April Rowberry has an especially good reason to beam this year.
A student in Boise State University’s Master of Social Work online program, they earned a pair of $5,000 Pride Foundation scholarships — the Joe Varano Scholarship and the Pride Foundation Community Scholarship — to apply beginning next school year.
“It was an amazingly nice surprise,” Rowberry said. “I paid out-of-pocket for the whole summer semester because I wasn’t working for a while. I am a single parent in the queer community, so I was struggling when I applied for the scholarships. I was surprised when they sent me the email saying I got them.”
Formed in 1985 during the HIV and AIDS crisis, the Pride Foundation has invested more than $70 million dollars to support student leaders in the LGBTQ+ community in the northwest United States. Only students who are Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington residents are eligible.
“I am proud and excited,” Rowberry said. “I have queer children, too. I am super stoked I get to show them the scholarship and say, ‘Look, we can do this. There’s a community we can reach out to.’ Showing them that we can succeed is pretty amazing. It helps a lot financially, too.”
Rowberry enrolled at Boise State University in August 2022. They previously started a social work master’s degree program in Massachusetts, but they are eager to follow through to the finish line this time.
“I felt like the more I tried to help people and work, I couldn’t go much further without a license and the extra training,” Rowberry said. “I have wanted to get my master’s in social work for a long time now. It’s exciting to be doing it now.”
Onward and Upward
Originally from Idaho Falls, Rowberry had a challenging childhood, which led to their career choice in the social work field. They currently work remotely as an admissions coordinator for the Eating Recovery Center and the Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center.
“I am pretty resilient, but a lot of people helped me when I was younger, and they were all social workers,” they said. “I wanted to be able to give back.”
Rowberry, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human services and a 3.9 GPA from Kaplan University in 2012, needed the flexibility of the online format to return to higher education.
They have four children and share, “It’s always a struggle trying to work and maintain a house, but being an online student works for me with kids at home,” they said. “I also work from home, so doing it online is the best option.
“Living here in town and the reputation for the social work program were the two key factors that led to me choosing Boise State. I wanted to be able to walk at commencement.”
An advocate for diversity and inclusion, Rowberry believes in moving forward in life by always learning and growing. That’s another reason they wanted to return to college.
“When I first started the master’s degree program, I took a diversity course,” they said. “I loved advancing myself, learning more about my internal biases, anti-racism and becoming more of a change-maker. ”
The information that Rowberry is learning in the Master of Social Work online program curriculum is already paying real-world dividends.
“I have absolutely been able to apply what I am learning in the program to my career,” they said. “I work with several licensed master social workers, so the information is very relevant.”
Rowberry looks forward to learning much more as they work toward a Summer 2025 graduation date, culminating with a walk across the stage in a cap and gown.
“My family and friends are excited for me to go back to college and complete a master’s degree,” they said. “I am the first in my family to even go to college.”
With their previous work experience and enhanced education, the sky is the limit for Rowberry — especially once they have a master’s degree in hand. They also volunteer for Idaho Falls Pride, Boise Bicycle Project and Safe Place during their free time.
“I absolutely believe that having an advanced degree will help open up numerous job opportunities for me down the road,” they said. “I like working with adolescents, so something in that area would be great for me.”
So far, Rowberry is happy that they made the decision to return to college. The Pride Foundation scholarships provided additional incentives to work hard and represent the LBGTQ+ community as a student leader.
“It has made me stay, for sure,” they said. “I really like the Master of Social Work program. I would tell anybody who might enroll in it to be aware of how much time commitment and reading there is.
“The reading is heavy, but there is also a lot of support for you as an online student. I love Boise State University for that.”
Learn More About Boise State’s Online Social Work Program
Want to learn more about the social work program? Join us for an online information session or contact a student success coach.