As a mother of two, full-time employee, wife, and community volunteer, Dana Chacon has quite a bit on her plate. Yet, Chacon is eager to add one more important item to her list: a leadership degree.
Chacon of Dixon, IL, was recently awarded a Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship from Columbia Southern University (CSU) in Orange Beach, AL.
The Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship honors the spouses and children of active-duty public safety personnel (firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs, and dispatchers) and National Guard and military men and women.
The scholarship will cover up to $13,200 in one online degree program at the university. It will be applied directly to the recipient's tuition for up to three years or until the completion of the selected online degree program, whichever comes first.
Chacon, the wife of senior parole agent Arturo Chacon Jr. in Illinois, will use the scholarship to continue to pursue her online bachelor's degree in organizational leadership with CSU. Her interest in leadership stems from an earlier experience.
"While working on my degree in organizational leadership, I have found that leadership is something that I have been preparing for my entire life," she said. "My husband and I became parents at an early age. Through that struggle, he completed his bachelor's degree to become a public safety officer while I volunteered in my children's classroom to be the room mom, read with the students, and help in the classroom. I found this experience to be very empowering."
That empowerment transferred to other efforts such as leading her community's largest event, the Petunia Festival, in June.
"The festival involves working with dignified public safety officials to create a safe, family fun event attended by over 20,000 people. I am honored to work with such outstanding individuals to do some good in our community," she said.
Chacon indicated that her online degree pursuit is helping her lead.
"My degree in organizational leadership brings out the best in me so that I have the skills and abilities to bring out the best in others," she added.
Chacon also hopes her online degree in organizational leadership from CSU will be a steppingstone for her long-term goal.
"My aspiration is to obtain my master's degree to lead a non-profit organization that advances public safety," she said.
To learn more about the Hero Behind the Hero Scholarship, visit www.columbiasouthern.edu/HBH