2013 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Awardees
We are pleased to announce the 2013 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Awards recipients. The scholarships program marks its 19th year and we are very proud to honor these amazing young adults. Despite the challenges and obstacles of having hydrocephalus, these future young leaders of our community are able to further their education, help their community and inspire their peers.
These scholarships were funded by two Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Funds, two Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Funds, two Anthony Abbene Scholarship Funds, the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship Fund, and the Giavanna Marie Melomo Memorial Scholarship Fund.
We are very grateful to all the funders and the Scholarship Committee for all their support and dedication.
Congratulations 2013 Scholarship Recipients!!!
||Anna Elise Jones
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship
Anna Jones is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River where she is majoring in animal sciences and is an active member of the University’s sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha. She has a strong passion for animals, loves being outdoors and is currently working for the Cooperative Resource International (CRI) as a laboratory research technician. Anna plans on furthering her education by receiving a Master’s degree in the field of reproductive physiology.
Born with hydrocephalus, Anna says, “I did not truly begin realizing what hydrocephalus meant to me until I was almost 18 years old.” As a young adult, she quickly learned how difficult it can be for medical professionals to recognize the signs and symptoms of a shunt malfunction. After enduring multiple shunt revisions, Anna’s short term memory was impacted, which has affected her study habits, how she retains information, and how she takes tests. She states “It’s an uphill battle, but not an impossible one.”
This past fall, Anna participated in the Minneapolis WALK and she also offers peer support to individuals in her hometown who are affected by hydrocephalus. “…there are many times after a surgery where I feel the weight of what having hydrocephalus means and how uncertain the future really is.” But Anna remains thankful and feels fortunate to help others by sharing her story and struggles with hydrocephalus. Given the statistics about hydrocephalus, she is often surprised at how unknown hydrocephalus is to so many people.
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Fund
“Even though hydrocephalus is an incurable disorder, it does not have to take over your life.”
Juliette Ohan is graduating from California State University, Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. Following graduation, she plans to become certified in Geographic Information Systems and will continue to further her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in the field of Conservation Biology. Most of Juliette’s time is spent conducting research, taking classes and studying, but in her free time, she takes pleasure in traveling and thoroughly enjoys athletic activities such as yoga, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and martial arts. Juliette does not let her condition limit her. She states, “These arts have given me a stronger body and a stronger mind, being careful of my condition but also never allowing it to keep me from doing anything I truly want to do.”
Juliette describes hydrocephalus as “a shock to my life.” At the age of 18, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus after months of suffering from migraines, double vision and feeling nauseated. After her diagnosis, she had surgery. Juliette used humor to get through the hospital stay and reconnect with her family.
“The hardest thing to deal with was never the physical aspect of hydrocephalus. It was the emotional fallout,” she says. She was able to overcome and cope with the physical aspect by doing physical therapy, but the emotional aspect of hydrocephalus has affected her the most. Juliette remains hopeful and determined with her school and future plans.
||Ana L. Ubierna
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund
“I am not willing to give up.”
Ana Ubierna, a proud mother of two and teacher from Long Beach, CA, is applying to the University of Southern California for the Masters program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Outside of teaching and being a mother of two, Ana finds joy in writing and practicing yoga.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of 22, she tells us, “My condition has impacted my life and those around me tremendously.” Ana and her family have had to deal with the financial stress and the emotional toll hydrocephalus can have on the family unit. She struggled greatly since her last few revisions but finally feels she is on the right track to finish her education and teach. When we asked Ana about how the scholarship will help, she shared with us how it will help her achieve her educational and career goals financially and how the scholarship is a “…a great reminder that, as someone who suffers from this condition, dreams are STILL very much attainable.” Through it all, she continues to remain positive, stays strong and resilient.
Recipient of the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund
“We never know if our next invasive brain surgery will be in 10 days or 10 years.”
Melissa Bruebach is a student at Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, where she is majoring in accounting and minoring in Spanish. A few of Melissa’s hobbies and interests consist of cooking, swimming, sewing, painting, and getting lost in a good book.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 10 months of age, Melissa has never let hydrocephalus or her other medical conditions impact her life.
“Hydrocephalus has affected my life, but it doesn’t define me,” states Melissa. In 2012, Melissa had a rough year and endured many surgeries. She reflects, “… hydrocephalus became a huge part of my life, almost as if it was saying, ‘I have to make up for lost time.’”
Despite having five shunts in one year, Melissa has a fighter’s attitude and much compassion not only for the other individuals living with hydrocephalus but towards her nurses and doctors.
“You should always try to be kind to others because everyone is dealing with their own battles, visible or not,” says Melissa. She is constantly pushing the limits and rises above life’s challenges. After graduation, Melissa will apply for her CPA.
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Funds
“…hydrocephalus has taught me to fight always and to never give up.”
