Shauna Tuiono-Horn and family

Staying strong

Osher Scholar Shauna Tuiono-Horn will never forget the first time she saw her fiancé, Justice, collapse to the floor and uncontrollably convulse for six minutes. The seizures began a few years after Justice was assaulted in an attempted robbery in North Carolina. He was only 20 when three men approached him outside a gas station with the baseball bat. One blow to the head crushed the right side of his skull. It took surgeons hours to remove all the skull fragments from his brain tissue. He wasn’t expected to make it through the night. Horn didn’t know him then. The couple didn’t meet until two years later when the two struck up a conversation in a Wal-Mart break room. “It was love at first sight,” Horn says. “We were engaged six weeks later. I’d always been a very headstrong person. I initially wanted to go and finish college, but he came along and changed all of that.”

Horn says they were inseparable until mid-July when she boarded a three-hour plane ride to Arizona. Earlier that year, she’d been recruited and awarded a full ride volleyball scholarship to Eastern Arizona College. A couple of months later, Justice’s seizures began. “I got a call at school that he was in the hospital,” she says. “The surgeons who worked on his brain injury told him that seizures were possible later in life. After the first one, he began having them more frequently. I left school with all intentions of going back, but after I saw what was happening I couldn’t go back.”

The following June, the couple had their first son, Justice Jr., and welcomed their daughter, Shanice, 10½ months later. Throughout their marriage, money was tight. Horn couldn’t work in fear of leaving the children with Justice, whose seizures continued. Their third child, J’shon, was born in 2001.

Horn eventually took a pharmacy technician job in 2002 after doctors found a medication to help control Justice’s seizures. A year later, Horn says she knew an education was the answer she’d been searching for, and she enrolled part-time at UMKC as a pre-pharmacy major. “I wasn’t happy doing pre-pharmacy, so I looked into other things,” she says. “I knew I wanted a bachelor’s degree and began thinking of other things that interested me. I knew I always enjoyed speaking with the pharmacy representatives at work, so I decided to pursue a business degree through the Bloch School.”

Just when the stress of work, school and motherhood began to wear on Horn, she got a call from UMKC’s Program for Adult College Education, which provides nontraditional students help with arranging academic courses. “They called and told me that the University was looking for students who fit the Osher Scholarship’s criteria,” she says. “I received it, and I can’t say ‘Thank you’ enough. Through my struggles, my kids have learned how important an education is, and they are sold on going to school one day. “I’ll never take my education or the opportunities it’s awarded me for granted. My experience—
thanks to the Osher Scholarship—has been priceless.”

About the Osher Foundation

Headquartered in California, The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by businessman and community leader Bernard Osher to improve support for higher education and the arts. The Foundation provides post-secondary scholarships, with special attention to reentry students. Osher Foundation President Mary G.F. Bitterman will address UMKC’s Class of 2010 during Commencement ceremonies on May 8. Bitterman is currently chairman of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

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