Announcing our 2022 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Recipients!

The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce the 2022 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Award Recipients. We would like to thank everyone who applied for a scholarship and congratulate those of you who were selected this year. HA’s scholarship program was established in 1994 to provide financial assistance to capable and promising teens, young adults, and adults who live with the ongoing challenges and complexities of hydrocephalus.

Since the scholarship program was established, HA has awarded 241 scholarships to future leaders of our community. We are proud to honor these remarkable young adults. In addition to successfully managing their hydrocephalus, these students continue to excel in the classroom, volunteer and give back to help their local communities. They are an inspiration to us all, demonstrating that hydrocephalus does not stand in the way of pursuing one’s goals.

These thirteen scholarships are funded by:

  • Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is supported in part by Molly Mastrangelo
  • Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory Gerard Swartz Fudge Scholarship
  • Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Anthony Abbene Scholarship Fund
  • Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship Fund
  • Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship
  • Jacobsen Family Scholarship
  • Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship, which is provided by Erik and Lisa Chamberlain.

Our gratitude is extended to all the donors for their generosity and the Scholarship Committee for all their support and dedication.

Congratulations 2022 Scholarship Recipients!

Kamal Abdul-Jabbaar

Recipient of the Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship

Kamal was diagnosed with hydrocephalus as a child. Over the years, he missed a lot of school and activities due to severe headaches, hospitalizations and brain surgeries. But even having health issues from a very young age, he never considered himself different and kept his sense of humor.

Writing is more than a hobby for Kamal, it is his life. He took his first film production class in seventh grade and has been writing ever since. He is currently a senior in high school and will be pursuing a degree in film production.

Kamal has participated in the Compton Robotics Club to help make STEM learning more accessible to students in Compton, CA. He has also participated in Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) and in his school’s Student Leadership Congress where he has helped to be a voice for the student body with school administration.

“I have noticed that most characters in TV and movies hardly ever have health challenges. And if they did, it would be mentioned as a special episode. I feel I have a unique ability to create stories based on characters that also have health challenges, and still be treated as normal. It’s time that we start seeing people’s imperfections on the screen and I know I am the one to do it.”

Leyra Espino-Nardi

Recipient of the Jacobsen Family Scholarship

Leyra was diagnosed with hydrocephalus before she was born. She has had seven total surgeries, including two plastic surgeries to correct bone deformities in her skull due to craniosynotosis. She had a stroke at the age of nine and required several years of of occupational and physical therapies.

Leyra’s biggest frustration is the misinformation that exists about hydrocephalus and how people live with the condition. She has made it her mission to educate people about hydrocephalus and has created a website to assist with this. Leyra is currently a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies. Her career goal is to become a member of the US Foreign Service (i.e. a diplomat).

Leyra has participated in the WALK to End Hydrocephalus for four years and attended HA’s National Conference on Hydrocephalus, HA CONNECT, twice. Along with volunteering for HA, she has participated in Lambda Pi Chi/Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad Sorority Inc.’s IÑACAS program and Girl Scouts. Leyra has been a Girl Scout and Lifetime Member since the age of five, where she has earned the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.

“Every part of my life has been affected by my hydrocephalus. It is an intrinsic part of my identity and should be celebrated. It has always been who I am. I am proud to tell people that I have hydrocephalus and to educate them on what life with hydrocephalus is like,” Leyra said.

Anna Etheridge

Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Fund

A freshman at Paris Junior College, Anna hopes to transfer to Texas A&M to complete her degree in early childhood education. She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in infancy and living with the condition has helped her to appreciate every small thing in life.

Through the years, she worked through her many challenges due to having hydrocephalus, and that fueled her to try even harder to rise above and excel. Her career goals include becoming a kindergarten teacher and eventually a music therapist, particularly for those suffering from hydrocephalus.

Anna volunteers at the Greenville Public Library and has been involved with the Music for Relief program where she assisted with fundraisers for environmental disasters.

“As a teacher, I would like to talk more about hydrocephalus with teachers and students so they can better understand the condition and how they can help students that may have it. I want to inspire others to overcome their mental and physical challenges and that their disability does not define them,” Anna said.

