The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is pleased to announce the 2020 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 215 scholarships to 215 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 twelve scholarships are funded by the: Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund, one scholarship which is supported by Molly Mastrangelo, 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, Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory Gerard Swartz Fudge Scholarship, Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship, 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 2020 Scholarship Recipients!
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Fund
“My previous challenges serve as a reminder that my setbacks are not to define me as someone weak but instead as someone strong. I can overcome anything.”
Chelsea is enrolled in Rochester Institute of Technology’s 5-year Human-Centered Computing program. She continues to grow in experience in the digital design field, thrives in technology application, and is seeking knowledge and experience to become a User Experience and User Interaction Designer.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus as a child, Chelsea was faced with many obstacles. “I missed the mark of each childhood milestone because of the gamut of conditions related to hydrocephalus.” She struggled with mobility, speech, and the ability to focus. Chelsea also experiences seizures, migraines, and anxiety. “With time and experience, I have learned to be resilient despite my stereotypical restraints; I am constantly pushing myself past these barriers.”
Chelsea would like to help others with hydrocephalus by creating websites that would offer daily advice on how to network as a teen, provide various email templates for individuals looking for a job, and have a cross-section of learning techniques. Her ultimate goal is to create an organization in the school system that assists people who are not as tech-savvy.
Chelsea has volunteered over the years for countless groups and organizations, including, but not limited to, the Technology Student Association, Girls Who Code, and a food shelter at her local church. She devotes special attention to students with learning disabilities. She’s an inspiration to all who meet her. We are confident that she will continue to succeed in her studies and turn her goals into reality.
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund
“My hydrocephalus has been an inspiration to carry on the care that has been given to me and share the courage that it has caused me to gain.”
Anne is attending Boston College Connell School of Nursing. She decided she wanted to pursue a nursing degree after a recent shunt revision. “The comfort and reassurance the nurses gave during a time of fear and uncertainty was incredibly inspiring to me now that I can look back at that experience.” Diagnosed with hydrocephalus in infancy, she was treated with a shunt. Anne has endured fiveshunt revisions. “I learned to not let obstacles, like staple pain, dead nerves, fear, or rude peers stand in my way. I now aim to turn my perspective on hydrocephalus into one of comedy, perseverance, education, and vocational drive.”
Anne is involved in many activities including choir, cross country, Campus Ministry, and National Honor Society. She also loves to knit, collect stamps, listen to music, and crochets baby hats for preemies in the NICU.
Recipient of the Baldus Family Scholarship in Memory of Gerard Swartz Fudge
“I want to show others like me, who grew up with hydrocephalus in the foster care system since birth, that it is possible to have a successful and happy life.”
Theresa is a student at San Francisco State University where she is majoring in School-Age Concentration in Child Development. Prior to attending San Francisco State University, she studied in Pistoia, Italy, and worked in a private school for students with disabilities. “I love working with students with Autism and other disabilities.”
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus as an infant, Theresa often received at-home services such as occupational and physical therapy. At a young age, she faced challenges that pushed her further than she ever thought imaginable. “Being bullied for having no hair from the surgeries, being labeled as retarded, and having cruel photos photoshopped of me drooling in a wheelchair.” Despite that, Theresa was persistent, resilient, and never gave up. “It’s necessary for me to consistently speak up, voice my needs, spread awareness, and stand up for both myself and others with disabilities.”
Theresa’s hobbies include learning Italian, reading, tutoring, seeing friends, and going to the gym.
McGwire (Mac) Gray
Recipient of the Justin Scot Alston Memorial Scholarship Fund
“I would help others with hydrocephalus by showing them their story isn't over until they close the book.”
Mac plans to graduate from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration. He aspires to work for a college football team in recruiting or equipment.
Mac was diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus as a child and he underwent surgery to insert a shunt. “Hydrocephalus has shown me that whatever you want, you can get it. It all depends on your attitude, effort, and drive.” His sophomore year he was put on a 504 plan, which allowed him to receive accommodations to give him the best chance to be successful in high school. “This has become such a vital source... I plan to carry my accommodations on to LSU.”
In his free time, Mac loves spending time with his family and friends, traveling, camping, hiking, and works part-time as a server at Walker Methodist Nursing Home. In 2019, he set up his own walk to raise funds for the Hydrocephalus Association and raised over $700.
