by Jennifer Bechard, Support Group Liaison, Teens Take Charge Mentor
We are so pleased and honored to announce our 2013 Hydrocephalus Association Teens Take Charge Scholarship Recipients.
The Hydrocephalus Association’s (HA) program, Teens Take Charge (TTC), trains teenagers and young adults (and their siblings) who are affected by hydrocephalus to become self-advocates with both their health professionals and with their legislators.
Through a generous grant from the Medtronic Foundation, the Hydrocephalus Association is able to award five scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each to these remarkable young adults.
We are grateful for the Medtronic Foundation’s continued support and all of the individuals who have held events and contributed to TTC. They have made it possible for HA to create a real “teen and young adult community” that is making great strides around the primary goals of the program.
We commend these young adults for their academic achievements, extracurricular activities and perseverance. They are an inspiration to everyone at the Hydrocephalus Association and to our entire community!
Congratulations 2013 TTC Scholarship Recipients!
“I am, in a way, thankful for my experience with hydrocephalus because it has made me who I am, and has also made me confident of my future.”
Amanda is a student at Aquinas College, where she recently declared a double major in psychology and community leadership. She is an outgoing and caring young adult that takes pleasure in helping others and enjoys spending time with her family and dog. Amanda is passionate about traveling, and next spring she will have the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland. Amanda shares that she loves seeing how diverse the world is.
Diagnosed with a chiari malformation at a young age, Amanda developed hydrocephalus after undergoing a chiari decompression. “Looking back at my childhood I do not remember not having headaches,” states Amanda. Despite the pain and obstacles, Amanda remains positive, her smiles lives on and she is determined to use her personal experiences to help other children and families who are facing similar challenges.
After college, Amanda’s dream job would be to work in a hospital setting where she can counsel children and their families who are struggling with chronic illnesses and conditions. Amanda says, “Through this experience, I have learned so much. I believe that my hard work ethic came from my ability to go to school, put on a smiling face, and enjoy life, even though I was always in pain.”
“Having hydrocephalus has definitely made me appreciate life in a way no one else can understand.”
Emily is enrolling in college at Oregon State University, where she intends to obtain an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in psychology.
Born with hydrocephalus, Emily also has a mild form of cerebral palsy. Throughout her life she has endured approximately eight surgeries due to her condition; however she continues to thrive and does not let life’s challenges hold her back.
This past year, after eight years of training, Emily received her black belt in martial arts; an extraordinary accomplishment. In addition to martial arts, Emily devotes much of her time to her studies and is currently taking three advanced placement courses. Outside of the classroom she has also been very involved with the National Honor Society, National Foreign Language Honor Society and Link Crew, which is a peer mentoring group for freshmen.
Emily has a strong desire to become a child life specialist because it will give her the opportunity to give back and comfort and ease patients’ fears, as others did for her. She states, “It’s something I’m passionate about, and I couldn’t be more excited to help children in the same situation I was in all those years ago.”
When asked about hydrocephalus and the challenges that those face with the condition, Emily expresses, “Hydrocephalus has made me a more tolerant person of other people with challenges. I have a greater respect of how people with other challenges take control of their life and make something of themselves. I think it is inspiring.”
“Having hydrocephalus has made me a stronger person.”
Ruby Pool is currently attending Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing, which is an extension of Abilene Christian University. She is member of Alpha Kai Omega Social Club and participates in intramural basketball, baseball, soccer, and flag football.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus shortly after birth, Ruby has endured 19 surgeries and numerous hospital stays throughout her life. Through it all, she continues to exhibit strength, courage and perseverance. “Having hydrocephalus has made me a stronger person. I have had to overcome difficulties that my friends have not, but I would not change it,” Ruby shares.
An extensive background in volunteering, Ruby’s time is spent helping others. She has worked with many organizations, some of which include the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Breakfast on Beach Street (BOBS), and Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC). She has also volunteered in Quito, Ecuador building a house and working at a camp for children, which gave her the opportunity to work with orphanages. She has also worked with SIM ministries and AIDS organizations in Nigeria.
Ruby is a presidential scholar and is excited to begin her career as a nurse. She reflects, “I believe that having hydrocephalus has not limited me, but made me stronger and given me a unique way to be able to connect with patients and parents who have children who are sick or with disabilities.”
Danielle Denise Kulowitch
“Having hydrocephalus along with Apert Syndrome has forced me to always work harder than my peers to keep up and fit in.”
Danielle Denise Kulowitch has been accepted into the University of Montana where she will be majoring in Environmental Science. She aspires to work at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
Danielle is active in her community, tutoring students who are struggling in math and science and volunteering and fundraising for the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure event. Danielle also loves to spend her time working in the garden.
Born with Apert Syndrome and hydrocephalus, Danielle has had to overcome more obstacles than most. As a child, she suffered from development delays. “I did not speak until I was three… I did not walk until I was two,” she shares. Nevertheless, Danielle excels in school and, at seventeen years of age, has finished her high school requirements six months earlier than her peers.
“Hydrocephalus taught me to push, even when I was recovering…It taught me that life is not something to ever take for granted…that life is amazing, and beautiful.”
Samantha Richardson has been accepted into Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario, and will begin classes this fall. Samantha intends to finish her undergraduate degree in the political science program, and aspires to become a lawyer.
Samantha is fond of superheroes, loves to read and learn, and has a strong interest in music. She is a member of her school’s choir and takes part in the Delta Arts Youth Council, Reading Buddies Program, Gay Straight Alliance, and the Grad Council.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus at three months of age, Samantha has endured countless surgeries and hospitalizations. Through it all she has learned, gained strength and courage. She states, “Hydrocephalus is definitely my teacher, perhaps the greatest teacher I will ever have.”