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Trudgers Fund

Funded by
1 winner$1,000
Next Application Deadline
Nov 10, 2025
Next Winners Announced
Dec 10, 2025
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Addiction struggles, but currently sober
Education Level:
Financial Background:

Many students are familiar with the struggles of drug and alcohol addiction. It can be difficult to stay in school and be successful while actively using. Those who have overcome these struggles deserve to be celebrated. Living a sober life and putting education to use can bring numerous life-changing experiences and opportunities for growth. The Trudgers Fund is aimed at supporting students as they strive for success in school and in their personal lives after struggling with addiction.

This scholarship is for low-income undergraduate students who have experienced struggles with their own alcohol/drug addiction, have taken time away from or never pursued higher education, and are seeking to obtain an undergraduate degree to enhance their lives.

To apply, write about your experience with addiction and how you would like to use your education to help others.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published May 13, 2024
Essay Topic

Describe your experience with addiction, highlighting what it was like for you, what happened, and how your life has changed since being sober. How would you like to use your education to help others?

400–600 words

Winners and Finalists

Winning Application

Kurtis Riener
Chabot CollegeUnion City, CA
My journey through addiction was a subtle one. At first, no one noticed, especially not myself. With time, those closest to me began to take notice, and gently, tried to nudge me in the right direction. I wasn't exactly resistant but I did not take their suggestions to heart. It seemed my slow and steady march towards destruction was not enough cause for alarm. It took something with a little more flair, a red flag that said, "This path is killing you", for me to realize I needed help. In the fall of 2019, an accidental drug overdose caused me to have a seizure in the park and woke me up to the reality that I needed help. I was lucky to survive, but I was just as lucky for everything that followed. Not long after that fateful day, I began my time in a chemical dependency outpatient program. It was there, with the incredible people I met, that I turned my life around. My path toward addiction was an all too common one. I suffered from severe mental health problems including bipolar disorder and anxiety. Desperate for relief from symptoms I had no skills to handle, I turned to self-medicating, primarily with alcohol and marijuana. The drugs and alcohol masqueraded as a support, they brought relief and a smile to my face, but behind the scenes, they were digging me into a deeper and deeper hole. It didn't even occur to me that each draw made the psychosis more real or that every drink made the depression more severe. In the end, I was simply seeking relief, but from all the wrong sources. Through love, support, and human connection, I found the relief I had been seeking, and with it, I found a full life. Overcoming my mental health and addiction struggles was the single most rewarding experience in my life but I would be remiss if I said I had done it alone. It was only through the love and support of my family, friends, and health care professionals that I made it to the other side. I cannot express the gratitude I have for those who gave me a second shot at life, but I will make it my life's work to pay it forward. I am in school to achieve my aspirations of becoming a licensed therapist with the goal to help those who suffer from mood disorders and addiction. While this goal will take many years, I still do what I can today to begin repaying my debt of gratitude. I currently facilitate a mental health support group and an addiction support group, the latter of which I founded myself. I also use my lived experience to sponsor young men who are new to addiction recovery, guiding them as I myself was guided by those who came before me. I have found that there is no rush like impacting the lives of those around you and no drug can compare to the joy and pride I felt the first time I took a sponsee out to dinner to celebrate their one-month sober date. I will always remember the look on my sponsee's face when I asked them how it felt to be sober, the radiance and triumph on their face was infectious. That look assured me I had found my life's calling. It was validation, redemption, and purpose all in one. Recovery saved my life, and I will work endlessly to show those who still suffer that the same is possible for them. Just like sobriety, I will achieve this one day at a time.
Aaron Redis
Southern New Hampshire University- OnlineScranton, PA
I was once a person who struggled with addiction. It was a dark time in my life, and I felt trapped in a never-ending cycle of substance abuse. My obsession started innocently—I was trying to cope with the stress of daily life and the pressure of nursing school. However, what began as a way to unwind soon became an all-consuming habit. I was using drugs and alcohol daily, and my life started spiraling out of control. I lost touch with my family and friends, my grades plummeted, and I found myself in financial difficulties. I was in a deep hole and didn't know how to get out. One day, I hit rock bottom. I lost everything important to me, and I realized I needed help. I went to rehab and began the long journey to sobriety. It was a complex process with many setbacks, but I was determined to turn my life around. I learned how to manage my triggers, how to cope with stress without drugs or alcohol, and how to rebuild my relationships with those who had been affected by my addiction. I am proud to say that I have been sober for over two years. My life has changed in so many ways since then. I have reconnected with my family and friends and have a good job that I love. I have a sense of purpose and can give back to my community. I am grateful for the help I received along the way, and I want to pay it forward by helping others struggling with addiction. I have decided to use my education to help others in the same situation I once was in. I have studied psychology and plan to become a licensed therapist. I aim to work with individuals who are struggling with addiction, helping them overcome their habits and build a better future for themselves. I believe that by sharing my own experience and offering a supportive environment, I can make a real difference in the lives of others. I am also involved in community outreach programs, volunteering to speak to schools and youth groups about the dangers of substance abuse. I want to educate young people about the consequences of addiction and show them that there is a better way to cope with life's challenges. I believe that preventing addiction before it starts can help future generations lead healthier, happier lives. In conclusion, my experience with addiction was a turning point in my life. It showed me the importance of seeking help and the power of resilience. Today, I am proud of how far I have come and am passionate about using my education to help others who are still struggling with addiction. I hope to positively impact the lives of those who need it most and help build a better future for all.
