MARK NELSON: I'd like to invite a few of our recent scholarship recipients to talk about what that support has meant to them. Austin and Shannon, you have a pretty unique story that I imagine our audience would love to hear.
AUSTON BOYLE: Thanks, Dean Nelson. Shannon I truly appreciate having the opportunity to be here tonight and to be able to tell our story. And unsurprisingly, my and Shannon's stories are similar. We both grew up in blue-collar, single-income households with families that worked hard and always pushed us to excel. My mom demonstrated to me every day what hard work looked like as she worked six days a week delivering mail and as a bartender on the weekends. Both of our families supported us in every way they could, but unfortunately, helping us financially through college just wasn't something either had the means to do.
Thankfully, though, scholarships were available through both the school and Army ROTC that allowed us to continue our education. When we graduated, we both served six years in the Army, during which time I deployed to Afghanistan and Shannon to Qatar. After coming back from our deployments, I somehow convinced Shannon to marry me. And we both decided that we had accomplished what we had wanted to in the military and that we wanted to pursue careers in business. And we knew the best way to make that transition was by getting our MBAs.
And for us, Johnson was an easy choice. The close-knit and supportive community felt like family to us. It reminded us of the culture that we were leaving in the military. I don't want to speak for both of us here, but even though we knew Johnson was the perfect FIT the idea of both of us leaving our jobs and taking on two sets of tuitions was daunting.
SHANNON BOYLE: Of course, I completely echo what you said and will restate thank you for inviting us tonight. I remember vividly the call informing me I was being offered the Park Fellowship. And the importance of our scholarships was underscored when we found out that after both quitting our jobs, we would be expecting our first son to join us at the end of my first semester. Financial security became not just a priority for us but an imperative.
And I was questioning the plan until the outpouring of support. There's nothing quite like a 600-plus-person cheering section inflating my confidence with kind words of encouragement and love that feels like family. I think it's fair to say that not only did the scholarships empower us to be where we wanted to be around people who inspire us, but the Park Fellowship I received also provided a structure for me to grow into the next version of myself that I'm happy to be-- still a servant leader, but with a better understanding of how to apply that role in corporate America and as a working mom with a support network that circumvents the globe.
I was speaking with a classmate of mine last night who was also a Park Fellow, and she put it perfectly-- that the scholarship helped her invest in herself, but it was a very visible way the school invested in her too, which was a backstop to the self-doubt that inevitably creeps up from time to time on this journey. I think it's safe to say that in the end, we're exactly where we needed to be and happy almost every minute of it.
AUSTON BOYLE: You mean every minute. But I'll just finish by saying thank you again to everyone, and go Big Red.
MARK NELSON: Thanks so much, Shannon. Thanks, Austin. I so remember you carrying that baby around the atrium, and it was wonderful getting three for the price of two.
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To illustrate the impact that Drive for 75 term scholarships have, Dean Nelson invites Johnson scholarship recipients Shannon Boyle, MBA '19 and Austin Boyle, MBA '19 to explain why, after their military service and deployments, they chose Johnson and what it meant to know that Johnson had invested in them.