In 2001, OPTIONS Alumnae came together to create something directly impacting women seeking higher education. Through their collaboration, fundraising, and generosity, they created the OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship. This scholarship was created to help women who needed financial support to complete a post-secondary degree or certification. The OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship offers more than just financial assistance; it connects recipients with a powerful and diverse support network of women.  

Having a support system during college is essential, especially for those who identify as women. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that women outnumber men in undergraduate and graduate programs and are more likely to graduate. And while college increases the wages of women with degrees, it comes at a high cost.   

According to the Education Data Initiative, in 2023, the average cost of tuition, books, supplies and daily living expenses was $36,436 per year. The total cost over four years is more than $145,000. That sum is unattainable for many in Indiana, which is why scholarships like the OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship are essential.   

Eight women have received the OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship. 

  • Megan Nalley  
  • Humaira Khan  
  • Jennifer McKoy-Hick  
  • Surinam Aveja  
  • Kendra Bowling  
  • Megan Bone  
  • Sarah Ramsey
  • Gloria Combs  

Meet Megan Bone

In the United States, individuals who want to attend post-secondary education have a few options for paying tuition. Some have parental figures who have saved or will take out loans. Others pay out of pocket or use government-subsidized grants and loans. While grants don’t need to be repaid, loans do, and women with degrees are 71% more likely than men to have student loans 12 months after graduation. Scholarships play a massive role in providing additional support for those who need it.

Megan Bone was one of those students who was so determined to get a degree, and nothing was going to stand in her way. As a junior at Warren Central High School, she began applying for scholarships, including The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, which pays for in-state tuition for chosen students. Even becoming a finalist for this prestigious scholarship is an honor because it is based on multiple factors, such as community involvement and academic performance. Megan was a finalist but, in the end, was not selected, bringing her back to square one.

But Megan’s journey did not end there. One of the benefits of applying for scholarships through Central Indiana Community Foundation is that you are not just applying for one scholarship; you are opening your application up to more than 100 scholarships, which is how the OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship committee became aware of Megan.

A Scholarship and Community Can Change Someone’s Life 

After receiving a cryptic message from a guidance counselor, Megan was ushered into a room of women to learn she was selected as the 2016 OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship recipient. She received $48,000 over four years to support her at a university of her choice.  

Megan recalled, “I remember before my freshman year, [the OPTIONS Alumnae ] said they want to help with my dorm, and they asked me to make a registry of everything I needed. I was like, what do I need? Maybe a couple of notebooks or something.”   

The OPTIONS Alumnae Committee gifted her with much more than notebooks. One of her softball coaches, connected with Women’s Fund, went with the group and helped them pick out all the things she would need for her dorm room. 

“It truly helped me focus on school. I mean, it took a weight off my shoulders, but more so off my Dad’s shoulders; it helped a lot,” said Megan. 

Megan wasted no time putting this opportunity to good use and started her freshman year at Valparaiso University. 

Finding Her Stride 

Megan studied nursing and received her degree in 2020 during a global pandemic. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of change taking her throughout the U.S. After graduating and spending time working in Indianapolis, Megan decided to jump into the unknown and do travel nursing.  

“I lived in Washington, DC, for six months. Then, I was in Texas for a while and decided to come to San Francisco. I started working here in the city, and I never left. I just liked it so much, so I just stayed. Now I work here full-time,” said Megan.   

As a travel nurse, she worked in the adult intensive care unit, caring for some of the hospital’s most ill patients. After moving to San Francisco, she discovered her love for pediatrics. She was persuaded by a coworker to make the shift because “it takes a very special personality and type of person to be able to take care of sick kids. And I just never thought I could do it, but I love it so much.” She works in one of the busiest pediatric care units in the U.S., where she nurses children of all ages and nationalities. Recently, she received her Critical Care Nursing Certification, which requires her to have at least 1,750 hours as an RN/APRN caring directly for critically ill patients.  

Winding down from hours on an inpatient hospital floor can be challenging, but Megan always finds the time. 

Outside of Work 

The feeling you get when surrounded by a large group of people who are all singing and dancing to your favorite song is something Megan is always chasing; for her, nothing compares to the rush of a concert or music festival. Her love of music combined with some close friends always results in a time to remember. Megan has gone to some of the largest music festivals, such as Bonnaroo and Coachella.  

When she’s not planning for a concert, she’s traveling through the world with her best friends and getting out of her comfort zone with all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities. But Megan isn’t a one-sided extrovert; as a self-described homebody, a quiet night at home with a fantasy novel on her e-reader is a welcome reprieve. Every nurse deserves the time to take care of themselves the way they care for others. 

At the end of the interview, we asked Megan what the OPTIONS Alumnae Scholarship meant to her. “Looking back and reflecting, I see how much I was able to accomplish and where I am now; I never would’ve imagined that I would be working somewhere that I’ve always dreamed of working, living somewhere I’ve always dreamed of living. The OPTIONS scholarship has helped set me up for my future way more than I would’ve ever known at 17.”  

If Megan’s journey through college and beyond is inspiring, learning about Megan’s journey before college adds more to her story, read an article about her in the Indy Star. 

About Women’s Fund   

Women’s Fund of Central Indiana convenes, invests and advocates so all who identify as women and girls living in Central Indiana to have an equitable opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter their race, place or identity. Learn more about Women’s Fund