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund
“My experience with hydrocephalus could have only had two effects on my life: to hold me back or to free me into a passion set ablaze by hardship. I chose to allow it to fuel my passion for patient care and the medical world.”
Mary-Kaylin is a sophomore at Baylor University and is majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Spanish. After graduating she plans to go on to attend medical school to specialize in either pediatric neurosurgery or pediatric neurology. “There is no doubt that my experiences have led me to my passion and career path – neuroscience and serving kids who have been affected by a neurological condition.”
Mary-Kaylin was diagnosed with hydrocephalus as a child and has undergone ten brain surgeries due to the condition. She has had to overcome many obstacles throughout her life, such as processing speed difficulties and memory problems which affect the way that she learns. “My family and I didn’t know the trauma of multiple brain surgeries; the fear of shunt failure and the interrupting nature of hydrocephalus would affect my mental health as it did.” Like many in the hydrocephalus community, Mary-Kaylin is being treated for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. She sought out help and we know by sharing her experience it will remind others that they are not alone on this journey.
Mary-Kaylin rides horses, loves to sing, and plays the piano. She has helped at Baptist Health Medical Center on the neuro-floor and assisted nurses in patient care. Mary-Kaylin was on the Youth Advisory Council at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was employed as a Patient Care Technician at Children’s on the Hematology and Oncology floor. “I want to be the person that kids with hydrocephalus can look up to and talk to when their feeling scared.”
Recipient of the Kate Finlayson Memorial Scholarship
“Although hydrocephalus has changed me in many ways, nevertheless it has made me a better person because I've had to overcome obstacles that I never thought I would. Learning to persevere during this difficult time has made me stronger in every aspect of my life.”
Stephanie is a junior at Marist College where she will receive a dual major in Mathematics and Education with a minor in Psychology. She has a 4.0 GPA and is part of the National Honors Society, Math Honors Society, and the Education Honors Society. Stephanie serves as vice president of both the Psychology and Math Club. Stephanie is in charge of organizing meetings, planning events, and monitoring the effectiveness of their activities. “As a future educator, I value these qualities of leadership and collaboration, and I will use them for the rest of my life.”
After graduating, Stephanie plans to go on to get her Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Mathematics at Stony Brook University. In the future, she would like to get her Ph.D. in educational leadership. This will allow her to advance her career from being a teacher to a principal or superintendent. “Having a position like this would allow me to make even more of a change in schools and further impact the lives of students.”
Prior to being diagnosed with hydrocephalus, for nearly two years Stephanie was having issues with her vision. “I would see these black spots that were indescribable.” At the age of eighteen, she found out she had hydrocephalus. Stephanie learned she needed to undergo brain surgery to perform an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) during the second semester of her freshman year of college. “Being a math major, I was in Calculus III and Linear Algebra at the time. I had to miss a lot of school, but thankfully, my teachers were accommodating.” During her time at home, Stephanie had a surplus amount of motivation. In spite of the hardships she has had to overcome, she was determined to still excel. Excel is exactly what Stephanie did. She ended up receiving a 4.0 GPA. “It made me realize that I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to, even when life takes an unexpected turn.”
Stephanie was a baton twirler from the age of three to the age of seventeen. She competed in Holland, Canada, Croatia, and traveled all over the USA. Once Stephanie started college she became part of the Marist College Dance Ensemble. Stephanie participates in the Long Island, NY WALK to End Hydrocephalus, and when given the option to talk about health-related topics, she presents on hydrocephalus to educate her classmates. “Overall, I try to implement awareness for hydrocephalus with any opportunity that I get because of how much it has changed my life.”
Recipient of the Mario J. Tocco Hydrocephalus Foundation Scholarship Fund
“My parents never let me be a “patient” or a “victim.” My parents wanted to raise me as a "normal child." It was never about hiding that I had hydrocephalus, but about ensuring teachers did not put a label on me or treat me differently. They wanted my teachers to challenge me, and for me to always challenge myself.”
Mikayla is a sophomore at Michigan State University where she is pursuing applied mathematics through an Applied Engineering Sciences (AES) degree, which places emphasis on her deep interest in problem-solving as well as collaboration. She will be achieving a concentration within this major, studying Supply Chain Management as a route to pursue greater depth on problem analysis. Alongside the College of Engineering at Michigan State, Mikayla has been admitted to the nation’s oldest Honors College. “The Honors College gives me access to a wider and more advanced spectrum of courses and I am exploring neurobiology, psychology, and computational mathematics.”