Xavier Grayson

Recipient of the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund

Growing up wasn’t easy for Xavier, who was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in infancy. He missed a lot of school and had to constantly play catch up with his studies. He struggled with teachers and people not taking him seriously, brushing off his headaches and challenges to overcome this perception. Working hard to get through these obstacles made Xavier determined to help other people avoid the hardships that he has had to overcome in his life.

Now, Xavier is working toward finding success in the business world by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance at Indiana University South Bend. Though filmmaking is his first passion, he would love to eventually use his success in business to find a way to work with and fund film projects.

Xavier was young when he lost his father due to complications from diabetes. He was invited to several events where he spoke to other people who had experienced similar loss. Sadly, Xavier lost his grandfather to cancer, but this inspired him to participate in events to benefit cancer research.

“I hope to gain as much knowledge that I can while in school in order to set myself up for success. Having grown up with challenges has helped me to work harder and I am determined to be successful in whatever I am participating in,” Xavier said.

Brenna Hawk (Bren)

Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Fund

In early childhood, Bren experienced a lot of frustration and was non-verbal in preschool and kindergarten. She had gross motor skill delays and avoided playing games with other children. In middle school, her shunt failed and the subsequent brain surgery caused all her hair to fall out. She was not prepared for the emotional and social toll it would take on her. Animation became her outlet and the way that she has expressed herself to connect with other teens. She is a storytime animator and has had her art published by Politico.

Bren is currently a high school senior and plans to attend Western Colorado University. She wants to be an elementary education teacher to help kids with learning disabilities and special needs including hydrocephalus.

Bren has been participating in the Denver WALK to End Hydrocephalus for 12 years. For many years, she has assisted with the annual holiday celebration for children and teens with hydrocephalus at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Bren is also involved in countless community service projects, including the toy drive for Children’s Hospital of Colorado, the anti-bullying campaign through the Girl Scouts and created activity kits for the Aurora, Colorado police officers to give young children that were present when family members were arrested.

“I would like to support young children that need extra assistance so that they can become the next generation of doctors, scientists, teachers, engineers, etc. I especially want to encourage children with hydrocephalus to be empowered and not become discouraged by their challenges.”

Vincent Lambraia

Recipient of the Hydrocephalus Association Fund Scholarship, supported by Erik & Lisa Chamberlain

Born prematurely, doctors told Vincent’s parents that he likely would never have the ability to walk or talk. As a baby, he suffered a series of strokes which caused cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. His conditions made it difficult for him to process information. But he has never used an excuse, but instead always found a way to accomplish things.

Never being able to play the sports that he loves, he found another way to enjoy them through actively following them and writing articles about them. Vincent will pursue a bachelor’s degree in English, communications or journalism and hopes to be able to write about sports in his career, but also to have the opportunity to write about hydrocephalus to raise awareness.

Vincent has participated in many community service programs. He organized a fundraising event for International Ministries to assist those in Doma, Zimbabwe with food and basic needs. Vincent volunteered weekly at A Gathering Place to help people in need from his community. He helped raise money for “Caring for Mandi” in 2019, to help with expenses for medical care and physical rehabilitation needed after a spinal cord injury.

“I know I can help anyone who is experiencing any type of challenge in life. I hope my story and my desire to press on inspires others like me to approach problems without anxiety, in the knowledge that they can do more than they ever thought they could.”

Allison Lawrence

Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarships

After Allison and her twin brother were born prematurely at 26 weeks gestation, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and eventually complex epilepsy. Through her many surgeries and procedures as a young child, she has always remained resilient. She played soccer, ran track and worked multiple part-time jobs.

She did not share her condition with many people until later in her teenage years when she was able to help a four-year-old boy that had recently had a shunt placed. This helped her understand the path that was chosen for her and how she could help others.

She is currently a sophomore at Liberty University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication and will pursue a master’s degree in library science. She currently works in the public library system and plans to continue her career there after graduation.

Allison volunteers in her community in a variety of ways. She plans a clothing ministry to assist struggling teens and young adults; helps Hooves Volunteer D program; volunteers for the Prince William County Library; and fundraises with Lawrence Racing for the Manassas Cancer Center and the NICU at Fairfax Hospital.

“My goal is to continue my career in the library and focus on working with children. I love working with children and I want to bring more awareness about hydrocephalus to children at a young age. I am currently working on a display at the library that will educate the public about hydrocephalus.”

