APRO Scholarship Star: Rylee Smith

For more than a decade, the APRO Charitable Foundation has annually provided scholarships to rent-to-own professionals and their families. APRO members have contributed generously to the APRO Scholarship Fund – awarding 418 scholarships totaling $940,750 to date – empowering students connected with RTO to pursue college degrees and successful futures.

Rylee Smith and her family are relatively new to the world of rent-to-own, so she’s especially grateful to have received one of the 34 APRO Scholarships awarded this year. When COVID-19 initially struck the U.S., Rylee’s small hometown of Rock Springs, Wyoming, was hard hit.

At the time, Rylee was across the country in New England, serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – an endeavor she had put all of her time and money into. Naturally, she worried about her family back home as they struggled to make ends meet. And luckily, her father was hired within a couple of months by Owner Spencer Smith at Rock Springs’ local Aaron’s store, where he now serves as General Manager. Rylee completed her mission and returned home last fall.

“My dad’s new job with Aaron’s has given our family back some of what we lost during the first months of the pandemic,” says Rylee. “And Dad has been able to help many other people get furniture and other items they need.”

Ben has also been modeling an excellent work ethic for Rylee, working long hours and inspiring her to keep going with her education. Rylee previously studied at the University of Wyoming, and is now a sophomore Psychology major at Brigham Young University – Idaho, thanks to her resilience, resolve, and – in part – to her APRO Scholarship.

“I’m working on my own to pay for my college education,” she says. “I’ve gotten some loans, and I’ve applied for many scholarships to try to ease the burden of those loans. I’m thankful for APRO and its members offering this money to those of us in need.”

A serious student who strives for perfection, Rylee hopes to use her degree to pay forward the help she’s received – someday working with trauma patients, abuse survivors, and military members suffering with PTSD. Her APRO scholarship is not only enabling Rylee to take ownership of her future, but also has helped turn her into a true RTO devotee.

“Coronavirus brought a lot of families, just like ours, to their knees,” says Rylee. “Rent-to-own helped our family get back on their feet again.”

Rylee’s is one of the dozens of positive stories that generous donations from the RTO community make happen each year. Click here to learn more and contribute to this invaluable industry effort.