Women On Par

2014 EWGA Women On Par ® Scholarship Recipients

Shirlee Draper and Loan Tran received these prestigious awards for their remarkable stories of perseverance, strength 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 and 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. After three year s , Loan was discharged from the Army where she was forced to support her family financially while suffering bouts of depression and mental illness. Her unique circumstances pushed Loan to enroll herself into beauty school in order to support herself. Taking a position as a manicurist, Loan built a clientele that urged her to go back to school. S he registered for class es at the College of the Desert where she completed several classes with above average marks. With plans to transfer to California State San Bernardino as a Criminal Justice and English major, Loan hopes to stand as an example for those who experience a difficult upbringing, but have dreams to succeed and achieve.

Just like Loan Tran, the second scholarship recipient 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 her four children , two of whom have special needs. Born into a patriarchal religious polygamous order known as the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Shirlee has always fought for her right to education. Prior to her assigned marriage , Shirlee received her Associates Degree. Societal and religious pressures forced her to put her education on hold. After four 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 , especially teens, which have left the FLDS community and have no education and few skills to navigate mainstream society . She ’s enrolled in 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 Advocacy 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. I am grateful for this opportunity and very excited to continue being an advocate for my community."