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Military Spouse Set to Earn STEM Degree with Full-Tuition Scholarship

A headshot of Sallan Francis with a blue background

When Sallan Francis first heard about a potential full-tuition scholarship at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), she knew she had to seize the moment. As a military spouse, Francis has often found her personal and professional goals pushed aside but she's ready for that to change.

"After putting myself on the back burner, I decided it was time to do something for myself," said Francis. "The opportunity to apply for the scholarship came, and I decided to take the chance. It was my 'let's go for it for Sallan moment.'"

And she's glad she did. Francis was chosen as the recipient of the 39th full-tuition scholarship for military spouses, through a longtime partnership between Operation Homefront and SNHU. She plans to earn her degree in computer information systems online at the university.

Francis said the scholarship will allow her to better herself and provide more for her family.

A Scholarship From Operation Homefront

On Friday, Jan. 20, Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create strong and stable military families, teamed up once again with SNHU to host a virtual Homefront Celebration event for military spouses. These events bring spouses from the same region together to not only network and create new relationships, but to also celebrate one another.

Sallan Francis and her children with her husband on a video call on Christmas morning

At each celebration, a full-tuition scholarship to SNHU is awarded to a deserving military spouse.

"I was shocked, to say the least; first, me winning something is unheard of, but winning a scholarship is beyond words," said Francis. "This scholarship means a lot. Being able to go back to school…is amazing."

Together Operation Homefront and SNHU continue to change military spouses' lives for the better.

"SNHU and Operation Homefront have worked together since 2014. We share a common belief that military families, who give so much on behalf of all Americans, should be celebrated," said Rachel M. Tischler, a senior director at Operation Homefront. "Our partnership paves the path to a brighter future for deserving military spouses."

Leonard Bell, a military veteran, and career advisor and adjunct at SNHU who spoke at the virtual celebration, agrees. He is also a military spouse and knows very well what other spouses experience. Bell believes SNHU's partnership with Operation Homefront aligns with SNHU's priority of transforming students' lives. He said it opens doors for military spouses interested in returning to school, many of whom have been challenged previously in earning their degrees due to military life.

"The scholarship speaks to changing the trajectory of someone's life and their family and community," Bell said.

Tischler agrees. "Having the opportunity to pursue a degree in computer information systems will make her career aspirations a reality and offer her the chance to feel the pride that comes from achieving a goal that has felt out of reach," she said.

Growing with the Tech Industry

Francis has always wanted to go back to school. She's excited to work towards this goal and help her move forward into the industry she hopes to work in. It was her passion for building a new career that made a big impression on Bell.

Sallan Francis with her husband and sons

"Her heartfelt words on how much the scholarship means to her brought me to tears," he said. "She advocates for her entire family, and now she is advocating for herself. Her stating how this scholarship will help her achieve her career goal also stood out."

Francis has been aware of the expansion of technology over the last few decades and wants in.

"In an age where everything is on a computer, it is the way of the future, and I would like to be part of that," she said. "It is a workforce where it's in constant demand."

Focused on earning her bachelor's degree in computer information systems, Francis wants to better understand the ins and out of this ever-evolving industry. She hopes to use her degree to provide knowledge to others and help them to understand the technology they use, ensuring they are safe and productive in their practices.

"As technology progresses, so does growth, and being a part of such an industry will definitely be life-changing for me," Francis said. 

Not only does she hope her bachelor's degree will make her a force to be reckoned within the tech industry, she hopes it will also help her achieve some personal goals.

"My personal goal is to give myself a level of independence to be able to make a financial contribution to my family's way of life," she said. "That feeling of knowing that you have finally completed something that you have always wanted."

'Education Empowers'

Francis comes from an island where education wasn't always easily accessible, making her degree all the more important to her. She thinks it's essential for career success in a desired field and overall mental wellness, especially for military spouses.

"Education empowers military spouses," said Francis. "While our spouses are fulfilling their duties, we are doing our part at home."

Having a college education opens new career possibilities — and given so many military families experience frequent moves throughout their service member's career, it's important to have that extra leg up when looking for new employment. Francis knows this all too well as she and her family have moved many times for her husband's service with the U.S. Army.

Sallan Francis and her husband Despite the challenges, Francis loves being a military spouse. She said it's been an adventure, from meeting new people to seeing new places and learning new cultures, but she is ready for her next adventure in earning her degree.

And with her husband's support, she is more than prepared. "He knew how much going back to school meant to me personally, and he was just happy that I would be able to realize one of my goals," Francis said.

And now, with the support of her family, Operation Homefront, SNHU and the military spouse community, she is ready to see her goals through.

"Education gives you the opportunity to stand out in a world where unless you have something different to offer, you blend in," she said.

Online. On campus. Choose your program from 200+ SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.

Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.