Skip Navigation

UMGC Global Media Center
Marie Gibson

Recipient—2018 Pillars of Strength Scholarship Awards

Marie Gibson said she had just dropped her husband off for yet another medical appointment when her cell phone rang and she pulled over to take the call that she thinks will change her life: She had received a Pillars of Strength Scholarship.

“I cried on the phone,” she said. “I kept crying. This means the world for us.”

In January 2016, her Marine Corps husband was medevacked to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) where he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis with complicated perianal abscess and other inflammatory diseases.  In addition, he was suffering from depression.

With three children, the family has depended on his military pay and he is about to go off active duty. Now Gibson sees the necessity of finishing her college education so she can become a nurse. But at the same time, she must care for the many needs of her ailing husband.

“A lot of what he has is internal and mental,” she said. “I go day by day. When things go well I try to keep a smile on my face and be the supporter I’m supposed to be for him.”

She already is working on a UMUC associate degree.  This scholarship means that she can complete a four-year degree and meet her goal of becoming a nurse with a psychology background.


But Gibson said the best thing about the scholarship is that it will allow her to be a role model and highlight for her sons the need to attain an education.

“I want to teach them how education is important,” she said. “I want to be an example to my sons, not just talk about it, but do it.”