Piper Maring

Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarships

Being diagnosed in infancy, having hydrocephalus is all that Piper has known. She was drawn to swimming at an early age and has been swimming all of her life, competing with her high school swim team. Thankfully her hydrocephalus has not had any impact in her participating in the sport she loves.

Outside of the pool, Piper has always loved designing and creating, which has led to her interest in pursuing a career in architecture and design. Her goal is to create structures that are eco-friendly and inviting to its inhabitants. As Piper has grown older, she understands the importance of design in office buildings and specifically hospitals. She relates to how the hospitals that she went to as a child made her feel happier and more at ease.

Piper has been participating in and fundraising for HA’s WALK to End Hydrocephalus events for 16 years. She also recruits a large team of at least 30 participants to walk with ‘Team Piper’. In addition, Piper volunteers in her community through the national honor society to package food for children that do not have good meals outside of school, as well as providing them with life necessities. Furthermore, she volunteers at the Children’s Museum in Arvada, CO.

“Architects and designers use colors, windows and open space in buildings to make people feel happier and more at ease in spaces that are usually sad or stressful. As a future architect, I want to develop eco-friendly, sustainable buildings that do just this.”

Sarah Myers

Recipient of the Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory of Gerard Swartz Fudge

After Sarah was born, her parents were told that she would never talk or walk after acquiring hydrocephalus due to a traumatic brain injury at birth. She started physical therapy and speech therapy at three months of age. Against all odds, she started walking at the age of two and speaking at three years old.

She worked extremely hard in school, and with tremendous effort, she continues to be academically successful. She struggled with social interactions as a child and especially in school. She noticed how differently people saw her because she talked slower and seemed different to them when she felt the same. She soon realized that her uniqueness was an asset, not a burden, and that differences in people make the world a better place. She is an activist and supporter of the underprivileged and she plans to continue this path by pursuing a degree in psychology at Colorado State University.

Sarah has participated in and fundraised for three WALKs to End Hydrocephalus. Her first HA WALK was in Salt Lake City when she was nine years old. The other two WALKs Sarah participated in were in Denver, CO. Sarah has volunteered for the Centura Global Health Initiatives program in Iquitos, Peru as well. She taught English and health care basics to teenagers living in small villages.

“I have a goal to be a counselor to children with disabilities and expand the education of hydrocephalus and other medical conditions. I hope to one day work in an environment where I can help people live out their own dreams and rise to their full potential.”

Adrienne Prevost

Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarships

The self-proclaimed smallest girl in her class with the biggest heart, Adrienne loves working with children and helping others. Hydrocephalus has presented blessings and challenges in her life. She was born three months premature and weighed two pounds. She has always found a way to overcome her challenges, through hard work, modern medicine and the grace of God.

She has a passion for working with children and this will lead her to pursue a degree in elementary education from Shorter University in Rome, GA. Adrienne would like to become a kindergarten teacher and plans to share her life story of hard work and dedication to inspire others to accept and appreciate who they are and to realize we all have huge potential and purpose in life.

Adrienne is active in her community. She volunteers for two organizations that package meals and gather clothing for the needy, Community Share, and Feed the Need in the Bahamas. She also sings and performs for the residents of local nursing homes and grocery shops for the elderly in her neighborhood since the pandemic.

“Physically, it is easy to see that I am unique. But when people get to know me, they see past the short girl with tiny hands and feet and see my kind heart. I want to teach kids that it is ok to be different and to realize that we are all unique and we all have talent and potential to be our very best.”

Elizabeth Quijada

Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarships, supported by Molly Mastrangelo

Elizabeth’s life has been filled with barriers, medical issues and great loss. Her father unexpectedly passed away from a brain hemorrhage when she was in high school and she lost her way for a while. Until one day someone told her they believed in her and she once again started to believe in herself.

She was diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus as a young adult and her experiences with the condition have solidified her passion for medicine. Hydrocephalus has made her life journey more difficult, but she uses her experiences to help others. She will be pursuing her doctorate degree within Arizona State and although she may not want to become a neurosurgeon, she knows she can still make an impact as a primary care physician for those struggling with hydrocephalus.

Elizabeth is very active in HA’s programs and events. She has participated in HA’s WALKs, HA CONNECT, and social events and groups. She also volunteers in her community with local hospice organizations and internationally in both Peru and Nicaragua, helping with a local clinic and rebuilding a community center. Additionally, she volunteered for the Ronald McDonald House helping to package food and coordinating a Halloween party for the residents.

