The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce the 2018 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 191 scholarships to 191 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. They are an inspiration to us all, demonstrating that hydrocephalus does not stand in the way of pursuing one’s goals.
These eleven 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, the Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory Gerard Swartz Fudge Scholarship, the Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship Fund, and the Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship, which is provided by Erik and Lisa Chamberlain.
Our gratitude is extended to all the funders for their generosity and the Scholarship Committee for all their support and dedication.
Congratulations 2018 Scholarship Recipients!
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarships
Delia has been accepted to the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Dartmouth where she will pursue an undergraduate degree in biology, with a minor in French. She has always had a special interest in science, specifically biology, so it will be the perfect area to combine this interest with her humanitarian passions. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Delia aspires to receive her master’s degree in public health. “My ultimate goal is to help people. As someone who understands what it’s like to live with a physical condition that doesn’t receive much research attention or dollars, and without much real progress toward a definitive cure, I feel compelled to help others who also experience similar dilemmas.”
At six weeks old, Delia was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and underwent her first brain surgery. She had two subsequent revisions when she was twelve months and fourteen months old. Delia is a young woman who does not let the challenges of hydrocephalus defer her from her goals. “I have been raised in an environment where the physical constraints of hydrocephalus were not emphasized and I was encouraged to pursue any interest. This has been possible, in part, because I have been relatively healthy and have endured ‘only’ three brain surgeries to date.”
Delia enjoys dancing, including Mexican Folklorico dance and performance troupe. She has participated in several of HA’s WALKs and volunteers in non-invasive clinical research. At the age of seven she was “Patient-One” in the first multi-site, clinical trial of a noninvasive device called ShuntCheck.
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarships
Ellie has been accepted to the Central Washington University, the University of Montana and Carroll College. Although she has not determined which school she will attend, Ellie plans to obtain a major in psychology, early childhood education, or child life. Ellie’s dream is to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, but she isn’t stopping there. “I will volunteer at hospitals in underprivileged areas of the world and show the staff how helping children understand what is happening to them and teaching them coping skills actually makes treatment easier for medical professionals and children.”
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus as a teenager, Ellie has endured twenty-two brain surgeries. Daily she deals with headaches, nausea, balance issues, or vision problems. Despite this, Ellie continues to live life to the fullest. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading and photography.
“I am a stronger, more reliable and understanding person. I want to do more for others so that they can get through hard times like I have. My medical issues may impact my life, but I am going to make the most out of it.”
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarships
Emily is attending Gadsden State Community College and will transfer to Jacksonville State University where she will obtain a master’s degree in Psychology. “It is very important for me to get my education and be a positive face for future kids.”
Emily was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of six and has undergone several operations as a child due to her condition. Through the obstacles, Emily continues to smile and remains positive. She is a motivated student, excelling in her academics. She is also the captain on her high school’s drumline, a member of the school choir and show choir, and part of the National Society and SGA.
Emily participates in the Birmingham, Alabama WALK to End Hydrocephalus and hopes to start a big brother, big sister program for kids with hydrocephalus.
“I want people to see a rainbow through me and not a thunderstorm.”
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarships
“I want to change the lives of children who have had to endure numerous surgeries like I have, and I want the future generations of children with hydrocephalus to grow up healthy.”
Currently, the right place for Kaitlyn is at the University of Florida where she will begin her freshman year in the fall of 2018 and study to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Kaitlyn enjoys painting, drawing, swimming and volunteers as a swim instructor for the Special Olympics Maryland Swimming.
Kaitlyn was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at six months of age and has endured numerous shunt revisions. Following a surgery in her sophomore year of high school, she enrolled in an independent study class to further learn about anti-siphon valves. This led to writing a research paper on the technology and influenced her decision to pursue medical school and become a doctor. “Studying the intricacies of hydrocephalus, the new devices and techniques being used for treatment made me want to become a doctor.”
Kaitlyn does not let hydrocephalus define her. She expresses, “Each day I now do the things I thought I could not do and live my life through a different lens, a different perspective. Life has given me the intense strength to understand that I am not a victim of my illness, I am a warrior that will conquer all challenges that hydrocephalus causes me to endure.”
