The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce the 2016 Hydrocephalus Association Teens Take Charge Scholarship Award recipients.
The Hydrocephalus Association’s program, Teens Take Charge (TTC), trains teenagers and young adults who are affected by hydrocephalus to advocate for themselves specifically with health professionals and with their legislators. TTC provides support, resources, and training, as well as awareness and fundraising opportunities for teens and young adults to effectively communicate their stories. It’s a great way for youth to connect with others who share similar experiences.
We applaud these young adults for their academic achievements, extracurricular activities and determination. They are an inspiration to everyone at the Hydrocephalus Association and to our entire community!
We are very grateful to all of the individuals who have held events and contributed to TTC. We would also like to thank the Scholarship Committee for their support and dedication.
Congratulations 2016 Scholarship Recipients!
“There is way more to me besides the fact that I suffer from hydrocephalus.”
Genna is pursuing an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Raritan Valley Community College. She loves little children and has a keen interest in special education. Her ultimate career goal is to be a one-to-one teacher’s assistant for a child with special needs.
Shortly after birth Genna was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder which causes tumors to grow in various places in the body. At age six she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus along with a low grade multi-focal glioma, a type of brain tumor, which caused the hydrocephalus. She had a VP shunt placed and soon thereafter began chemotherapy treatment for the tumor. She has undergone numerous treatments for her neurofibromatosis tumors and has struggled with vision problems.
Genna enjoys cooking, painting and drawing, especially animals and flowers. Despite her health challenges, she is a positive, outgoing person. With other members of her family, she volunteers at a local soup kitchen on a regular basis as well as helps with a Coffeehouse for a Cure event for neurofibromatosis every year.
“My tumors and [hydrocephalus] have caused a lot of hardships in my life, such as needing extra time with schoolwork and having to sit at the front of every class. [However], I have been blessed to have some of the most amazing and compassionate people willing to accommodate my every need – best teachers ever… and amazing doctors and nurses as well.”
“I am chronically ill, but chronic illness does not define my worth or the knowledge which I have to offer the world.”
Taylor is a freshman at Springfield College, studying to be a Physician’s Assistant. After volunteering at a local hospital each summer for several years, as well as being a patient of healthcare services for most of her life, Taylor has known for a long time that she was interested in the healthcare field. She is ready to be the provider of excellent care after being on the receiving end for most of her life. She is pursuing a career as a neurosurgical physician’s assistant.
Diagnosed as an infant as the result of an intraventricular hemorrhage during her premature birth, Taylor has had five surgeries related to her hydrocephalus and Chiari I Malformation, including the placement of a VP shunt and ETV surgery. She lives with chronic pain, although she works hard to manage it and not let it take over her life.
As part of the Connecticut Hydrocephalus Association Community Network and the TTC program, she has found support and community when she needed it. Now, through her education and training, she hopes to be a source of support, encouragement and compassion to others who struggle with chronic health issues. She states that, “because of my conditions, I will become an active member of another patient’s health care team. Having seen the medical world through the eyes of a patient, I am ready to give back and provide others with a fighting chance at life.”
“If there is something you absolutely cannot do because of hydrocephalus, then pick yourself up and find something you can do to make you happy. Living with hydrocephalus is not something anyone wants to do, but giving up shouldn’t be either.”
Kashawn is an athletic, hardworking freshman in college studying occupational therapy. He aspires to complete a Masters’ program and work with individuals who have a traumatic brain injury. He is a hurdler, a member of a group that educates elementary school students about the effects of drugs and alcohol, and volunteers with several non-profit organizations which help individuals with health conditions.
Kashawn was diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus in eighth grade after a year of debilitating headaches. Upon diagnosis, he had surgery for the placement of a VP shunt and within the next three months he had 5 more brain surgeries. Despite these long hospital stays and complications, he was still able to complete the eighth grade, even taking tests while in the pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Kashawn knows the effect that a positive and hopeful attitude can have on a challenging situation and has learned that when, “people are faced with difficulties in their lives, they sometimes become even stronger through those struggles.”
“I believe that people learn to better themselves when they are faced with difficult tasks.”
“We can hear from doctors and professionals all we want, but nothing beats hearing from others who have gone through the same thing.”
Hannah Thornsberry is a freshman at the University of Kentucky, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. Her goal upon completion of her studies is to pursue her dream job of working at the Give Kids the World Village, a Make A Wish Resort at Walt Disney World in Florida. She wants to be part of a team that helps to make a child and family’s Wish vacation a meaningful and memorable experience.
Hannah grew up enjoying sports, singing and theater in her Kentucky community. In the sixth grade, while playing golf, she began to experience symptoms which ultimately lead to her diagnosis with a tectal glioma brain tumor and acquired hydrocephalus. After Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) surgery failed within a few weeks of diagnosis, she had a VP shunt placed. She also received radiation treatment to shrink the tumor. She has had at least five additional brain surgeries.
Hannah is a determined young woman who has not let the challenges of her hydrocephalus and tumor deter her from her goals of completing high school and pursuing her dream to help others while integrating her skills in performance and her love for serving others.
“I couldn’t walk or talk or do almost anything after 3 shunt failures and 5 brain surgeries in a 6 week span, but now I am doing well and living life. If hearing my struggles can help just one person in their recovery, than I want to be able to reach that person and let them know they can do it too.”
“Sharing information and experiences is a valuable way to help others cope with the various issues associated with hydrocephalus. It is so important that people realize they are not alone in their struggle, but that there are others who care and can offer advice and assistance.”
Michael is a freshman at the University of California Berkeley, studying Computer Science. He aspires to become a software engineer and to someday work at Google. The youngest of five brothers of a single mother, diagnosed with hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis and CVID (common variable immunodeficiency) as a teenager, Michael has not let adversity get the best of him. Despite a difficult journey to diagnosis and treatment with multiple opinions, tests and setbacks, Michael has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and excelled academically in high school.
Michael had ETV surgery at 17 years old, which was soon followed by complications. Despite setbacks, he is still determined to pursue his dream of becoming a software engineer. He plans to join the HA Teens Take Charge program where hopes to share his experience and help other teens by offering support and encouragement.
For his Eagle Scout project Michael built a shade area at a children’s summer camp. The project entailed fundraising, planting 15 trees and providing an irrigation system for the trees. In addition to Scouts he is also active in volunteering at his church as a youth leader and mentor, with a local homeless shelter and with the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) as a teen council member and mentor for teens with immune deficiencies.
“I have had to learn to cope with my medical issues and learn to overcome their challenges. This has strengthened my tenacious spirit.”
Congratulations to all of our Awardees and Finalists!
You inspire us all!
2016 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Finalists
Rusty Quyenten Duvall
Shane (Lori) Horton
Mary Shannon Lang
Frederick Liggons Jr.
Areli Salazar Tellez
Nick San Nicolas