27-year-old aspiring teacher wins $20,000 scholarship from U.S. Bank

October 15, 2021

Tacoma, Wash., non-traditional college student Kimber Jones is a winner of the semiannual program.

Kimber Jones hasn’t had a conventional path to college. However, receiving a $20,000 grand prize scholarship from U.S. Bank is making her journey a lot easier.

Kimber got the call that she won while at her job at a long-term care and rehabilitation care facility, and she didn’t know how to react to the news. “Initially, I was like okay, that’s kind of cool,” she recalled. “Then, after the first two minutes, I was like ‘wait, I won something?’”

After she had time to process the news, she was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to go home and tell her family. “The first family members I told were my grandparents, and I got so much love and support.”

The award is part of the U.S. Bank Student Scholarship Program, which has provided more than $500,000 in funding to college students over two decades. The scholarships are awarded in two rounds each year, with a sweepstakes drawing for a grand prize winner and a first-place winner. Ximena Ruiz from Rio Rancho, N.M., won this spring’s first place prize of $10,000. Ruiz is currently studying at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

As part of the application process, students take a series of online personal finance lessons covering student loans, credit scores and more. The bank this month is also adding an eMentoring program, which will match U.S. Bank employees with students to further discuss financial education topics in a 1:1 virtual setting. Applications for the fall 2021 scholarships are now open.

Growing up with little money, Kimber initially decided not to go to college after she graduated high school because she didn’t want to take out student loans. At the time, she didn’t think she would be eligible for scholarships.

Fast forward nine years, she decided to start looking at scholarships thanks to encouragement from a friend. “I’m at a place in life where I feel that I can finally start working toward my dream, which is to be a teacher,” Kimber said.

She enrolled in an online program at Grand Canyon University to reduce costs, planning to pay for everything herself by working full-time throughout college. The $20,000 U.S. Bank Scholarship will now cover half of her tuition for the next four years, helping her graduate with minimal debt.

“Financially, this scholarship is making everything a lot easier,” she said.

Kimber, who has a love for learning different cultures and languages, plans to teach high school in Japan through the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. The program, which is managed by the Japanese government, sends young professionals from around the world to teach in public and private schools throughout the country. Kimber is already fluent in Japanese, one of three languages she studied in high school.

“Language is my passion,” she said. Earning a degree and entering the JET program “will allow me to experience a new way of life I wouldn’t necessarily get while teaching in the states. “

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