Tuesday, June 24, 2014

WSPTA Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the following individuals, who are recipients of WSPTA scholarships for the 2014 year:
Ursula Anne Abelsen
Anastasia Charity Borseth
Matthew David Bryson
Shelby Morgan Burkhart
Courtney Gu
Blake Guidice
Brennan Logan Hyden
Sophia Jean Knudson
Melanie Elizabeth Lane
Joya Elisabeth Major

Following is an excerpt from the application of one of our scholarship winners:

Describe personal characteristics that helped you to achieve a specific goal or accomplishment and relate how those characteristics will be influential in meeting your post-secondary educational goals. 
            Gathering the washable window markers, bright red lipstick and strings of Mommy’s beads, my little sister and I would race to make a masterpiece. Two little girls sitting on the arm of the couch, we giggled, drew pictures, and made our best lipstick kisses on my mom’s bald head. It was like this growing up. My mom had breast cancer, but she didn’t make it any scarier than it already was for us. For the past thirteen years, my mom has been battling breast cancer that has metastasized. Growing up around countless doctors and entire days in hospitals to see my mom, I learned the importance of caring for another person and the necessity of a passionate medical team.
            Going to chemo appointments became routine, and we developed our “normal” version of life. We thought she finally won the battle; but my mom discovered another metastasis at the end of my freshman year. When she lost her hair, I shaved my head, showing Mom I was with her every step of the way. Together we were the “Bald Beauties” and talk of the town.
            As we redefined our “normal,” a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer was attacking my dad. Brain surgery was supposed to be the cure. Days after the operation, my dad was able to talk, and even more of a miracle, able to walk. For my seventeenth birthday, I received the best present of my life - my dad took his first steps to me and back to his hospital bed – I got the present of hope. This past summer, my dad broke his spine and pelvis, and due to the necessity to heal, he stopped taking his chemotherapy. As time progressed, his brain tumors went wild, and his last days he spent unconscious, choking on his own saliva. At first, I was terrified, but knowing that my dad needed me, I helped clear his airways until I went home for the night. Peacefully, in his sleep, he passed away, and it has been a rough grieving process. But I know that, although he liked to take care of himself, he was happy to have me by his side until his final moments.
            Trying to recover from my dad’s death, our lives were spinning out of control. My mom’s cancer spread all over her body, causing blockages in her liver, kidneys, and gall bladder. To treat these complications caused a new problem, and the ultimate decision to put my mom on life support was made by our family together. My role changed from daughter to nursing assistant instantaneously. My mom’s strong will to live defied the odds and she was able to get off of her ventilator, but not much longer after that my mom went into hospice care. She passed away in early April of 2014, just six months after my dad died. Although my roles intermixed, I loved taking care of her when she needed it.
            But what does this all mean for me? Due to my parents’ battles with cancer, I understand the finality and also the importance of prevention in deadly diseases. United through hardship, I strived to improve both the lives of my parents, and others affected by disease. To begin making a difference, I organized a 5K community fun run to help combat malaria. I partnered with the UN organization "Nothing But Nets" to send insecticide treated mosquito nets and malaria prevention education to families in rural Africa. Last year, my goal was to send 150 nets, but with the support of my community, I was able to send 648 nets! One day, I want take this onto a larger scale and organize and participate in global initiatives to instill hope in patients across the globe. Recollections of henna tattoos and lipstick kisses on our bald heads and my dad’s first steps toward recovery have been more than just memories; they’ve been motivation.