Mikayla has joined an array of both academic and recreational extracurriculars, where she hopes to earn leadership roles and take on added responsibilities. This includes, but is not limited to, participating in Engineering leadership advantage, Society of Applied Engineering Sciences, Society of Women Engineers, Women in Engineering Leadership Series Program, Connect Program, CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls), College of Engineering Spring Break Corporate Tour, and the Outdoors Club. She is also part of the campus band, and took on a professorial assistantship, all awhile maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 5 weeks old. Her condition escalated quickly from sun downing eyes to vomiting. “In the pre-op consult, the surgeon advised my parents to be prepared for residual impacts. He was concerned about my optic nerves and cognitive deficit… It was a terrifying emotional rollercoaster for my parents that I know they will never forget.” Mikayla underwent brain surgery to insert a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. Her first shunt failed after four months and after her second shunt failure, Mikayla underwent an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV).
Mikayla loves to paint, create music, but the hobby she is most known for is her love for baking. She is the captain of her team, called the “M-Credibles,” for the Detroit, MI WALK to End Hydrocephalus. “My family and friends have built a community solely around the walks each year. What started as just an immediate family grew branches into our extended relatives. We recruited family friends next, followed by neighbors, and even added in colleagues and coworkers. The walks have given me a talking point, an expansive activity for new friends, and an event to center our community back in on each year. We celebrate not only my triumph over hydrocephalus, but everything the walk means to those who still fight and I think my greatest accomplishment has been the awareness I spread.”
Gabriel (Gabe) Puthoff
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Fund
Gabe is a freshman at the University of Dayton where he is majoring in Secondary Education. After gaining experience in teaching, he hopes to go on to get his master’s degree. Ideally, Gabe would like his first teaching job to be at a Catholic High School as a history or religion teacher. In addition to teaching, he plans to pursue a career in coaching basketball. After coaching at a high school level, Gabe aspires to coach college basketball. “Sports are a very big part of my life mainly due to some of the amazing coaches that I have had, so I want to have the same impact on other children. Sports can provide so many life lessons about overcoming adversity, grit, determination, and setting goals and reaching those goals both physically and mentally.”
Gabe was born with spina bifida and diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus in infancy. He had a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placed when he was four weeks old. When Gabe was ten months old his shunt malfunctioned. He has had to undergo four brain surgeries due to hydrocephalus. As a child, Gabe had to miss school due to numerous doctor appointments, he had to undergo physical therapy and wore leg braces. “I have paralysis in my feet, legs, and hips, which requires me to wear leg braces to help me walk. I also have other challenges that aren’t quite as visible. Falling has always been a problem for me.”
Gabe does not let his conditions stop him. Gabe has played sports his entire life, including, but not limited to, volleyball, baseball, and golf. However, his favorite sport which he started playing four years ago is wheelchair basketball. “Playing wheelchair basketball has taught me that I don’t have it so bad—unlike many of my teammates I can get up out of my chair after practice. Even though I may run differently, I can still run and for that I’m grateful.” He also likes to fish, hang out with his friends, and play video games.
Each year, Gabe and his family run a charity golf event to raise money for children with disabilities. The proceeds go to an organization that helps children with physical disabilities participate in adaptive sports and recreational activities in Cleveland, a wheelchair basketball team in Cincinnati, and the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields in Cincinnati where children with developmental disabilities can participate in baseball on rubberized fields. “The golf outing is like a second Christmas for our family because all of our friends and family members come and support our efforts. I hope to continue to grow the charity with my siblings.”
Recipient of the Morris L. and Rebecca Ziskind Memorial Scholarship Fund
“While there is great support for individuals living with Hydrocephalus here in the United States, unfortunately, other nations are not as lucky. One of my goals as a journalist is to take some time to travel the world and document how individuals with hydrocephalus and other related conditions strive around the globe.”
