Cicely Thomas, MEd, RDN, LD
2022 Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship
Completing a Doctoral Program at University of North Florida
|“In all of my years of formal education, I have never received a scholarship. Applying for this scholarship was my last attempt to cross the finish line. Actually, when I applied I had no vision of being a recipient. I was desperate because I could not afford to pay for my predissertation course and financial aid was not available for one course. After arranging a payment plan, I finally paid the last of the debt off for that one course within the last month of the semester. As a mother of four, separated from my husband with two children in college, I felt guilty attending school. It was taking me away from my home. My youngest son at 12 years old was recovering from a stroke and I was determined not to be a broken home statistic. It wasn't my plan to raise my children alone, but I was not going to fail just because life twisted in that direction. I remained focused and decided to apply for every opportunity of advancement, position of leadership, and scholarships. I had to believe I deserved to be in a better place. There are no words to describe the amount of joy and excitement I have as a scholarship recipient. Scholarships create opportunities but for me it was an answer to fasting and prayers of desperation. There is a scripture in provers 18:16 that says your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men. I plan to be great and leave a legacy in public health nutrition. Dietitians are smart leaders that belong at the decision making table and that is where I plan to be. Earning my doctorate will help to advance me into the places where public policy and nutrition intervention create change and reduce health disparities that stigmatize our community. This scholarship is the assistance I need. If you want to see change, be the change. If you are wondering what the organization is doing on your behalf, ask yourself what are you doing to advance the organization. You are the organization.”
How did you learn about the availability of the Foundation scholarship that you received?
In desperation, I was searching all opportunities to receive financial assistance. I have applied for several funding opportunities over the past three years. This was simply an act of faith. I completed the application for this award after reviewing The Academy's scholarship page.
What motivated you to apply for a Foundation Scholarship?
A will to survive motivated me to apply for this scholarship. Failure is not nor has it ever been an option for me. I was motivated by the thought of not completing my doctorate degree. I was motivated by the four children that I take care of every single day. They have witnessed my defeat but they have never witnessed me quit and they never will. They have seen me at my worse but I have always fought to stay abreast. I would be a hypocrite to give in while encouraging them to be their best. There is no description suitable to define my internal motivation. I just know that I can't fail. That in itself keeps my mind thinking of ways to continue moving forward. I have 22 years in public health and I have yet to settle down. I am a life learner and I am determined to grow.
How will the scholarship funds help support your continued success within your educational program?
I have committed 5 years to this process. I am in the last of the hours of the program, I have persevered. There is no way I am stopping at this point. This scholarship is confirmation for me. It confirms that my prayers were heard and stored up for this moment. This scholarship is proof that believing and asking in faith is the key to unlock the doors that separate us from life changing resources and opportunities.
What advice do you have for your colleagues about seeking out and applying for Foundation funding opportunities?
My advice would be even if you don't think you are eligible apply. Even if you think you are not good enough, apply. Apply in faith and do your best to be prepared for the yes. All you need is one yes. I applied to many funding opportunities and the one yes was more than I could have expected.
Scholarship and Award Application and Timeline Information
All applications and timelines for Foundation funding opportunities are made available electronically within the Foundation’s application portal. Generally, the scholarship applications are available from mid- February to mid-April, most award and grant applications are available from December to February, and fellowship opportunities are posted as they become available..
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With Your Help, We Can Do Even More
Our Foundation is the only charitable organization dedicated exclusively to supporting nutrition and dietetics professionals by empowering them to help consumers live healthier lifestyles. Our Foundation does not receive any portion of member dues and is funded solely by donations. Please consider making a gift today to support our Make It a Million Scholarship Campaign that will help us to award one million dollars in scholarships annually to Academy members, students and dietetic interns at all levels of study.