Media Contact: Debra Dennis;
For immediate release — Sept. 23, 2022
(DALLAS) — Recognized for their ability to persevere through adversity, the newest group of Erin Tierney Kramp scholars has been selected. The scholarship, distributed by the Dallas College Foundation, honors the life of Erin Tierney Kramp, a venture capitalist investor, who fought a courageous battle against breast cancer only to succumb to the disease in 1998.
The latest Dallas College students to earn the scholarship are Jonalda Basha, Daisy Donjuan, So My Ho and Lynn Mounce. These scholars have endured numerous battles. Their experiences have made them stronger and more determined — traits that embody what the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement scholarship program stands for — courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Kramp created a collection of intimate videos left for her young daughter, focused on the life lessons she knew she would not be around to impart herself. Her inspiring story was told on numerous national television programs including “20/20” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
This year’s recipients, who have faced numerous challenges themselves, are honored for their courage and commended for their perseverance in maintaining their focus on their goals for their education and careers. In reclaiming their narratives, these students know that their pasts have helped drive them forward into who they are today and who they want to become in the future. They realize that education is critical to reaching their goals.
“As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, many of our recipients continued to struggle with medical and financial hardships caused during the pandemic,” said Michael Brown, President/Founder of the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation.
“With reduced work hours and increased medical expenses for them and their families, many people found it difficult to cover their basic necessities (food, rent, transportation) and struggled with their focus on academic pursuits. Remote learning and isolation from others caused mental health stresses for some. Throughout the pandemic, the ETK Foundation supported needy recipients with increased amounts of funds available through the ETK Emergency Grant, the Continuing Education Grant and access to mental health professionals for emotional and mental health support.
“In addition, the ETK Board stood ready to provide much needed support through a listening ear. Despite these ever-changing conditions, the ETK Foundation selected four outstanding individuals who exemplify the cornerstone of our scholarship program — courage and perseverance in the face of adversity — and [who] represent incredible additions to our already stellar ETK scholarship family,” Brown said.
The scholarship pays for tuition and books for up to six consecutive semesters at Dallas College. Recipients may, if they meet certain criteria, continue their education by applying for the Kramp Transfer scholarship at Southern Methodist University or Austin College. The three returning Kramp scholars from 2021 are Jummai Adikwu, Jaqueline Martinez and Victor Barraza.
Biographical Sketches of This Year’s Recipients:
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Jonalda Basha is one significant step closer to becoming a doctor. Basha is pursuing an advanced technical certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at Dallas College El Centro Campus. She already has a medical degree from Albania but had to pursue other occupations when she moved to the United States because she needed more academic and clinical training to meet the licensing requirement for a foreign medical graduate to practice medicine here. Basha comes from a family of health care professionals who served as role models in helping to expand her credentials in medicine.
However, when her credentials were not recognized here, she sought out alternatives. “My mission is to become a physician,” Basha said. “As my husband and I strive to achieve and maintain our American dream, we faced the harsh reality of integrating into a new culture and society. Here, we were not able to pursue our original careers.” As a result, she and her husband worked low-skilled jobs that gave them an opportunity to earn a living and rebuild their lives and careers. In Albania, Basha was a volunteer for the Red Cross and was inspired watching health care providers assist refugees who had escaped the war-torn Republic of Kosovo.
“Medicine is a constantly advancing field, and I will need to keep on top of it throughout my career. I envision myself as part of a team in a hospital or clinical setting that gets the greatest privilege to evaluate, counsel and treat medical conditions for (the) vulnerable,” she said.
Basha was accepted into El Centro’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program and calls it a career field that offers many options to excel and grow. She wants to help the most vulnerable people with health care needs. “My long-term goal is to earn a degree as a physician’s assistant. This career combines my Albanian education and my passion for medicine. I envision myself as part of a team in a hospital or clinical setting.”
Despite a five-year break from college, Daisy Donjuan finished her first year in El Centro’s Paralegal program as an honor student. A full-time caretaker for her ailing mother, she knew she would have to work hard to keep up and did just that while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. “College was different, but I adjusted quickly,” Donjuan said. “I realized how much I missed school and learning.” After graduating high school, she had no job experience but applied at a retail store where she was hired on the spot. After three months, she became the store manager. “I accepted and I managed the store, employees, shipments, orders, bank deposits and all the paperwork for five years. I learned to handle a lot of things on my own — good and bad,” she said. The experience boosted her confidence.
Donjuan has also found success outside of her work. In addition to heading the children’s ministry at her church, Donjuan has worked in the president’s office at Dallas College El Centro Campus, where she is also a peer ambassador and tour guide. She is currently working as a legal assistant in a downtown Dallas law firm. After she graduates with an associate degree from Dallas College, she wants to obtain an undergraduate degree in psychology and enroll in law school. “I like the fact that you have a set of rules, and you have to know the law and you have to apply the law. I love learning. It’s going to be a challenge, but the law appeals to me.” Donjuan would like to attend Southern Methodist University School of Law.