“My condition has made the journey to becoming a physician more difficult, but not impossible. In fact, there has been a lot of good that has come from it. I have bonded with others that share my diagnosis and each day I am able to educate yet another person on hydrocephalus and what it means.”

Cassidy Smith

Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarships

Cassidy was diagnosed with hydrocephalus in utero and was born a month early. Through her childhood, her condition made her incredibly timid, believing that any injury she might incur would be detrimental. This led to difficulties engaging with her peers in her early childhood years. Continuously overcoming challenges in elementary and middle school, she was in advanced classes and proving all of her doctors wrong.

People did not understand her “invisible” condition and she did not feel comfortable sharing it with anyone for fear of negative reactions. Through these experiences, she discovered her love for psychology. She is currently a high school senior and her next step is to pursue her degree in psychology. She hopes to use her experiences and knowledge of hydrocephalus to better treat her patients.

Cassidy has been an active participant in the Atlanta WALK to End Hydrocephalus for many years. She also created a podcast in her junior year of high school to raise awareness for “invisible disabilities”, focusing on hydrocephalus and other invisible conditions. She also participated in community service projects with the Beta Club program, the Girl Scouts, and her church, where she assists at the preschool and volunteers at Camp Windshape during the summer.

“Information is key in supporting those with hydrocephalus. I aim to help others by being a role model and providing advice and support. By setting an example and discussing my experiences, I can help others deal with whatever challenges may be facing them.”

Hannah Weil

Recipient of the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship

Hannah had a brain bleed at birth, resulting in hydrocephalus, and spent the first few weeks of her life in the NICU and had her first shunt at three weeks old. She has had six shunt surgeries and five other corrective surgeries over her 18 years. She has not let any of these challenges stop her from being very active in sports, playing soccer for her high school and in her leisure time, skiing in the winter and playing tennis and golf in the summer.

She plans to pursue a degree in early childhood education with a minor in Kinesiology. A career in teaching will be most fulfilling to her and she believes she has a lot to offer students who have learning differences. Her journey with hydrocephalus has brought her physical, academic and social challenges and she as learned to differentiate and self-advocate to be successful.

Hannah attended HA CONNECT for the first time in San Francisco when she was nine months old and has also attended conferences in Baltimore and Minneapolis. She attended Camp Head Strong for two summers and has participated in the Denver, CO WALK to End Hydrocephalus in 2018 and 2019.

“Hydrocephalus is just a part of who I am, and it has impacted me in all aspects of my life. While there are challenges and frustrations, I also am the person I am today because I have learned to persevere and meet my challenges.”

Congratulations to all of our Awardees and Finalists!
You inspire us all!

2022 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Finalists

Franchesca Abel Alden Darr Wali Muhammad Khubaib Svend Phillips
Riyadh Ahmed Sean Delaney Richard Kirkman Danielle Pope
Chibuzo Anekwe Tyler Denault Eleanor Kloss Kia Render
Maya Bachmann-Delgado Christian Fenger Payton Kraft Conlon Ruane
Eleanor Baus Andrew Fitzgerald Caroline Kyle Lydia Scheele
Sydney Bellamy Robert Gubala Riley Long Mary Schuler
Connor Berry Nicole Gutierrez Megan Marchica Gregory Shoulders
Kaleb Bleil Heather Hanft Toni McDaniel Rachel Sipos
Zachary Borneke Zandria Hannigan Lauren Mertz Caroline Slack
Ainsley Brucker Emma Harris Aliviah Messinger Cree Smith
Antonella Caranci Mason Hart Samantha Moser Benjamin Steinfink
Anakka Carter Khalil Hawkins Jonathan Murgida Sydney Stevenson
Francesca Cianfarani Malka Heidingsfeld Noah Nechemia Sila Suleyman
Melanie Coe Madeline Hommel Alexis Needs Madeline Todd
Amaya Cook Hannah Jackson Gavyn Nybakken Jamie Tylock
Jaelynn Culberson Memuna Jalloh Mckayla Oquendo Julie Wiener
Preston Dahlquist Adam Jeffers Brayden Owens Darren Woodburn
Austin Daniele Ryan Johnson John Pawlowski