Jordan Rogers is finishing her third year at the University of Denver where she will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minors in chemistry and Spanish. She is fond of reading, running and spending time with her friends. She aspires to work as a physician’s assistance so she can make a difference in patients’ lives in the same way that some medical professionals have helped her.
Jordan was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 3 months of age and since then, she has undergone 19 surgeries to revise her shunt. The condition has taught her to always be thankful, to fight and to never give up. Jordan says “Although there are challenges in life, they can always be overcome with support from family and friends and most importantly, an optimistic attitude.”
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund
“I believe in making the best of it and trying to inspire others. I’ve always believe that you choose your attitude. I want people to know that even though I have CP and am in a wheelchair, I am really blessed and hope to be able to make a positive impact on others.”
Timothy Beighley is in his second semester at Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA, where he is majoring in religion and will obtain his degree to become a hospital chaplain. His main interests in life are helping others and being active in his community. Timothy is extremely devoted to his volunteer work within his community, from coordinating meals for families in the hospital to being a camp counselor at a special needs camp called Team Kids. Timothy states, “I want to be able to give back and help to give people hope in their time of need.”
Born 3 months prematurely with grade 3 and grade 4 brain hemorrhages, Timothy developed hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and scoliosis. Doctors gave Timothy a poor prognosis, but he continues to beat the odds every day. Even though Timothy has experienced many adversities, he uses his unique gifts to help, inspire and motivate others.
||Emma Jane Maurer
Recipient of the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship Fund
“After three years of multiple revisions and hospital visits… I just wanted to be normal again and return to living my life the way I used to live.”
Emma has been accepted into the communications program at Liberty University where she plans to concentrate on journalism. Upon college graduation, her hope is to become a theater critic, an entertainment writer for a large newspaper, or a talk show host for the Sirius XM Live on Broadway. Emma takes pleasure in surfing, reading, cooking and going out to eat with friends. She loves the beach and music and the arts play a vital role in her life.
A National Honor Society student, Emma has had extensive involvement in numerous school activities. She has been a four year member of the concert and liturgy choir, member of the newspaper staff, a varsity captain of the quiz bowl team and member of the student disability awareness committee. It took Emma a while to get comfortable about her condition especially with her classmates.
“I hated the thought of having to tell my class why I needed emergency surgery because I had never shared this with any of my peers before,” shared Emma. However in her junior year of high school, Emma felt the need to advocate for hydrocephalus awareness and raise funds for research. She gave an informative speech to her class on hydrocephalus and this year she wrote a classification paper on the types of hydrocephalus for her English class. Through dealing with the challenges of hydrocephalus, Emma learned that embracing “who you are” is very powerful and of the importance of telling your friends and people around you about your condition. She also realized, in her words, the vitality of advocating to find a cure.
Recipient of the Giavanna Marie Melomo Memorial Scholarship Fund
“I must prove them wrong. But more importantly, I must prove to myself that hydrocephalus cannot and will not control how I run my life.”
Abigail Fazelat is a creative young woman who was recently accepted into Montclair State University in New Jersey. Abigail is interested in majoring in English and plans on transferring to New York University in her junior year of college so she can begin to focus more on an advanced education in the film and literary industries. One of her favorite activities involves writing and composing her own stories or poems. She also loves to dance, run and volunteer.
Abigail was diagnosed at 3 months old, and since then has had multiple revisions. One of the surgeries left her with vision problems. “To this day, the brain bleed from that surgery caused me to lose three-quarters of my peripheral vision in both eyes, making mobility, especially driving, more challenging,” shares Abigail. In spite of her vision problems and other challenges, Abigail still worked hard and was able to make the honor roll six quarters in a row. Abigail hopes that by writing poems and short stories about hydrocephalus and her experiences, more awareness will be built around the condition and more people will be properly diagnosed and treated.
“The more doctors become more acutely aware of the presence and symptoms of hydrocephalus, the more lives, young and old, can be preserved.”
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Fund
“If I did not have hydrocephalus, I do not think I would look at life in the positive way that I do. Also, if I did not have hydrocephalus, I do not think I would be as grateful for some of the abilities that I have.”
Lindsay Kerr will be attending Long Beach City College in California, where she will obtain an Associate’s degree in order to become a teacher’s aide in special education classes. She will then transfer to California State University, Long Beach, to get a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Lindsay’s ultimate goal is to become a Special Education Teacher of Visually Impaired Students. Two of her favorite hobbies are reading and working with nonprofit organizations, such as Best Buddies, Leo Club, and Starbight World.
Although Lindsay has disabilities herself, she is a natural born leader. “Lindsay is relentless in her pursuit for equal rights and equal opportunities for ALL students on our high school campus of over 4,200 students,” says Mrs. Dina Weinberg of Millikan High School. Because of her hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and visual disability, Lindsay needed assitive technology to help her with school work. Her experience dealing with her school to get assistive technology has made her determined to pursue her career goals. She also realized the importance of being your own self advocate.
“I do not want any child to have to struggle alone as I did to find the necessary tools to make it possible to learn.”