Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Scholarship Fund, Inc.

P.O. Box 611, Great Falls, VA  22066

Hear from some of our inspiring recipients on how our scholarship fund

will make a difference to them.

Veteran determination

Melissa is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.  She served four years and is now pursuing her dream of opening a gym with her twin sister.  She plans to graduate GMU this December with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology.  One of six children raised by a single mother, she is determined to make her dream a reality.

Melissa Carbajal, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Numerical dream

Ligia is from Venezuela and the mother of two boys.  With a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, she is currently pursuing an associate degree in Accounting.  Her long term goal is to become a CPA.

Ligia Decaro, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Nepalese nurse

Bindu immigrated from Nepal three years ago.  She had received a Diploma in General Medicine and completed a clinical practicum at Seti Zonal Hospital in Nepal. Due to financial difficulties, she could not continue nursing studies and began working Health Posts throughout Nepal.  Her passion for nursing brought her to the United States to pursue her dream.  She is working hard to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing while supporting her family in Nepal.  Her goal is to become a critical care Nurse Practitioner and provide health care to marginalized people.

Bindu Bista Dhami, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Heart specialist

Ellaha is currently pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with plans to become a medical doctor – either a heart specialist or cardiac surgeon. 


“As a student, taking care of family and also pursuing academic goals, this scholarship is really important. It lessens the financial stress and burden to achieve my educational goals while living in this high-cost area.”

Ellaha Momand, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Passionate care

Jamine was born and raised in the Philippines where poverty is one of the biggest problems.  Her passion for nursing began at a young age when she had to care for her sick grandfather and mother.  While her mother was hospitalized, Jamine was struck by how compassionate and professional the nurses were.  She decided she wanted to be a nurse so she could bring empathy, support, and unparalleled health care to the sick.  Once she obtains her degree, she hopes to work as a hospital nurse full time.

Dimple Jamine Oliva, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Raising awareness

Cariza is pursing a degree in Liberal Arts. Cariza began her college career in Manila, Philippines where she grew up.  Unfortunately, anxiety and depression caused her to drop out and work in various industries to get by.  When her family moved to the United States, she decided to return to school and earn a college degree.  Her dream is to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in the US and return to the Philippines to obtain a Masters degree.  She hopes that she will be able to raise awareness of mental health in her home country and fight the stigma it has there.  She has published her first collection of poetry and prose where she talks of her battle with depression and anxiety.  She donates a part of the proceeds of the book to organizations in the Philippines.  Her desire is to do more by starting organizations in the Philippines to support those people with mental health issues and start the necessary conversations to wipe away the negative stigma.

Cariza Anna Opana, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Aspiring teacher

Silvana is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education.  She became a single mother when her husband was deported by ICE.  After graduating this December, she plans to work as a teacher for the Fairfax County Public Schools in a Title 1 school.

Silvana Perez, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Designing goals

Rebekah is a single mother of 3 special needs children.  She was a dedicated Army wife for 15 years but is now divorced and pursuing a degree in Interior Design.  Aged 40 and homeless with just a high school education, she is pursuing a degree in Interior Design.  Once completed she plans to move to Washington State to be near her family and attend a 4 year University to complete her Bachelor’s degree and obtain accreditations to be competitive in the Interior Design market.

Rebekah Reaves, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

IT master

Sothearinh has been working since she was 14 years old.  She realized in her early 20’s that education was the key to improving herself and advancing.  She is pursuing a degree in Information Technology because there is such a demand in this area for IT professionals.  Her dream is to finish at NVCC with a 4.0 GPA and transfer to a 4 year college and work towards a Masters degree in Information Technology.

Sothearinh Thach, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Latina liaison

Ana is a single mother of 2 boys currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.  She plans to continue onto a Master’s degree program.  Her interest in nursing began at a young age when, her mother was becoming a Home Care Aid and would bring home her school books for Ana to translate and read to her Mom.  When Ana had her first son, she was so comforted by the nurses and impressed that they provided not only medical care, but also mental support and compassion. Ana wanted to be able to provide this type of support for others in their most vulnerable moments.  As a Latina, Ana plans to focus on the Latin community educating them on health-related topics.

Ana Vasquez Veliz, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Full-time perseverance

Rebecca is pursuing a degree in Computer Science.  She works full time and attends school full time.  It’s a difficult time for her, but she remains empowered by the light at the end of the tunnel, that her work and perseverance will result in a good, stable job with strong benefits.

Rebecca Wichmann, George Mason University, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Unknown opportunities

Remarks coming soon.  Recipient to be chosen by the school.

?, 2019 Scholarship Recipient

Creating opportunities to enrich society.

"Becoming a manager or being part of the executive team in the top 4 accounting firms or the top financial institutions is part of my long-term goal.  This [goal] will help me be able to interact with people and make a positive impact in life, creating opportunities to enrich the society.  Receiving this scholarship will boost my self-esteem, knowing full well I am not only completing an important task, but also realizing that I am a step closer in achieving my career goals." 

