Charles and Kristen Thoennes

Name: Charles and Kristen Thoennes
Residence: Sumter, South Carolina
Affiliation: Political science
Gift Designation: Charles and Kristen Thoennes Scholarship

As part of the loyal military community, Capt. Charles Thoennes '06, U.S. Air Force, and his wife, Kristen '08, understand the struggles that military veterans face when they seek a college degree. The couple established an annual restricted scholarship to support and honor Winthrop student veterans for their service.

The Charles and Kristen Thoennes Scholarship will provide financial assistance for political science majors, with first preference given to student veterans. Charles explained that assimilation into the civilian world can be challenging, and students who are military veterans often face the added stress of securing the funds needed to earn a college degree.

"Whether someone served four years or 20+ years, they've made sacrifices for our country that less than 1 percent of the population ever does," said Charles. "This scholarship recognizes and rewards that service."

Kristen noted that the scholarship-which the couple hopes to build to endowment level over the next 5-7 years-offers a way to support student veterans, who are vital members of the lifelong military community.

Charles works as Support Flight Commander for the 337th Recruiting Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. He earned his B.A. in mass communication and political science with a minor in German, while Kristen earned a B.A. in political science with a minor in history

The couple met at Winthrop, and they encourage other alumni-particularly young alumni-to give back to the university to assist future students and enhance their Winthrop experience.

"Giving back, regardless of the amount, helps keep you connected while ensuring the resources are available for future students to have a positive Winthrop experience," said Charles.