The Inside Self-Storage Scholarship Program encourages educational pursuits and rewards the hard work of students closely affiliated with self-storage. Entrants are required to work in the industry or have immediate family members employed by self-storage or related companies. Dozens of qualified candidates applied, including high school students and seasoned professionals. This year’s scholarship winners demonstrated an outstanding commitment to completing higher studies and a determination to succeed.
In January, Inside Self-Storage awarded five $2,000 scholarships to:
Andrea L. Hart—Store America
Melissa Ann Hoehler—S&A Services LLC
Chad Plunkett—Capco Steel Inc.
Nicholas Walker—Kiwi II Construction Inc.
Andrea L. Hart
Major/Field of Study: Elementary Education
College/University: State University of New York, Oneonta
When she was young, Hart wanted to become a babysitter. Her goal has evolved since then but still involves children–she intends to be a teacher. Following graduation from Canastota (N.Y.) High School, she plans to enter State University of New York Oneonta for a degree in elementary education.
An honor roll student, Hart is also captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, president of the art club, a member of the Teen Aids Task Force and New Ventures Program, and last year was voted into the junior prom and homecoming court. During the summer, she volunteers at a vacation Bible school and is a buddy at the local Special Olympics. She also finds time to participate in the Reading With Partners program.
Hart, who comes from a family of six, has worked since she was 15 to save enough money to buy a car, she says. Her jobs, in keeping with her first love, involve children. She has worked at the Canastota Children’s Council Summer Enrichment Program and in the Child Watch Room at the YMCA. She was a kindergarten intern and a volunteer for the Homework Club at the local elementary school. In her sophomore year, she was lauded by the Lions Club with its Young Leaders in Service Award.
“I have been very lucky to have always worked with children,” she says. “This generous scholarship will help me avoid the pressures of financial hardship while keeping up my studies.”
Melissa Ann Hoehler
Major/Field of Study: Elementary Education
College/University: University of Oklahoma
Educating the young is firmly in Hoehler’s sights. A sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, she has aspired to teaching since she was a child. The oldest of five children, she is the sole provider for her tuition and livelihood. Initially, she chose business as her major, believing it a practical investment in her future. After a stint of business classes, she was convinced to follow her first love—elementary education. “I realized it’s not about the money,” she says. Due to her class load and volunteer commitments, she can only work on weekends while attending school.
Hoehler is a member of Chi Alpha, an on-campus ministry that performs charity work. She has served meals to families before football games and assisted residents of a veterans’ living center with meals and laundry. In addition to her academics, Hoehler is committed to 68 hours of non-credited field experience that includes 30 hours a week tutoring. She devotes another eight hours weekly tutoring a first-grader. In her volunteer work at a shelter for at-risk youth, she works with children ranging from infancy to 18.
“I have established a relationship with many of these children and they feel comfortable opening up to me,” she says. “I have a passion for working with children and dream of making a positive impact on the lives of many.”
Major/Field of Study: Film
College/University: San Antonio College
Plunkett sums up his early life with one word: “survivor.” His parents divorced when he was 6 and, while in the custody of his mother, growing up wasn’t easy. “Movies were my only escape from the harsh realities of my life,” he says. At 13, he moved to Texas to live with his father, developing hobbies such as snowboarding, hunting and fishing. He discovered travel, which enhanced his interest in history.
In eighth-grade, Plunkett began playing football and continued the sport through high school. “The discipline and being part of the team showed me how to work well with others, set goals and keep striving for excellence,” he says. He also assisted the high school theater department.
Plunkett decided in his senior year to follow his passion for filmmaking. Now a freshman at San Antonio College, he is studying radio and TV film. He participates in the college film club and is making a film on the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Studying film in England for a semester is one of Plunkett’s goals. He hopes to continue his education at the University of Southern California. He has already made a start on his life’s ambition by making a marketing film, which was shown at the Self Storage Association and Texas Mini Storage Association tradeshows. Part of the film showed the step-by-step construction of a five-story building.
Seeing the hard work his father applies to his life helps Plunkett strive to meet his own goals. “Being the son of a self-made entrepreneur has shown me anything is possible in life,” he says.
Major/Field of Study: Business
College/University: University of San Diego
Walker grew up around self-storage. Since he was 3 years old, his parents have taken him to storage expos and tradeshows. His father is co-owner of Kiwi II Construction, Murrieta, Calif., which supplies steel components to the industry.
Walker graduated from Hemet (Calif.) High School with highest honors. He was involved in the student council and served as class secretary. During his last two years of school, he assisted his legally blind grandfather with day-to-day living and online stock trading.
Before entering the University of San Diego (USD), Walker interned with Kiwi, estimating projects with the company’s new computerized program. The experience exposed him to the competitive practices of the business world.
Since entering USD, Walker has devoted his time to his studies, resulting in a 4.0 GPA freshman year. “After I graduate from college, I hope to bring new knowledge and different ideas to the self-storage business,” Walker says. “My role model is my father. He has shown me it is always possible to overcome any situation no matter how much the odds are stacked against you.”
Major/Field of Study: Child/Adolescent Psychology
College/University: State of New York, Stony Brook University
Waterman will be the first member of her family to receive a college degree when she graduates from State of New York, Stony Brook University. She is in her third year majoring in adult and child psychology. Although most of her time is dedicated to working and school, she helps raise money for cancer awareness and participates in a school-supplies program for Iraqi children. She also finds time for hobbies that include crafts and photography. Persistence, hard work and ambition are the reasons she has achieved an honors-level GPA, she says.
Waterman’s job at a storage facility taught her to provide customers with trust and reassurance. Her responsibility for maintaining the upkeep of the store has given her self-reliance and confidence in many areas including academics.
The prospect of helping others with her psychology degree drives her to achieve excellent grades. Waterman enjoys communicating with children, and her ambition is to give each child the time needed to improve and to overcome challenges.
Waterman’s decision to enter the psychology field was also fueled by a long-time family friend, Wayne Rothwell, a psychologist for more than 30 years. He inspired her to enter the field of mental health, she says. “If not for his advice and support, I know I would not be where I am today—ready to start a future, ready to impact other lives.”