So My Ho
So My Ho
Childhood trauma doesn’t always end with childhood. For some, like So My Ho, the nightmares and fear carry into adulthood. So My said she witnessed horrific physical abuse inflicted on her older siblings and often hid to escape her abusive mother. As she grew older, she, too, would feel the violence and unprovoked anger hurled by her mentally disturbed mother. “If my mother had a bad day, I was going to have a worse night.” But So My was determined to find her own peace and break free and end the cycle of familial abuse. At 10, she joined her school’s band and learned to play the French horn. “I wasn’t necessarily excited about it. But it saved me and gave me an opportunity and an excuse to be away from home. Music would enrich me in a lot of aspects of my life. I learned how to socially interact with others. It gave me a lot, and for that I am grateful.”
When she enrolled at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, she joined the marching band. It, too, provided a refuge. “There was always something to do — a three-hour practice kept me away from home, and I really appreciated being a part of something. It was nice to do something I liked.” So My also coached and assisted new band members, coaxing away their insecurity until they felt vital and accomplished.
She found work at Starbucks and was promoted to barista trainer where she led and taught the business to new team members. After one year, she was promoted to the shift supervisor leadership team. She learned that by helping others, she was helping herself. She volunteered for extra shifts at Starbucks so that she could save enough money to leave her abusive home. “I made a promise to myself to keep working hard to never return home.” She enrolled at Dallas College and worked with a therapist to understand and get past some of the emotional trauma that marked her childhood. “It wasn’t easy,” she said. “It was the most fulfilling thing I have done in 22 years of living.”
After graduating from Dallas College, So My plans to transfer to Southern Methodist University and pursue a career at NASA. She also wants to pursue a master’s degree in physics. “Education is very important. Education is the one thing that can give you a fulfilled life. Financially, it’s hard to live on your own, but if you have a degree and you’re passionate about what you do, you can be self-sufficient,” So My said.
Eastfield and Richland Campuses
Lynn Mounce grew up in a family that was no stranger to struggle. With an immediate family member addicted to both alcohol and gambling, money was tight and anxieties high. In 2006, shortly after high school, she enrolled in college in Pennsylvania thanks to a family friend who cosigned her student loan. She completed two years before learning that the financial support had abruptly ended due to personal issues the cosigner was having, leaving Mounce displaced and in arrears.
“I had to end my schooling after that year. This left me with a debt owed directly to the school as well as a mountain of student loan debt — both of which I was not prepared to pay.” Her biggest trauma was losing her brother in 2019 following a kidney transplant. “He had multiple complications,” Mounce said. “He had been in the hospital six months. This was difficult for all of us to process.” It left her family reeling from the loss and his young daughter in her family’s care.
With the support of her husband, Mounce finally was able to pay back what was owed to her previous school. She received her transcript in 2021 and immediately enrolled as a full-time student at Dallas College. It was a chance to start over. “I am taking many of the classes I took in 2006 to 2008 all over again because it has been so long since I’ve been in school. I had lost so much.” She is currently a stay-at-home mother to her two children, ages 4 and 6. Her goal is to transfer to the University of Texas at Dallas or Southern Methodist University to obtain a degree in chemistry and later enroll in the Texas Tech pharmacy program. “I attended college previously and I was a double major in chemistry and forensic science, but I had to stop because of financial challenges,” she said. “But the Kramp scholarship is going to help me be an example to my girls — that no matter what, you can still follow your dreams and achieve what you want out of life.”
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About the Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation
The Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Foundation was founded in 1997 by the Dallas/Fort Worth Private Equity Forum, comprised of more than 50 private equity firms. The forum was created to support and enhance the private equity community in Dallas/Fort Worth and has members throughout the United States. In February 1999, the ETK Encouragement Foundation established a permanent scholarship endowment with the Dallas College Foundation.
About Dallas College Foundation
Dallas College Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 whose mission is to advance students’ economic mobility and strengthen our community by partnering with donors and philanthropies to help Dallas College rise to new heights of equity, innovation and excellence. Since its creation in 1973, the foundation has raised more than $83 million in private donations and distributed more than $42 million in scholarships and grants to support thousands of students at Dallas College.
About Dallas College
Dallas College, formerly the Dallas County Community College District, was founded in 1965 and consists of seven campuses: Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland. Dallas College offers online learning and serves more than 125,000 credit and continuing education students annually. Dallas College also offers dual credit for students in partner high schools and early college high schools throughout Dallas County. Students benefit from partnerships with local business leaders, school districts and four-year universities, and Dallas College offers associate degree and career/technical certificate programs in more than 100 areas of study, as well as a bachelor’s degree in education. Based on annual enrollment, it is the largest community college in Texas.