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Selected Independent Funeral Homes Educational Trust bestows scholarships on two students

DEERFIELD, ILL. — Selected Independent Funeral Homes Educational Trust has announced two new recipients of the Second-Career Scholarship in the amount of $1,500 each. The winners are Bobby Cook of Portland, Tenn., and Lisa Valentine of Chicago, Ill. The purpose of the awards is to assist recipients in the completion of their education in mortuary science. The scholarship was created to meet the educational needs of the increasing number of second-career professionals entering independent funeral service seeking positions as funeral directors and future leaders.

Cook attends John A. Gupton College in Nashville, where he is expected to graduate in December of this year. After spending more than 20 years in the call center industry, he became drawn to funeral service following the death of his father a year ago.

“It became clear to me what an incredible amount of planning, coordination and skill a funeral director is responsible for in a relatively short period of time,” Cook said. “However it is being in the position of caring for a family in their greatest time of need that is the most necessary component.”

Upon learning that he had been awarded the scholarship, Cook expressed both surprise and gratitude saying, “It makes me thankful for an organization like the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Educational Trust for working to recognize those individuals who, like me, make a major career change.”

Valentine is expected to graduate in September 2013 from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Ill. The wife of a U.S. Navy veteran who is also a student, Valentine is a licensed and certified pharmacy technician and holds a full-time position as an accounts receivable billing representative at Pharmore Drugs in Skokie, Ill., while attending Worsham. Following the loss of her first child in a stillborn birth, Valentine knew her next career goal.

“After being given the most compassionate care during our time of need, I realized that a career in funeral service was the next step that I wanted to take professionally,” said Valentine. “Winning the Second Career Scholarship means that another window of opportunity has been opened for me,” she said. “This opportunity brings me one step closer to transitioning from my current career into the career I have developed a strong passion for. My family and I are extremely grateful for the assistance that will make it possible for me to complete my studies at Worsham College.”

Both recipients have demonstrated financial need and outstanding personal references in applying for the scholarship. In order to be eligible, scholarship applicants must not be related to an owner of a funeral firm currently in operation and must be currently enrolled in a full-time Mortuary Science program at an accredited school.

Since the award was first launched in late 2010, the Board of Trustees has increased the number of scholarships to be awarded to up to four $1,500 scholarships each year; two in July and two in December. Additionally, all applications must include at least two letters of recommendation; one from a faculty member of the mortuary science program and the other from an owner of an independent funeral home or current or previous employer.

The official application for upcoming scholarships, as well as the complete list of previous winners, is available at The Second-Career Scholarship is one of several programs of the Selected Educational Trust which was founded by Selected Independent Funeral Homes, a worldwide professional association of independent, locally-owned funeral homes founded in 1917. By creating the program, the Trust hopes to attract and assist future practitioners interested in entering the profession. More information on the Selected Educational Trust and its activities can be found at


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