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarships
Nicholas is enrolled at San Bernardino Valley College pursuing an Associate and Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, he plans to attend a major design school to follow his dream of becoming an automotive designer. “I have a particular interest in developing function, economical vehicles designed to specifically meet the needs of the disabled community. My own experience as a disabled person, and soon as a disabled driver, will inform and inspire my pursuit of more affordable and accessible vehicle options.”
Diagnosed with prenatal hydrocephalus, Nicholas’s mother underwent fetal surgery to repair his spina bifida. At ten months old, Nicholas had his first shunt placed. Since then he has gone through countless surgeries associated to his hydrocephalus and spina bifida. Nicholas states, “Hydrocephalus has not made things easy. Sometimes it takes me longer to pick up on certain concepts… I have worked hard to overcome these limitations and become the best student I can be. I am confident that I can continue my pursuit of excellence beyond high school and into my professional life.”
Nicholas is a defenseman on the Los Angeles Kings Sled Hockey team, a nationally competitive co-ed adaptive sports team for physically disabled children and adults. He also plays the trombone in the marching and symphonic band and partakes in many after school clubs, including ASL, International Flavor Club and Alive Club lunch Bible Study. In addition, Nicholas advocates for better access and ADA compliance.
“…I will not let my disability define who I am and what I can accomplish.”
Recipient of the Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory of Gerard Swartz Fudge
“I believe in standing up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.”
This fall Kaylie will be attending the University of Texas Austin where she will major in Biology. She hopes to become a part of the University of Texas’ Biology Scholars program, pursuing the pre-medicine track. Kaylie dreams of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon and is passionate about helping others. “My ultimate goal is to be part of Doctors without Borders.”
Kaylie was diagnosed with hydrocephalus as an infant and had her first brain surgery at three months of age. Due to shunt malfunctions or headaches, as a child she frequently missed activities, social events with friends and school. Kaylie states, “I wanted to be able to hang out with friends whenever I wanted, I wanted to stop missing school, and most of all I wanted to be normal.”Despite the challenges Kaylie encounters she continues to fight and wants to empower other people to embrace the uniqueness that having hydrocephalus presents.
“I want to be able to go into a patients’ room and say ‘I know what you’re going through and I will do everything in my power to make it better” and actually be able to do something to make them feel better or at least more comfortable.’”
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarships
In 2012 Lauren was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation. After undergoing two brain surgeries to treat the condition she developed hydrocephalus. Lauren has missed many major milestones in her life from unexpected surgeries. She was unable to attend her high school graduation and because of overwhelming symptoms, including but not limited to, lethargy, double vision, headaches, and memory loss she had to withdraw from college in 2017. Nevertheless, Lauren excels and remains determined to return to school this fall.
Lauren will be a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in majoring in Environmental Science and Technology with a concentration in Ecological Technology Design. Following college, Lauren plans to work at the Environmental Protection Agency where she can promote the conversation of environment on a larger scale. “As an advocate for the environment, I hope to lobby for a more sustainable future and push for environmentally-friendly measures as well as limitations on unsustainable practices that affect our nation.”
This past summer, Lauren interned at HA and joined the National Capital WALK to End Hydrocephalus committee. In addition, she has spoken on panels at educational events and taken part in HA’s national awareness campaign by participating in advertisements and videos. Lauren states, “I hope to continue these efforts in the future and increase awareness through fundraisers and by gathering support for WALKs across the country.” In her spare time, she enjoys singing, dancing, playing the piano, and volunteering in the community.
Recipient of the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship
Maggie is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science at Virginia Commonwealth University and will continue her education by obtaining a PhD in neurology to assist in hydrocephalus research. She says, “I hope to one day research ways to cure hydrocephalus instead of just treating the symptoms…”
At the age of four, Maggie began having issues with balance and experienced persistent headaches. Months later she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and acquired hydrocephalus. Maggie has suffered from multiple complications and surgeries due to shunt failures. She also experiences chronic migraines. Although Maggie lives independently and attends school, hydrocephalus has had a profound impact on her life. The condition and frequent headaches have restricted her ability to participate in sports, travel and caused her family financial constraints. Through it all Maggie remains positive and hopeful that she can make a difference and help make significant progress for hydrocephalus research. “I am passionate about helping those who live with hydrocephalus because it is so applicable to my life. I have personally felt frustrated that shunt systems have high failure rates. These systems have saved my life many times, but I believe that there may be a better treatment option out there.”
