Sarah Slates certainly has the will and now she’s found the way.
About three years ago, Slates moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania to be with her husband, who was stationed at Fort Knox after he completed his U.S. Army basic training.
“When we first moved here, I thought, ‘Maybe someday I can go back to school to get my master’s,’” she said.
For two years, Slates, 27, worked with students in Nelson County Public Schools through AmeriCorps. When she went after a human services job and was not considered because she lacked enough background in the area, she realized she needed a master’s degree.
Then, she heard about UofL’s Military Spouse Graduate Assistant Scholarship, which offers free tuition, a graduate assistantship and a $1,200 stipend. She applied and was accepted.
“I’m more than proud, I’m grateful,” she said. “It’s been a life-changing opportunity.”
Slates is pursuing a Master of Science degree in social work and a Master of Arts degree in women’s and gender studies. She already has a degree in Spanish from Seton Hill University and plans to build her career on the three specialties.
UofL is the only university in the state offering a graduate assistantship scholarship for military spouses, said Renee Finnegan, executive director of military initiatives and partnerships. College scholarships for military members are plentiful but educational opportunities for their spouses often fall by the wayside, she said.
UofL’s School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, which sponsors the scholarship, selected Slates as the recipient.
“Our office is happy to support the university’s strategic initiative to establish partnerships with the military,” said Beth Boehm, vice provost for graduate affairs and SIGS dean.
Slates’ husband, Chris Nitkiewicz, is thrilled for her.
“It’s an exciting opportunity because she wanted to go back to school but we didn’t have the money,” he said. “She’s really doing what she wants to do with her master’s program.”
As for the university, “I love it,” Slates said. “Everyone I’ve come in contact with has been very welcoming. I couldn’t ask for more.”