Summer Dry
Lone Star College SystemCYPRESS, TX
Alyson Welborn
The University of Texas at San AntonioSan Antonio, TX
My journey through addiction has been a profound exploration of resilience, transformation, and the unwavering human spirit. Growing up amid a backdrop of addiction within my family, I was determined that my life would diverge from that trajectory. However, circumstances led me down a path I had vowed to avoid. At just 13, a prescribed medication for a shoulder operation introduced me to opiates, and thus began my struggle with addiction. My mother's battle with addiction cast a shadow over my early years, serving as a haunting reminder of the destructive power of substances. Yet, the allure of escape from the challenges life presented proved too strong to resist. As I delved into opiates, the grip of addiction tightened, setting in motion a sequence of events that spiraled my life out of control. Dropping out of high school and facing homelessness at a tender age, I found myself ensnared by the throes of heroin addiction. The turning point came when, at the age of 18, a fatal overdose nearly claimed my life. Through a miracle and the tenacity of medical intervention, I was given a second chance. Emerging from this near-death experience, I made a life-altering decision to break the cycle of addiction that had held me captive. With unwavering determination and a newfound resolve, I embarked on the arduous journey of recovery. Today, I stand proudly as a testament to the transformative power of recovery. Embracing sobriety for 3.75 years, I am actively engaged in groups such as TXYPAA and HA in Kerrville and San Antonio, advocating for the hope and healing that recovery can bring. My experience has propelled me towards the pursuit of education, with the aim of becoming a high school teacher. This aspiration is not merely a profession; it's a calling to be the mentor, the guide, and the source of inspiration that I yearned for during my tumultuous youth. In the realm of education, my goal extends beyond conveying academic knowledge. I aspire to be the teacher who sees each student as a unique individual, beyond the confines of their academic roles. I aim to foster an environment of empathy, understanding, and compassion, ensuring that every student knows they are valued and loved. My personal journey has taught me that the road to recovery involves more than medical intervention; it requires a network of support that believes in one's worth and potential. The dream version of my future self aligns with this vision of education as a catalyst for transformation. I seek to be the beacon of hope for students who may be grappling with their own battles, inspiring them to believe in their capacity for change and growth. My journey through addiction has provided me with a profound understanding of the challenges individuals face, and I am committed to using my education as a tool to help others recognize their inherent value. In conclusion, my experience with addiction has shaped my path in unexpected yet transformative ways. Emerging from the depths of struggle, I am now driven by the purpose of being an educator who extends understanding, compassion, and support to each student. By sharing my journey, offering guidance, and fostering an environment of empathy, I aspire to change lives, one student at a time, and demonstrate the boundless potential that recovery and education hold.
Jessica Brown
Grand Canyon UniversitySpring Valley, CA
I grew up with a single mom who sold drugs to make ends meet. I personally started using drugs when I was 12 years of age. I continued on in active addiction until I was 37 years old, 25 years with only brief moments of sobriety. What started out as a party time in life soon turned into a vicious lifestyle of meth use. I spent a good chunk of time in juvenile hall when I was an adolescent but that not deter me from the lifestyle. Most of the people I started using with would go home after the night and soon grew out of it and continued on to go to high school. I would stay out for days on end, sometimes weeks, and ended up dropping out of school the second week of eighth grade. My life continued in a downward spiral until I was 21. I went to rehab and remained clean and sober for about 3 months. When I returned home I got a job as an electrician construction. Soon I started drinking heavily but it was accepted in the field I was in, construction workers drink. Until I stopped showing up for work and eventually started using meth. I became pregnant at 28 so I ceased to use or drink during that time. My daughter was about 9 months old when I relapsed and started drinking and using. This time around I turned to the needle and got more heavily involved in crime to support my habit. I lost my job and eventually hit rock bottom. I asked my mother (clean and sober now) to watch my daughter so I could go to detox. I finished my detox and stayed sober a couple months only to relapse again. I had lost everything but I promised myself that if I didn't remain clean and sober I would go to a long-term program and that is exactly what I did. I went to a year long residential program with my then 3 year old daughter. I graduated the program with a year of sobriety. During that time I went back and got my GED. After I graduated the program I moved in with a friend and enrolled into nursing school. It was not long before I started having "a beer" on the weekends which soon turned into daily drinking. I had convinced myself that I did not have a drinking problem seeing I graduated nursing school with honors, got married, bought a home, and had a successful career as a nurse. Alcoholics don't do these things is the lie I told myself. My drinking almost killed me, the doctors gave me 6 months to live if I did not stop. I went to the hospital one night, I don't remember going, they gave me Librium to detox and off they sent me. I detoxed by myself at home and by the grace of God I have not used a drug or had a drink in 4 years. The last four years have been the best, yet most difficult years of my life. I was faced with the wreckage of my past but blessed with the promise of my future. I have redeemed time lost with my daughter and reconciled to my husband who I faced losing. I am blessed to serve the underserved population here in San Diego as a nurse. My dream is to become a Psychologist to help those who suffer from substance abuse disorder avoid the life I lived or to assist in recovering what life they have left.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Nov 10, 2025. Winners will be announced on Dec 10, 2025.