Announcing Our 2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Recipients!

The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce the 2016 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 149 scholarships to 149 deserving 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, and inspire their peers and all of us, demonstrating that hydrocephalus does not stand in the way of pursuing one’s goals.

These nine scholarships are 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, Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship, which is provided by Erik and Lisa Chamberlain.

We are very grateful to all the funders and the Scholarship Committee for their support and dedication.

Congratulations 2016 Scholarship Recipients!

david_cain_hascholarDavid Cain

Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Funds

“I want to be someone that they can look at and say, ‘He beat this and I can too.’ I want to inspire them to stay positive and feel hopeful.”

David recently entered his second year of college at Saint Francis University where he is studying to be a Physician’s Assistant. His interest in science, caring for others and his personal experience as a patient have led him to this career choice. He aspires to work for a children’s hospital to help individuals in similar situations. He shares,“I want to show them – as living proof – that they will get better and that they can overcome anything.”

David was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor along with hydrocephalus when he was in the 7th grade. He’s endured five brain surgeries. Despite the obstacles, he continues to thrive in his personal life and in the classroom.

In his free time, David participates in his college’s intramural basketball and soccer leagues. He also enjoys playing the guitar, biking, fly-fishing and volunteer mentoring at numerous brain tumor camps. David expresses, “I will continue to help others with this condition by modeling that no matter what happens and how defeated you might feel at times, you don’t have to let this beat you… keeping a positive attitude can help us cope with our challenges.”

brittany-faitao_hascholarBrittany Faitao

Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship

“From my own personal experience, I recognize the power that true empathy can provide when someone is in their greatest time of need… Although I live everyday with constant discomfort, I refuse to allow the condition to change my goals.”

Brittany is a student at Suffolk County Community College, where she is in the RN associate nursing program with the aspiration of one day becoming a nurse practitioner in pediatric neurology. She would like to be a source of hope to the many children who struggle daily while living with hydrocephalus.

Diagnosed before birth and shunted as an infant, Brittany always knew she was “different,” but lived freely without complications until November of 2014. Her care-free life turned into a nine month ordeal of four revisions and constant pain. Although she will never have the simplicity of her earlier years, she remains positive and motivated to live life to the fullest.

“I have learned that just like shunts, life requires revisions. This has not been my first revision, and it will probably not be my last. However, each day I learn, do, and strive for more. As I like to say, I have hydrocephalus, it does not have me.”

lauren_fleck_hascholarLauren Fleck

Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship

“Having hydrocephalus has been one of the hardest things I have had to deal with in my life, but it has shaped me into an incredibly strong woman. I have taken my experiences with hydrocephalus and translated them into positive moments and ideas. I hope to continue to let my hydrocephalus experiences shape me into a better person throughout my entire life.”

Lauren is currently pursuing an Executive Master of Public Health degree, with a concentration in Emergency Management at Tel Aviv University in Israel. After completing her program at Tel Aviv, Lauren would like to help improve efficiency in aid response, as well as improve dispersal of medical supplies during the aftermath of a disaster.

Having brain-tumor induced hydrocephalus, Lauren endured five shunt revisions after her initial diagnosis at the age of eight. As a sophomore in high school, Lauren took her required science fair project as an opportunity to research alternative methods to detecting a shunt malfunction. Her project, “Can a Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt Malfunction be Determined Without a  Scan or MRI?” explored the different pressure patterns based on different locations of a protein build-up within a shunt. She suggested that a nano-sensor could detect these unique pressure changes and could even be read and tested with an iPhone app. This project made it all the way to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2009 where she was able to share her ideas with people from all over the world. Lauren states, “This experience has inspired me to always be proactive and innovative about making positive change.”

A talented pianist, she has won many competitions in the state of Georgia. Growing up, the piano was a major part of her life as well as an unexpected passion. She credits hydrocephalus for greatly influencing her passion for piano. Piano was the only activity that she found she could participate in without great discomfort from her condition. “Having hydrocephalus truly taught me that life could be really good even when circumstances were far from ideal. Life gave me piano when I could not play softball, but it also taught me that the love of friends and family mollifies any dark situation.“

Lauren hopes to use her training and education to help those experiencing natural disasters. In Israel, she plans to continue her work bringing about positive change and helping the most vulnerable.

anthony_hale_hascholarAnthony Hale

Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund

“My personal background of having hydrocephalus will allow me to better serve children with hydrocephalus by providing me a perspective most occupational therapists will not have. Since I have gone through occupational therapy myself, I know what it feels like to be a client. I have experienced the frustration and the slew of other emotions that come with trying to work through living with hydrocephalus.”

As a full-time student and part-time musician, Anthony has transformed his battle with brain cancer and hydrocephalus into a motive to continue moving forward. He was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with brain cancer and hydrocephalus. Anthony approached it with every bit of courage he could muster. “Through all the MRIs, brain surgeries, shunt replacements, and blood draws (I used to be terrified of needles), I discovered how mortal and how strong I truly am.” Even with a life-altering experience as this, Anthony received his BA in Human Services from Western Washington University and will attend the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program at the University of Washington this fall. Upon completion of the MOT program, he will sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Examination to become a registered Occupational Therapist and eligible for state licensure.

