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KU awards three Wounded Warrior Scholarships, including two recipients with ties to the School of Social Welfare

Monday, May 12, 2014

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas’ Office of Graduate Military Programs has announced three students have received the University’s Wounded Warrior Scholarship for the 2014-2015 academic year. Additionally, KU is honored to announce the Bill and Shanthi Eckert Wounded Disabled Veteran Scholarship, which directly contributes to a specific Wounded Warrior Scholarship. 

These scholarships are awarded to assist injured veterans and affected family members in meeting the financial challenges associated with pursuing a degree at KU. The awardees:

Alex Cataudella, Lawrence, is completing her senior year at Free State High School. Upon the recommendation of her guidance counselor, Cataudella applied for the Wounded Warrior Scholarship as a surviving child of a military veteran killed in the line of duty. Her father, Army Sgt. Sean Cataudella, died while serving in Iraq when Alex was 7 years old. She has been admitted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at KU for the 2014 fall semester. Cataudella dreams of opening an animal shelter one day.

Carol Meza, a native of Pittsburg, joined the Army National Guard in 2007 and survived a severe roadside bomb attack while on deployment to Iraq in 2010. Upon returning to the States she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and determined through counseling and other therapies that her mission in life is to help other veterans struggling to reintegrate into society. Meza has been accepted into Masters of Social Work program at the KU Edwards Campus, where she plans to earn a master’s degree in clinical social welfare and work for the Veterans Administration. She continues to serve in the National Guard while also caring for her 1-year-old daughter, Heidi.

Timothy Hornik, a native of Chicago, is a retired U.S. Army captain and president of the Kansas Regional Group of the Blinded Veterans Association. In 2004, while serving in Iraq as an air defense artillery platoon leader, Hornik was shot and consequently left blind. Despite his injuries, he obtained a master’s degree in social work from KU in 2010 and will pursue a doctorate in therapeutic sciences starting in fall 2014. He plans to use his degree, along with his considerable social work case management experience, to assist and advocate for disabled veterans. Hornik was the initial recipient of the Bill and Shanthi Eckert Wounded Disabled Veteran Scholarship.   

Recipients of the scholarships receive up to $10,000 per year. The scholarships, which are renewable for up to four academic years, provide funds for tuition, fees, books and living expenses while they attend KU.

“We are extremely grateful to the donors who made these scholarships available,” said Mike Denning, director of Graduate Military Programs. “KU is very unique in being able to award these scholarships – you will find very few universities that recognize the sacrifices of injured veterans and affected family members in the same way that we do. These scholarships provide a glimpse into the overall military- and veteran-supportive culture that permeates KU.”   

Graduate Military Programs established the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund in 2012 through KU Endowment. Last year, GMP awarded its first scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year to Anthony Schmiedeler, a former Marine suffering from PTSD, and Jennifer Thornton, the wife and primary caregiver of a disabled Army soldier. Thornton is finishing her first year toward a master’s degree in social welfare, and Schmiedler is graduating on May 17 with a degree in graphic design.

Donations to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the University’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign.

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