Sandra Rollings wearing a firefighter's uniform with a dog.

How This Vet, Single Parent and Scholarship Student Wants to Take Her Online Master of Social Work Degree Outside the Box

For years, Sandra Rollings of Nampa, Idaho, sought out the chaotic, the dangerous and the difficult. She served in the Army as a medic, and for six and a half years she has worked for the Boise Fire Department in Boise, Idaho. 

“I needed to prove something to myself, so I constantly sought out the hardest thing I could think of to do,” she said. It was an exhilarating way to live, she said, until its tolls on her mind and body became impossible to ignore. “Everything just came crashing down at once, and it made me take stock of why I’m here, where I am, how I got here.”

That’s when Rollings started prioritizing her mental health, and after a period of introspection, she sought out ways to help others. She now expects to graduate from Boise State University’s online Master of Social Work program in December 2023 with help from the Saint Alphonsus / Trinity Health Scholarship. 

Boise State’s online program helps students like Rollings pursue degrees in social work from home, allowing learners to skip the commute and do coursework in a place and time of their choosing. That means students from across Idaho and around the world can receive a Boise State education while living and working in their home communities. Rollings’ studies can wrap around her schedule as a firefighter and a single parent. At first, the online experience daunted Rollings, who, in her words, is a “notorious procrastinator.” 

“I was afraid I wouldn’t have the organization to complete an online program,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to class in person. The fact that there are still specific deadlines, that makes it easy.”

Another helping hand has been financial assistance from the Veterans Administration and the Saint Alphonsus / Trinity Health Scholarship, which is available to students living in the Saint Alphonsus service area. Through these streams of support, Rollings has been able to focus on pursuing her degree without worrying how she’ll pay for it.

Scholarships are an important tool for Boise State in making a college education affordable. As part of the current capital campaign, Boise State has established a matching program for donors establishing endowed scholarships. To learn more, click here. 

A self-described “neuroscience nerd,” Rollings said her course of study is broad, focusing on foundational and working knowledge of social work. When she graduates, she’d like to combine her degree with a yoga certification, and her interests in experiential therapy and somatic techniques for regulating the nervous system. 

“I don’t want to be tied down to a building. I’m here for a while due to the nature of being a mom, but I really value travel and flexibility in my schedule,” she said.

Scholarships are catalysts, empowering students to overcome obstacles, achieve their full potential, and contribute to our thriving learning community.  We aim to ensure that a quality education remains within reach for all students, regardless of their circumstances. We’re committed to breaking down barriers and empowering the next generation of Broncos as they shape the future of Idaho. To learn more, click here.

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