph County Scholarship seven-time recipient, is also enrolled at BRTC and will complete her Associate of Arts in December 2019. While studying, Cynthia has maintained a 32-hour work week as a Certified Nurse Assistant at the Randolph County Nursing Home. She plans to continue work and her studies in the medical field as she pursues a Bachelor’s in Nursing. Throughout her studies, Nishimura has kept a 3.44 cumulative GPA and is mother to a 13-year old daughter.
Greenwood Gearhart’s core value to provide lifelong learning extends beyond the walls of the firm. Founder Mary Ann Greenwood instilled the belief that continued support of the surrounding community and partnerships with charitable organizations are key to sustaining a positive and healthy organization. The firm is thankful for the opportunity to support such a worthy cause and hopes to instill a lasting impact on those who might benefit from its continued support of charitable organizations in the Northwest Arkansas community and beyond.
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