Throughout Maggie’s life she has been involved in music in her school, church, or the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir (SCVV). She went on to sing in Carnegie Hall and at the White House. Additionally, Maggie participated in HA’s Boozle Bear “Sew-a-Thon”, has been a guest blogger for HA, and actively attends HA’s Richmond, Virginia Community Network meetings. She also hopes to join the National Capital WALK to End Hydrocephalus committee.
Recipient of the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship
Molly was accepted to Boston College for nursing school. After college her goal is to work in the pediatric oncology unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering. “I want to focus on oncology because I hope that I can be an inspiration to the children and families who are going through such a difficult time… I will be able to provide a supportive bond with them, helping them to maintain hope and help make a difference in their lives, like my nurses have done for me.”
At twelve years old Molly acquired hydrocephalus from a brain tumor. She states, “While having hydrocephalus is not ideal, I consider myself lucky because immediately it helped me identify my life’s passion.” Following her diagnosis Molly became a passionate advocate and volunteer in her community. Weekly, she volunteers at a hospital, mentors at her local autistic organization, and she is involved with the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. In addition, in 2012 she started the New Jersey WALK to End Hydrocephalus and each year she leads a donation drive to collect supplies for the nonprofit camp for children with cancer, Camp Make-A-Dream.
“I hope that I will continue to be a source of inspiration for children with hydrocephalus and their families.”
Recipient of the Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship
Special thanks to Lisa and Erik Chamberlain of Rokton, Illinios, for providing support of this scholarship.
Nicholas is an incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there he will pursue double majors in Biochemistry and Spanish. During undergraduate school, Nicholas will participate in the university’s research opportunities. He is specifically interested in neuroscience and nanotechnology research. Nicholas’s long-term goal is to attend medical school. “My life long goals are based on my desire to improve the quality of life for patients who struggle with neurological disorders.”
Nicholas is an Eagle Scout, member of the Order of Arrow National Honor Society of Boy Scouts, member of the National Beta Club and served as a Junior Marshall. He has participated in athletics such as cross-country, golf, and lacrosse.
Born with aqueductal stenosis and hydrocephalus, Nicholas suffered from a stroke which left him with right-sided weakness. To overcome the stroke, as a child he worked with physical and occupational therapists and wore a leg brace.“My right-sided weakness made sports harder for me compared to most kids. The kids in elementary school did not understand why I was the way I was. I was ashamed of my condition and I hid my leg brace,” says Nicholas. Within five and a half years, Nicholas had more than twenty brain surgeries related to his hydrocephalus. Due to this, he missed months of school and socially was unable to participate in most activities. These difficult times taught Nicholas patience, understanding and the importance of a positive outlook.
“I am more than my disability, disease, or circumstances and will not let my diagnosis define me. I am determined to push my limitations by trying various activities that challenge my physical and mental limits. In doing so, I focus on what I can accomplish instead of focusing on my limitations.”
Recipient of the Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship
Sarah has applied to the Augie Access Program at Augustana University. This unique program is designed to help students with disabilities. The program teaches students life skills, explore career options, learn how to live independently and transition from college into adulthood. After completing the Augie Access Program, Sarah will continue her education to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree. Her dream is to become a teacher, police officer or a federal agent.
Sarah was diagnosed with hydrocephalus prenatally and has endured five brain surgeries. As a child she struggled with balance and learning difficulties, but with hard work and determination she continues to defy the odds. Sarah finished high school with a 4.0 GPA, enjoys riding rollercoasters and horseback riding. “My parents have nicknamed me “No-Fear Nohr” because I am willing to seek out new experiences, even if they are a bit frightening,” Sarah said.
“It has been empowering for me to learn about my condition and to be able to take the lead when I am discussing my condition with my doctors.”
Congratulations to all of our Awardees and Finalists!
You inspire us all!
2018 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Finalists
Samantha De Boer
Maurice Elmore, Jr.
Crystal Hoyt St. Louis
German Sanchez De la paz
Jessie Anne Schoen