Tomas is a sophomore at State University of New York at Oswego, where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting and Mass Communication with a minor in Spanish. His ultimate career goal is to travel the world to share and show other people’s stories. “Everyone has a story worth telling.” Tomas is certainly on the right path to reaching his goal. In his freshman year, he joined Oswego’s student-run television station, WTOP-10, as a multimedia journalist and reporter. Following, Tomas expanded his role to anchor his stories live while also taking on the station’s audience engagement duties. Additionally, he joined the University’s independent student-run newspaper, The Oswegonian, where he is currently an opinion writer, music critic, and columnist. Recently, Tomas began serving as a foreign correspondent for WTOP-10 in Europe.
Tomas acquired hydrocephalus due to a brain bleed and had his first shunt placed when he was four months old. He has endured six surgeries due to shunt complications. “I learned to advocate for myself and fight for my hopes and dreams early on.”
In addition to his current responsibilities at his University, Tomas has a part-time job as a bilingual contributor for SwimSwam and he is a competitive Paralympic swimmer on the United States National Emerging Paralympic Swim Team. Tomas swam in the Madrid Federation and the Spanish National Federation, which he currently holds 19 national champion titles. He has one National Record in Spain and was a national bronze medalist in the second Spanish Open Waters Cup for able-bodied swimmers. Additionally, in 2018 Tomas became the United States National Champion in para-swimming in the S9 class, for athletes with missing limbs or cerebral palsy. “My experience at the elite level of Paralympic swimming and all the challenges that I have faced along the way have taught me to not let hydrocephalus or anything get in my way in or out of the water.” Also, Tomas swims for the Oswego State Swimming team in Upstate New York.
Tomas attended the 2012 National Conference on Hydrocephalus, HA CONNECT, in Bethesda, MD. “I made many connections nationwide, although at the time I lived overseas. Those connections still remain as strong to this day.” In 2018, he spoke at HA CONNECT on a panel of teenagers and young adults living with hydrocephalus. He also led the Making Connection breakout session for ages 19 through 24. Finally, since 2017 Tomas’s team has participated in and fundraised for the South Florida WALK to End Hydrocephalus.
Recipient of the Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship
Special thanks to Lisa and Erik Chamberlain of Rokton, Illinios, for providing support of this scholarship.
“The presence of hydrocephalus in my life has surely brought its challenges, but also opportunities. It has allowed me to meet new people, go outside my comfort zone, and overall, given me something to be proud of. I feel so grateful that I have been able to take this condition that was presented to me and turn it into ways of advocating, educating, and raising money, all for a good cause.”
Chase is a student at Clatsop Community College where he is pursuing a transfer degree. Following, he plans to attend Western Oregon University where he will major in Information Systems and minor in Entrepreneurship. He wants to have a career with a technology services company where he can repair computers or install software. His ultimate goal in life is to start his own technology business.
Diagnosed with hydrocephalus in-utero, Chase has had to undergo five surgeries due to shunt complications, with the first four occurring before he was one year’s old. Like many in the hydrocephalus community, he also was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, struggled with understanding social cues, and needed an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from fourth grade through high school. “With hard work, understanding how my brain learns, and medical intervention, I have surpassed my goals and I am no longer on an IEP.”
Chase has been involved with the Portland WALK to End Hydrocephalus since it started in 2009. In addition to fundraising and participating on WALK day, Chase and his family provide carnival games. “They have earned me countless new friends, invaluable leadership and advocacy skills, and showed me what it feels like to support a good cause.” In 2014 and 2016, Chase attended the National Conference on Hydrocephalus, HA CONNECT. Continuing his advocacy efforts, Chase has also represented HA with a booth at the Oregon Health and Science University Brain Fair, and he educates the community about hydrocephalus by distributing resources.
Chase’s interests and hobbies include raising market livestock for 4-H, photography, and website designing. He has been a member of the Nehalem Valley Livestock 4-H club for nine years, raising sheep, turkeys, pigs, and occasional exhibit hall entries.
Recipient of the Anthony Abbene Scholarship Fund
“One large reason that I am so interested in Politics is due to pre-existing conditions and adequate access to health care. I believe that even if you have a pre-existing condition… you should be able to have affordable health care. No one should have to live in fear of going to the hospital just because of the medical bill that they will receive.”