Anthony is also a part-time musician and hopes to impact many lives through his music. He has performed at various events in Washington, and has worked very hard to bring awareness to the challenges of both cancer and hydrocephalus. For Anthony, music is not a hobby but a life-long career of impacting many people with his message of living a meaningful life and helping those in need. He hopes to release the album he has been recording for the past year, and after graduating he would like to work as an occupational therapist during the week and perform music on weekends. “My long-term goal with music is to impact as many lives as I possibly can with the message that I convey, and to perform across the country and the world.”

Anthony plans to continue his work in raising awareness about hydrocephalus and brain cancer, and looks forward to contributing to the Hydrocephalus Association’s efforts to end hydrocephalus.

elizabeth_heim_hascholarElizabeth Heim

Recipient of the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund

“Some people may view my life with hydrocephalus as sad because it prevents me from doing things that others do with ease. However, I see it as knowing and understanding my limits… and learning to overcome adversity.”

Elizabeth was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at eighteen month of age. After two shunt surgeries, she began to progress, with the assistance of physical, occupational, and speech therapy until she was six years old. She still faces struggles from hydrocephalus every day.

Despite all odds, Elizabeth is attending California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, California, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. She is currently interested in a legal career centered on criminology. After graduation she plans on pursuing a degree in criminal justice from California Lutheran University before applying for Law School to prepare for becoming a criminal lawyer.

“My hope when I become a lawyer is to empower those affected by hydrocephalus to advocate for themselves, and to show those who are around children with hydrocephalus that they are not being lazy, and that many of them are not physically handicapped in the ways that people typically think. My goal is to show people that children with hydrocephalus are like everybody else, and can do day-to-day activities that are no different.”

On weekends Elizabeth volunteers in school-sponsored community events like cleaning the beach and helping renovate a house. She also enjoys watching cooking shows and then trying new recipes on her roommates and friends.

2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship RecipientTess Jacobsen

Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund

“Even though, hydrocephalus has created some barriers for me at times, I have persevered and continue to strive to overcome all the barriers that are thrown my way.”

Tess is a freshman at University of Oregon majoring in Linguistics. She was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at four months after having a stroke before she was born. Since then, she has been very lucky to have only her initial surgery for the placement of her shunt with no revisions. However, she has struggled with its impact on other areas, namely her eyes, weakness on one side of her body and the development of a seizure disorder.

Although hydrocephalus has impacted her health, education and social interactions, she has been able to persevere and find courage and strength to become an advocate for herself and other young people who live with it. Tess serves on the Teens Take Charge (TTC) Advisory Council and is very active in Girl Scouts. For her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, Tess collaborated with HA to create a conference presentation, webinar called, Speak Up: Owning Your Own Condition, and a brochure focused on how to be a self-advocate in the classroom, at after school activities and with medical professionals. The content of her Gold Award project is based upon her personal experience and consultations and interviews with several professionals.

2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship RecipientJessica Rewiski

Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Funds

“I am truly a people person with a lot of compassion, and feel like whatever I end up doing will involve using that gift to improve the lives of others.”

As a full time student while working a full time job, Jessica has broken every barrier that she has confronted. She is currently attending Tallahassee Community College and is interested in Nursing and Occupational Therapy. Her guiding force determining her field of study is derived from her own personal experiences.

Jessica developed hydrocephalus as an infant after being born two months premature and experiencing intraventricular bleeds. She understands the challenges of having a chronic condition and disability, and has used this to develop inner strength and confidence. She hopes to educate others about hydrocephalus, as well as support those with the condition as they face the obstacles of their condition. Through every shunt malfunction, surgery and learning disability, she fights through and comes out stronger than ever. “I feel like I embrace life and am always ready for a challenge. I strive to be the best ‘Me’ that I can be.”

Jessica recently attended her first HA WALK. This was a wonderful experience for her and she felt great knowing she helped raise money to further research and also raise awareness and educate others. “When I left the WALK that day I felt so invigorated!”

2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship RecipientDara Tannariello

Recipient of the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship Fund

“When I tell people I have hydrocephalus, they are often very perplexed. They say, ‘I would have never known’ or ‘You seem like a normal person.’  Well, I AM a normal person!  It is so true that we (people with hydrocephalus) should not be treated differently because of our condition.  Nothing separates us.  We are all people and we should all be accepted for who we are no matter what the case may be.”

Dara is a junior at the University of St. Joseph, where she intends to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work, and then move on to receive a master’s degree in social work (MSW).