Bernice Anyang, George Mason University, 2018 Scholarship Recipient

Educational support for a student abroad.

Christina is a Danish and U.S. citizen, majoring in dance with a minor in early childhood development.  She previously trained at the Metropolitan School of the Arts and the Royal Academy of Dance.  She teaches ballet, tap, and jazz to pre-primary and elementary school children and performs herself as well.  Career wise she is hoping to dance professionally as well as continue to teach.  

Christina Gleason, George Mason University, 2018 Scholarship Recipient

Education can take on many forms.

"George Mason University refers to me as a non-traditional student. Several times in any given semester someone will ask them what I teach there at school. The surprise on their faces upon learning I'm a student never fails to amuse me.  Education can take many forms."


"Becoming a public health professional will enable me to apply for positions in city, county and state health departments...most of the time we do our work without fanfare or glory because it is our passion to help others.  It's a joy and privilege to become part of a long line of those who have served to improve and protect the health of us all."

Regina O'Brien, George Mason University, 2018 Scholarship Recipient

I want to be there for my future patients.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude. I am honored to receive this award from the Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Scholarship Fund, Inc. This scholarship will aid in my educational needs and my future career goals of becoming a nurse. From my own first-hand experience in the emergency room to the experiences of my family and friends, nurses have served a vital role in our lives, especially in times of great difficulty. I want to be there for my future patients, just as wonderful nurses were there for me. I left my full-time job to pursue my nursing degree and felt the financial stress immediately. This scholarship will truly help me fulfill my career goals. Thank you for investing my future!"

Fatima Wehelie, George Mason University, 2018 Scholarship Recipient

Two-time awardee presents project to UN

"With your support, I was able to go to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City with a group of students, and present our project in the General Assembly Hall. Up until last year, I would never have been able to consider such opportunities because I was so overwhelmed  by school and work. But this year I have actually been able to pursue amazing opportunities like the UN trip. I have also been accepted into the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution’s Accelerated Masters Program. I can start taking graduate course this upcoming semester. I am so grateful for everything that you and GFFN have done for me."

Hela Baer, George Mason University, 2017 Scholarship Recipient

Different forms of dance inspire her.

"I first started my dance training when I was six years old. I studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip-hop and acrobatics. At the age of fourteen, I joined the competition team, traveling along the east coast competing with well-known dancers and studios. I also received a teaching position at the studio instructing children ages 3-12 in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and acrobatics.  After college, I would like to teach dance in a public school setting to children who may not receive the training outside of school. This scholarship that I have received will help me to achieve these goals."

Paige Honbarrier, George Mason University, 2017 Scholarship Recipient

I want to help people that suffer and inspire others.

"My family and many others were victims of the Myanmar war. I was almost a year old when my father and brother passed away because of this war. Many endless wars I encountered, I saw [many become hopeless and some became disabled] and I did not understand and could not do anything to help.  [Years later] I dreamed of pursuing further education in healthcare.  I want to help people that suffer [and inspire others] to believe that through education and good attitude, they can make this world a better place.  I thank God for everything and for you all and thank you for your support and generosity and for being part of the processes of this bigger picture of developing and helping many lives."

Lun Lungsuay, George Mason University, 2017 Scholarship Recipient

International student & relief worker focuses on children.

Ms. Sultana is working toward a Masters in Early Childhood Education.  She currently works as an Instructional Assistant with Fairfax County Schools in their Head Start Program.  Previously, she studied at Punjab University and the Fatima Jinnah Women University in Pakistan.  She also volunteered in relief efforts for the 2005 earthquake disaster in Pakistan. Ms. Sultana is maintaining a 4.0 GPA while also raising 3 young boys.  She spent her savings to get loans and has a significant amount of school debt, and is grateful for this scholarship. 

Asma Sultana, George Mason University, 2017 Scholarship Recipient

I'm the only one of my family to go to college.

Martina Atabong is a single mother and is the first member of her family to go to college. She is on the Dean’s list at George Mason University and received her associate of science degree from Northern Virginia Community College. She plans to graduate with a nursing degree in 2016.

Martina Atabong, George Mason University, 2015 Scholarship Recipient

I always wanted to own my own business.

This 30-year-old Northern Virginia Community College student balances her life as a single mother of two children with her collegiate life.  She is hoping to use her future business degree to expand on her mother's cleaning business and one day manage it.

Susana Guevara, NVCC, 2014 Scholarship Recipient  

I’ve been putting myself through school for the past five years, and this is the first scholarship I’ve received.

Kathleen Wells is a staff registered nurse at Reston Hospital Center and is enrolled in George Mason's nursing program where she has been named to the dean's list.

Kathleen Wells, George Mason University, 2013 Scholarship Recipient