Living the Royal Neighbors Mission

Member Trish Stevens wearing her cap and gown

Trish Stevens | Member, Clermont, Florida | Recipient of a Royal Neighbors Scholarship

Mornings are my favorite time of day. At my house, I get a glimpse of paradise most days as the sun slowly dances her way up over the horizon in her favorite colors. A horizon is the place where heaven and earth meet, and I have the wonderful privilege of experiencing a new horizon every day.

The New Horizon scholarship from Royal Neighbors of America allowed me to complete my master’s degree in exceptional student education with an emphasis in educational therapy. That is a mouthful which simply means I get to work with the most unique, witty, and loveable students who learn differently. I get to advocate for them and help them believe in themselves, when the system and others have often told them they were dumb, or unable to measure up to that invisible standard. I am truly blessed.

But this isn’t just a story of a degree simply finished. It began 57 years ago when my grandmother believed in Royal Neighbors and took out a small policy for her one-year old grandbaby. She was a staunch believer in helping others, making a difference, and education. Those qualities were passed down to me. As a child, I remember my parents inviting soldiers who were far from home to come for Thanksgiving dinner. We also hosted many international students which lead to my love of travel and diverse cultures.


I have had the amazing opportunity of taking mission and service trips with my own children and students. Now, as a mom, grandma, teacher, and mentor, I love helping our younger generation see the blessing in giving to others, whether it is helping to complete an orphanage in the Dominican Republic or painting the house of an elderly widow, giving back is what makes us people of compassion and empathy. It is true that we gain more by giving than by receiving.

Going back to college in my 50’s was terrifying. What if I failed? “What ifs” can paralyze one from living. I finally faced those fears and began. With a year of classes remaining, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. My world was turned upside down. The doctor recommended that I take a break from my studies. Thankfully, I responded well to treatment and was able to return to work, but with a mountain of medical debt, I wondered if I would be able to finish my degree. That is when I read about the New Horizon scholarship and applied. I am so thankful for Royal Neighbor’s assistance in helping me complete my studies. I am also thankful to my grandmother and mom for believing in the work of Royal Neighbors and leaving me this legacy.

So, what’s next on the horizon? I hope to go overseas in the near future and work with students in a third world country. I am eager to see the sun rise over a new horizon.

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