Diagnosed with hydrocephalus in utero, Dara had a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placed when she was five weeks old. After six revisions early on in life, she developed epilepsy at the age of five. Having lived through the difficulties and restrictions that her conditions have placed on her, Dara is acutely aware of the impact hydrocephalus and epilepsy have had on her life. However, she has learned how to cope in healthy ways with these challenges and would like to help others identify their struggles and do the same.

A member of the Hydrocephalus Association Teens Take Charge (TTC) Mentor Task Force, Dara is active in promoting awareness about hydrocephalus through campus programs, such as the Women of Wellness program. Frequently, she participates in HA’s events, including but not limited to, the National Conference on Hydrocephalus, the Long Island, New York, and Connecticut HA WALKs, and other TTC activities. Through her participation, Dara increases awareness, builds life long friendships with the community, and shares her journey to inspire others living with the condition.

2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship RecipientFiona Wilcox

Recipient of the Hydrocephalus Association Fund
Special thanks to Lisa and Erik Chamberlain of Rokton, Illinios, for providing support of this scholarship.

“When I consider the impact hydrocephalus has had on my life, I think not of hospitals and headaches, but of what living with this condition has helped me to be… Hydrocephalus has taught me the powers of being confident, of sharing your story, of embracing your own uniqueness–for that, I am grateful.”

Fiona is attending the University of Oregon, where she will major in Psychology. Driven by her experiences with hydrocephalus and related neurological challenges, she has always been fascinated by the mysteries of the human brain, and how the organ that controls the most is the one we know the least about. She envisions herself working with patients with neurological diagnoses, while also continuing to be an advocate for people with disabilities.

Diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus and living with a VP shunt, Fiona feels fortunate to have had only one revision surgery. She didn’t know much about the condition until she attended the 2008 National Conference on Hydrocephalus where she met others who are living with it in a variety of ways. From that point forward Fiona has become a passionate advocate for educating friends, classmates and others about hydrocephalus, raising funds for research through the Portland, Oregon WALK, joining the TTC program and representing HA at public events such as the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Brain Fair. She is currently the Chair of the TTC Advisory council, sharing her wisdom and enthusiasm for all young people who live with the challenges of this condition.

“I am comfortable in not knowing exactly where life will take me. I believe learning is a lifelong process and that wherever you end up is where you are meant to be. I am excited to launch the next chapter of my life and go to college!”

Congratulations to all of our Awardees and Finalists!

You inspire us all!

2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Finalists

Cameron Alderson

Michael Altermatt

Amanda Alvarez

Hernan Andrade

Erika Applebaum

Jayairies Arrington

Allison Aucoin

Christal Bailey

Yvonne Barney

Marissa Bartels

Amanda Bell

Nicholas Booth

Whitney Boyce

Tyler Brackins

Madison Brandt

Laurel Briggs

Na’Mycha Brown

Bryan Chavez

Chelsea Chubb

Caitlyn Clark

Carli Clement

Amanda Cohen

Danielle Collado

Halley Cronce

Aneeka Danielly

Laura Day

Megan DeCoursey

Dora Delarca

Demi Diaz

Meredith Domaleski

Rusty Quyenten Duvall

Emma Eckhardt

Madison Eddings

Sara Ellis

Lauren Eng

Sarah Estes

Apolonia Feliciano

Nicolette Ford

Bella Forrest

McKenzie Fowler


Jeremy Fulton

Lorena Garrod

Channing George

Susan Gould

Stacy Griffin

Rasheed Gross

Mackenzie Harrison

Cody Heckendorf

Samantha Heinrich

Tessa Henry

Shane (Lori) Horton

Katelyn Howells

Matthew Jameson

Morgan Johnson

Solveig Jonsson

Jordan Keller

Julie Kitzes

Christina Knorr

Kayla Koonter

Mary Shannon Lang

Rhett Lanier

Emily Lankford

Molly Lichtenstein

Frederick Liggons Jr.

Max Linder

Kayla Littlefield-Porter

Taylor MacDowell

Eilish Mangnall

McKenzie Marsh

Ciara Mattner

Michael May

Jabari McKie

Kyah Merritt

Alexa Michaud

Brianna Milliken

Bronson Neil

Maureen Norris

Mallory Oates

Leah Ossi

Katie Parks


Emily Pember

Brittany Petrie

Hailey Petty

Alexandra Rios

Josh Rittberg

Sadie Robinson

Areli Salazar Tellez

Nick San Nicolas

Alyssa Sanders

Shelby Schroeder

Keyera Scott

Jennifer Sepate

Jenna Shackelford

Victoria Shew

Sara Shirey

Jacob Smith

Brady Smith

Sierra Smith

Lauren Snowden

Nashelly Soto

Mackenzie Spencer

Kyleigh Stalker

Sawyer Stearns

Maria Tatman

Branyan Towe

Julia Tracy

Colette Umar

Bryann Valdez

Anthony Villasenor

Carly Weisman

Connor White

Haley Williams

Kyle Wilson

Luke Winters

Alexis Witsell

Ellis Womack

Shannon Woods

Stacey Yee

Sydney Yost