Shirlee Draper and Loan Tran received these prestigious awards for their
stories of perseverance,
and outstanding academics
“I was having a hard time finding the positives in
my life and then I found this
scholarship program. I liked what the scholarship stood for,” says Loan. “At first, I didn’t
think I had a chance, but felt obligated to complete what I started. The requirements
seemed to be talking about me so I gave it shot. I was so excited and in disbelief when I
was chosen, but am thrilled to have this opportunity to continue my education and fulfill
my dream of going to law school.”
Loan Tran is of Vietnamese decent
grew up in a household raised by aunts, uncles
and her grandmother. After barely passing high school, Loan attended community
college to continue her education, but dropped out to join the U.S Army.
, Loan was discharged from the Army
forced to support her family
financially while suffering bouts of depression and mental illness.
circumstances pushed Loan to
enroll herself into beauty school in order to support
Taking a position as a manicurist, Loan built
a clientele that
urged her to go
back to school.
he registered for class
at the College of the Desert where she
classes with above average marks.
plans to transfer to
California State San Bernardino as a Criminal Justice and English major, Loan
stand as an example
for those who experience a difficult upbringing, but
have dreams to
succeed and achieve.
Loan Tran, the second
is serving her community by acting
as a voice for those who share similar experiences.
Shirlee Draper is a single mother
and sole supporter of
, two of whom
have special needs. Born into a patriarchal religious polygamous order known as
Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Shirlee
has always fought for her right to
education. Prior to her assigned marriage
received her Associates Degree.
Societal and religious pressures forced her to
put her education on hold.
children and years of questioning authority, freethinking and defying the odds, Shirlee
broke free from her FLDS community.
She used her experience to launch “Project
Catapult,” which mentors those
have left the FLDS community
and have no education and few skills to navigate mainstream society
the social work program with the University of Utah and is working on her Bachelor’s
degree. She maintains a 4.0 grade point average while juggling two part time jobs. Her
goal is to pursue a Master’s Degree
in Social Work with a concentration in Policy and
and to offer comfort, advice and mentorship to those in her community.
“I am very honored and humbled to receive this scholarship,” says Shirlee
. “The nature
of the scholarship really means a lot to me. It’s about women holding out their hand to
help other women. Women need to know that they can be empowered as well.
grateful for this opportunity and very excited to continue being an advocate