Alexander is a freshman at Binghamton University where he is majoring in Political Science. While at Binghamton he plans to join their bowling team, which travels nationally. After graduation, Alexander would like to become a campaign manager or be a staff member for a politician. “And you never know maybe one day I could take a crack at running for public office.” Whichever career Alexander decides to pursue, he knows that he will continue to be a strong and powerful voice for hydrocephalus awareness. “I personally know too many people with hydrocephalus that can't advocate for themselves, so I am glad that I have the ability to be their voice so that they can be heard.”
Diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus as a child, the condition has had a significant impact on his life. In the fourth grade, Alexander underwent three brain surgeries in less than one month. He had to spend eleven days in the ICU due to a shunt infection. “This experience could have held me back for the rest of my life and I would not let it.”
Alexander continued to push forward and he actively participated in Cub Scouts. Then as he got older he went on to earn Eagle Scout at the age of thirteen. “Most scouts get it at 17 because the process is so long and daunting. But at a young age, I made myself a goal and I stuck to it.” At a very young age, Alexander began to participate in bowling. His doctors recommended that he bowl with his left hand, due to his shunt tubing being on his right side. Although he is not naturally left-handed he succeeded. In high school, he went on to become a state champion bowler.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Alexander and his family held a candle fundraiser with all proceeds being donated to HA. Alexander then went on to hold lemonade stands for over ten years. “My fundraising and bringing awareness about hydrocephalus started at the age of 4. I knew that I wanted to give back to the association who helped my parents and family understand my condition and help to educate us.”
Recipient of the Gerard Swartz Fudge Memorial Scholarship Fund: Supported by Molly Mastrangelo
Congratulations to all of our Awardees and Finalists!
You inspire us all!
2020 Hydrocephalus Association Scholarship Finalists
|Ejiro Agbatutu||Jakob Gorton||Brian Mollenhoff|
|Thomas Aldredge||Jayla Green||Sierra Nelson|
|Echo Anderson||Drennon Gregory||Beth Nokes|
|Jenna Avila||Emma Harris||Andrea Oldham|
|Nelle Bargeron||Madison Hazelgrove||Elissa Paige|
|Terri Bracey||Savannah Hazelwood||Rahm Pandey|
|Megan Bremerman||Noah Heiss||Shahil Patel|
|Jakob Bueno||Trinity Hogue||Stuart Philp|
|Camden Burdsall||Madeline Hommel||Elizabeth Philpot|
|Ethan Burkhart||Kaja Horton||Eden Pyle|
|Keeleigh Carpenter||Adalinne Hurst||Kayla Ramos|
|Yvette Carson||Chloe Ijoma||Siobhan Reardon|
|Jonah Casablanca||River Iverson||Zachary Reed|
|Shannon Casey||Demetria Jackson||Evan Rich|
|Jose Chavez||Essence Jeffreys||William Riser|
|Sequoia Cheek||Skylar Jermolowicz||Princess Robinson|
|Amanda Combs||Tiffany Johnson||Britney Saint Joy|
|Sammie Conejo||Emily Klatt||Eliana Schiley|
|Jayda Copeland||Katy Koller||Olivia Schoppen|
|Kyle Cottone||Jenny Koverman||Kara Schulte|
|Megan Cullen||Myrissa LaClair||Lucas Self|
|Kylie Cutcher||Gabrielle Lakkis||Niyati Shinglot|
|Douglas Davison||Elina Lakova||Stephen Skinner|
|Samantha De Boer||Megan Lattinville||Karen Sosa|
|Christopher Dorton||Jace Laughlin||Elaina Spence|
|Abbey DuPan||Michael Lee||Abigial Testa|
|Autry Fasnacht||Jessica Mamie||Allysa Thomas|
|Melati Fauziana||Marisia Matsko||Mauryce Thomas|
|Kira Finan||Katie Mayberry||Thomas Thompson|
|Brendan Finison||Makayla McAlister||Abigail Thomson|
|Andrew Fitzgerald||Marlon McBride||Cassandra Troy|
|Mayco Fleming||Grace McCombs||Emma Turk|
|Molly Gaffey||Ryan McInerney||Luke Voldahl|
|Jasmyn Gayles||Daniel McMahon||Cailey Watts|
|Abbey Gertken||Bangelle Mcphatter||Mary White|
|Teagan Gobiel||Waylon Metts||Gregory Wikoff|
|Anahys Gonzalez||Mariah Mixson||Steven Wofford|